WINNIPEG — The legal battle over allegations of fraud and conspiracy in the construction of the downtown Winnipeg police headquarters is moving forward, despite an appeal that Manitoba’s Chief Justice said would have slowed things down.
On Friday, Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench Chief Justice Glenn Joyal dismissed an appeal to stop the City of Winnipeg from accessing files seized by the RCMP during the criminal investigation into the police headquarters project.
RCMP seized 46 boxes of physical documents, as well as approximately six terabytes of data and 350,000 emails, in December 2014.
In August, Joyal granted the City of Winnipeg immediate access to the seized documents, saying it would be unfair for the City of Winnipeg to proceed without the documents in its legal battle against more than two dozen defendants – including Caspian Construction and the city’s former CAO Phil Sheegl – over alleged fraud and conspiracy.
The allegations have not been proven in court.
Joyal said Caspian Construction told him they would suffer irreparable harm if the documents, which they say contain privileged and confidential information, were released.
“I am not so persuaded,” Joyal said in an oral decision delivered via a teleconference on Friday.
“Despite having copies of what they had previously said were the same documents as the RCMP, and despite having many months to confront this issue, the Caspian defendants have provided nothing, nothing but vague illusions to confidentiality and privilege.”
Joyal said the Caspian defendants would face little harm if the appeal is dismissed, but the city would face delays to the legal process, if the appeal were to continue.
“All of that to say that should a stay were granted, the city will be required to hold off on its forensic investigation into the RCMP documents pending the outcome of the appeal, which may take many months to complete,” he said.
Joyal said he expects the trial to be scheduled sometime in the next two years.
-with files from CTV’s Josh Crabb and Jon Hendricks
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