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Surrey Six Mountie’s misconduct involved boozy affair with a potential witness




A primary RCMP officer assigned to the deadliest gangland shooting in B.C. history had a months-long, alcohol-fuelled sexual affair with a key potential witness in the case, spanning several provinces in hotel rooms paid for by the force.

Then-Sgt. Derek Brassington described it himself when he apologized during a sentencing hearing that revealed details of the relationship earlier this month.

« I treated her like a girlfriend, » the ex-officer said through sobs in B.C. Supreme Court.

Brassington admitted spending several dozen nights with her in hotel rooms paid for by the RCMP, getting drunk and having sex during the affair in 2009. Then 39, the ex-sergeant took the witness to bars and strip clubs during nights together.

He lied to hide their relationship from most colleagues, but told the court others were well aware after a while — and at least once, actively participated in the debauchery.

Brassington is one of three officers sentenced for their misconduct in the investigation this month. Two others admitted they knew about his affair and failed to report it during their own hearings on Wednesday.

The officers — Brassington, former Staff Sgt. David Attew and suspended Cpl. Danny Michaud — were charged with misconduct in 2011. They all pleaded guilty in separate hearings this month.

A body is loaded into a van following a multiple homicide in Surrey, B.C., on Oct. 21, 2007. Five people have been convicted in connection with the Surrey Six murders. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

The details of the behaviour were a mystery for the better part of a decade, but details were revealed during their hearings. Those proceedings were initially protected by a publication ban, but portions of that ban were rescinded Wednesday afternoon after a challenge from CBC News and Global News.

The Surrey Six investigation continued and resulted in five murder convictions despite the officers’ conduct, but court heard the individual officers’ credibility as investigators was tarnished, and hours of police work needed to be redone.

During the hearings, the men also touched on what they were thinking at the time. Two said they weren’t thinking clearly at all, crippled by the punishing stress and trauma of their jobs as principal investigators on high-profile cases to a point beyond reason.

In short, as Brassington would tell the court through tears: « I sold my soul for this. »

Colossal investigation of 6 killings

Brassington, Attew and Michaud worked with the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) — a speciality homicide unit made up of officers from the RCMP and municipal police.

They were working on the Surrey Six file, a colossal investigation launched after six men were shot to death at a Surrey highrise on Oct. 19, 2007.

Attew and Brassington were principal investigators assigned to witness management, with Attew as Brassington’s superior. Michaud worked in exhibits. 

Brassington pleaded guilty to breach of trust and compromising the integrity and safety of a witness involved in the mass-murder investigation on Jan. 18.

He did so, in short, by dating her for about six months.

Brassington speaks to journalists on Dec. 11, 2013. (CBC)

« I treated her like a girlfriend, » Brassington told the court through sobs after his sentencing. « I didn’t mean to fall in love with her. »

Brassington met the witness on June 6, 2009. She agreed to co-operate as a witness the next month.

Brassington, a brawny man described by colleagues as an « all-star » investigator, wrote a report explaining how crucial the witness would be to the investigation and was assigned to manage her in the witness protection program.

In order to keep the witnesses on board and keep them out of gang life, the Crown explained, it was necessary for RCMP officers to stay in touch as the civilians established themselves in their new, secret homes — which sometimes meant flying to visit them in pairs.

At first, Brassington would sneak the witness back to his hotel room after his partner went to bed during those trips. They’d spend the night together before he snuck back to his own room by morning, undetected.

Then they got bold, and the public outings to bars and strip clubs began. 

Brassington also admitted to sexual activity with a third witness on one occasion.

Officer’s relationship with suspect’s girlfriend

Brassington and Attew were also assigned to manage another witness, identified in court documents as Person X.

Person X had confessed to his girlfriend that he was involved in the Surrey Six shootings. She encouraged him to turn himself in to police, and they both were recruited to the witness protection program.

It was Attew’s job to ensure their continued co-operation, mainly by securing the girlfriend’s trust. 

RCMP officers search property on Oct. 24, 2007 surrounding the apartment building where six people were killed. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

In April 2009, Brassington and Attew visited Person X’s girlfriend at her new home. They got drunk at a bar and stayed until closing.

Later, Attew went to the girlfriend’s hotel room alone. They ended up kissing, with Attew touching her over her clothes, but she rejected him when he tried to go further.

Court heard Person X nearly turned on police after he found out what Attew had done, risking his role as another key witness. He would ultimately continue to co-operate with the investigation.

Once, Brassington and Attew took Brassington’s clandestine girlfriend to the bar where Person X’s girlfriend worked. They spent $800 on alcohol that night, with Brassington’s witness sitting on his lap in front of his superior officer.

Attew, whose marriage ended largely over the scandal, pleaded guilty to failing to maintain law and order in B.C., contrary to the RCMP Act, on Tuesday. He was sentenced to six months house arrest with conditions.

RCMP under enormous scrutiny

Another revelation from the sentencing hearings was that both Brassington and Attew were working on the Dziekanski investigation as well as the massive Surrey Six case.

Robert Dziekanski, a Polish immigrant to Canada, died after he was Tasered by RCMP officers at Vancouver International Airport on Oct. 14, 2007 — five days before the Surrey murders.

The Dziekanski investigation brought the force under enormous scrutiny, and Brassington told the court he saw the murder case as a chance at redemption.

« Instead of restoring public trust and faith in the RCMP, I killed it, » he told the court through sobs during an apology.

« I am sorry to everybody in this country that looks to the police to do what’s right. »

​Brassington’s affair only ended for good when someone told RCMP what was happening in the winter of 2009. He and his wife would later divorce, and he left the family home he shared with their children. 

« As a dad I shouldn’t have done this. As a father I shouldn’t have done this. As a cop I shouldn’t have done this, » Brassington told the court.

The force asked the Ontario Provincial Police to investigate in February 2010. Michaud, the third officer ultimately charged, pleaded guilty to lying when he was asked if he knew about the affair.

He was sentenced to three months house arrest on the same offence as Attew on Tuesday. 

Brassington was sentenced to two years less a day house arrest under conditions. 

Five people have been convicted in connection with the Surrey Six murders.


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‘Business as usual’ for Dorel Industries after terminating go-private deal




MONTREAL — Dorel Industries Inc. says it will continue to pursue its business strategy going forward after terminating an agreement to go private after discussions with shareholders.

« Moving ahead. Business as usual, » a spokesman for the company said in an email on Monday.

A group led by Cerberus Capital Management had previously agreed to buy outstanding shares of Dorel for $16 apiece, except for shares owned by the family that controls the company’s multiple-voting shares.

But Dorel chief executive Martin Schwartz said the Montreal-based maker of car seats, strollers, bicycles and home furniture pulled the plug on a deal on the eve of Tuesday’s special meeting after reviewing votes from shareholders.

“Independent shareholders have clearly expressed their confidence in Dorel’s future and the greater potential for Dorel as a public entity, » he said in a news release.

Dorel’s board of directors, with Martin Schwartz, Alan Schwartz, Jeffrey Schwartz and Jeff Segel recused, unanimously approved the deal’s termination upon the recommendation of a special committee.

The transaction required approval by two-thirds of the votes cast, and more than 50 per cent of the votes cast by non-family shareholders.

Schwartz said enhancing shareholder value remains a top priority while it stays focused on growing its brands, which include Schwinn and Mongoose bikes, Safety 1st-brand car seats and DHP Furniture.

Dorel said the move to end the go-private deal was mutual, despite the funds’ increased purchase price offer earlier this year.

It said there is no break fee applicable in this case.

Montreal-based investment firm Letko, Brosseau & Associates Inc. and San Diego’s Brandes Investment Partners LP, which together control more than 19 per cent of Dorel’s outstanding class B subordinate shares voiced their opposition to the amended offer, which was increased from the initial Nov. 2 offer of $14.50 per share.

« We believe that several minority shareholders shared our opinion, » said Letko vice-president Stephane Lebrun, during a phone interview.

« We are confident of the long-term potential of the company and we have confidence in the managers in place.”

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Pandemic funds helping Montreal businesses build for a better tomorrow




Many entrepreneurs have had to tap into government loans during the pandemic, at first just to survive, but now some are using the money to better prepare their businesses for the post-COVID future.

One of those businesses is Del Friscos, a popular family restaurant in Dollard-des-Ormeaux that, like many Montreal-area restaurants, has had to adapt from a sit-down establishment to one that takes orders online for takeout or delivery.

“It was hard going from totally in-house seating,” said Del Friscos co-owner Terry Konstas. “We didn’t have an in-house delivery system, which we quickly added. There were so many of our employees that were laid off that wanted to work so we adapted to a delivery system and added platforms like Uber and DoorDash.”

Helping them through the transition were emergency grants and low-interest loans from the federal and provincial governments, some of which are directly administered by PME MTL, a non-profit business-development organization established to assist the island’s small and medium-sized businesses.

Konstas said he had never even heard of PME MTL until a customer told him about them and when he got in touch, he discovered there were many government programs available to help his business get through the downturn and build for the future. “They’ve been very helpful right from day one,” said Konstas.

“We used some of the funds to catch up on our suppliers and our rents, the part that wasn’t covered from the federal side, and we used some of it for our new virtual concepts,” he said, referring to a virtual kitchen model which the restaurant has since adopted.

The virtual kitchen lets them create completely different menu items from the casual American Italian dishes that Del Friscos is known for and market them under different restaurant brand names. Under the Prasinó Soup & Salad banner, they sell healthy Greek options and their Stallone’s Sub Shop brand offers hearty sandwiches, yet the food from both is created in the same Del Friscos kitchen.

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Downtown Montreal office, retail vacancies continue to rise




Some of downtown Montreal’s key economic indicators are heading in the wrong direction.

Office and retail vacancies in the city’s central core continued to climb in the fourth quarter of 2020, according to a quarterly report released Thursday by the Urban Development Institute of Quebec and the Montréal Centre-Ville merchants association. The report, whose first edition was published in October, aims to paint a socio-economic picture of the downtown area.

The survey also found office space available for sublet had increased during the fourth quarter, which may foreshadow even more vacancies when leases expire. On the residential front, condo sales fell as new listings soared — a sign that the downtown area may be losing some of its appeal to homeowners.

“It’s impossible not to be preoccupied by the rapid increase in office vacancies,” Jean-Marc Fournier, the former Quebec politician who now heads the UDI, said Thursday in an interview.

Still, with COVID-19 vaccinations set to accelerate in the coming months, “the economic picture is bound to improve,” he said. “People will start returning downtown. It’s much too early to say the office market is going to disappear.”

Public health measures implemented since the start of the pandemic almost a year ago — such as caps on office capacity — have deprived downtown Montreal of more than 500,000 workers and students. A mere 4,163 university and CEGEP students attended in-person classes in the second quarter, the most recent period for which figures are available. Border closures and travel restrictions have also brought tourism to a standstill, hurting hotels and thousands of local businesses.

Seventy per cent of downtown workers carried out their professional activities at home more than three days a week during the fourth quarter, the report said, citing an online survey of 1,000 Montreal-area residents conducted last month.

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