Battles of unequals

More admissions and allegations came to light this week in John Furlong’s campaign against people who claim to be his victims, writer Laura Robinson and the Georgia Straight, publisher of an atypical piece, one not layered with reverence for VANOC’s former chief.

I have sympathy for the accused and for his accusers. Passage of time since the alleged acts, while problematic for prosecution of criminal behaviour, also prejudices the defence. Yet, as I was once a child victimized by assault, I understand how difficult it is to raise painful memories, particularly when there is concern about being believed and no expectation of holding anyone to account.

The history of children victimized in residential and church schools conditions aboriginals to that conjecture. In the nineties, an RCMP task force investigated thousands of tips regarding assaults on First Nations children and it identified more than 120 suspects. Some of the convicted were serial offenders who moved from one church institution to another.

In Furlong’s time under Bishop Fergus O’Grady, the stated aim of Catholics was to “integrate” white and Indian students. However, the real objective was to assimilate First Nations into a Catholic way of life, not to foster mutual understanding and respect for cultural differences. Sto:lo elder Joe Aleck, after most of a life involved with schools serving First Nations, said, “They were trying to eliminate our culture.”

The Irish church that fostered young John Furlong before he moved to Canada was infamous for abuse of thousands of children between the 1930s and the 1990s. In 2010, Pope Benedict wrote a pastoral letter that included:

I am truly sorry for the harm done to generations of Irish Catholics who suffered sinful and criminal abuse at the hands of priests, brothers and nuns.

Claims that school children in northern BC suffered abuse in the days new immigrant Furlong served his church are indisputable but remarkable because of his current profile in the community. Before joining the 2010 Olympics organization, Furlong served as General Manager of the posh Arbutus Club, playground of Vancouver’s crème de la crème. His performance during the games resulted in numerous gainful opportunities. His career prospects, he claims, are harmed by Ms. Robinson’s reporting.

Furlong employs one of the province’s top lawyers but his actions since Georgia Straight published Robinson’s story seem more driven by public relations strategists than legal experts. After great huffing and puffing against the newspaper after its September 2012 feature, the paper published this today:

THE FORMER CEO of the Vancouver Olympics, John Furlong, won’t proceed with a defamation suit against the Georgia Straight, publisher and editor Dan McLeod, and editor Charlie Smith.

Less than a year after filing his claim in B.C. Supreme Court—and before the case had reached examination for discovery—Furlong filed a notice of discontinuance in B.C. Supreme Court on October 29…

Furlong emphasized in interviews that he intended to focus efforts on Laura Robinson. Yet, he’s done little to further the legal action since it was filed against her. Little, that is, besides chatting with compliant media friends. (See Bob Mackin’s contribution at J-Source.)

I’m troubled by this Furlong claim, made during an interview with CTV’s Lisa LaFlamme:

I’m going to escalate this… I’m going to try and get this into a courtroom… It’s been hellish for me, my family… And now, the RCMP have come to a conclusion and they’ve concluded I’ve done nothing wrong.

This latter assertion seems based on an email dated six-month ago from Cpl. Quinton Mackie, the content of which is shown below. Furlong’s claim was quickly disavowed by police who stated the file is still open.

The former Olympics executive also damages credibility in responses to questions about rewriting the history of his arrival in Canada. The insistence that his book aimed to avoid biographical detail is belied by the book itself.

Perhaps Furlong’s PR/legal team will claim Robinson the reporter deserves special attention because she is waging a “personal vendetta” against him. That’s been their allegation but my review of the record finds it unproven. When a commentator faults policies and actions of a public figure, that is not a vendetta unless bias, deliberate inaccuracy and persistent malice can be demonstrated. I find disagreement and reluctance to praise but not malice.

Ms. Robinson’s reporting in the Straight was backed with affidavits sworn by people claiming to be victims. We’re left wondering if the decision to leave her as the lone defendant is related to her admitted lack of financial resources for a defence and her vulnerability to extended delays in process. This week’s attempt to block Robinson from appearing before a Danish sport conference might be interpreted as an effort to cause her financial harm. In fact, she says a claim for damages may be initiated.

It’s unclear how this situation will proceed. I can’t see that Furlong’s reputation will be much further damaged; he has many influential friends and a sympathetic BC media. His opponents in present legal actions are unable to proceed on their own resources; they are not persons of means. As a result, I expect the Robinson effort will end in due course and the plaintiff will explain that the case is not worth pursuing because the amount that might be realized is less than the cost of action.

In politics and law, advantage never goes to the poor.


Sent: April-12-13 3:04 PM


Subject: Sexual abuse allegation

Good day Mr. Storrow

As per our conversation earlier today:

With respect to the sexual abuse allegation brought forward by Beverly Abraham through Laura Robinson. I can tell you that the RCMP have concluded their investigation into that matter and have found nothing to substantiate the complaint, as a result there will be no report to Crown Counsel forwarded.

The RCMP continue to speak to people that were mentioned in Laura Robinson’s statement of Defense. I will update you on this matter once all have been spoken to and a determination has been made with respect to any criminal wrong doing.

Best regards

8 replies »

  1. The RCMP in BC have become an evil entity, murdering innocent people and ignoring justice for the poor. A largely 'old boys club', the RCMP have become a national joke of dated thugs, overseen by goons who have advanced by the 'Peter Principle'.

    What was once an icon of Canada, the RCMP have devolved into a third rate and corrupt police force, shielding the elites from prosecution, while the elites protect them judicial action.


  2. mr furlong has chosen to sue the messenger. ignoring the paper that made the allegations public (thereby actually doing damage to his reputation) and also ignoring the people who made the accusations (ummmmm….. your not going to sue the people you claim have made false allegations?????).

    this is nothing but PR spin, but sadly unless a special prosecutor is appointed nothing will ever happen here. as mr Furling is a BC Liberal insider, unless CBC,global,the province,sun and cknw can put serious public pressure on our cheerleader premier (ROFL, we all know how fair and unbiased our media is in BC) this just goes away and Furlong will be given some plum appointment by the BC Libs in the future.


  3. I bought a t-shirt a number of years ago that says:

    “RCMP – Canada's largest street gang”.

    Then I look at the two thugs in the photo of this article and am sickened.


  4. Gotta be the dumbest legal move I have ever observed; the entire defamation case rests with the publication of the Robinson materials. Without publication of the author’s writings, the material sits on someone’ desk and poses no harm to anyone, especially Furlong.

    Splitting the case like that does little to prop up the defendant’s claims of actionable defamation, slander, or libel.


  5. The Straight's pocket are presumably deeper than Robinson's, so why is Furlong going after the reporter alone.

    Easier to go after the one who can least defend themselves? ….. sounds like a trait….


  6. I think, but I maybe wrong, that his counsel maybe advising him that pursuing a defamation case against Ms. Robinson is premature. If by some chance he is proven innocent in the future then maybe but whilst there are affidavits sworn by those claiming to be victims no, she is simply doing her job.
    This is simply a ploy on his part to intimidate her.


  7. Libel and slander suits are commonly threatened to intimidate. Bloggers who have developed an audience must be aware of what is permissible fair comment and what is not. (Nobody cares much about rants that get published but read by almost nobody.)

    Furlong seems to have gone beyond intimidation because that has not been working with Robinson. She is continuing to speak out about more than the abuse allegations. She's an articulate critic of the Olympics movement and anyone who's examined international sports governance knows that it is a ripe target. Some of the most heard voices in the media are recipients of hard cash from the people they are supposed to cover. Amateur and pseudo-amateur sports are big business and the leaders are diligent in protecting their financial interests. Robinson, from what I see, is an idealist who cares about athletics but hates the way the business is conducted.


  8. Furlong most likely dropped the suit against the Straight because they have deep pockets. He could have lost, especially if they brought the accusers into court. The reporter, well she has limited resources and can't fight back. Furlong can always say he dropped the suit because there is nothing to gain from her. Of course there still is the matter of the 8 affidavids.

    The email from the RCMP, my god. That certainly doesn't read like a legal letter at all. the closig–Best regards Quinton. It sounds like a letter to a golfing buddy. This is an important legal matter. You sign letters such as that with Yours sincerely or Yours truly, and then Rank and name or name and rank. just how close are “quinton” and John Forlong?

    Oh well Furlong is part of the lieberal group and we know what they have done to B.C. This is just another example of what a pile of shit this all is.


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