by Irvin Muchnick
Carla Qualtrough, Canada’s sports minister, finally responded to First Nations advocates who want the government to examine the continued high-level credentials of John Furlong, chief of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. As the series of articles linked below chronicles, there is compelling evidence that Furlong — an Irish native who appears to have crossed paths with Irish-American rapist Olympic swimming coach George Gibney, global sports’ No. 1 fugitive from justice — abused many native children while teaching at a Catholic missionary school.
Below is the full text of Canadian journalist Laura Robinson’s letter to Minister Qualtrough refuting the government’s false statements on the Furlong matter.
Concussion Inc. also has reported that another Canadian, former national swimming team member J.P. Cote, who now lives in Florida, recently appealed to Qualtrough regarding the media credentials, at the upcoming Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, of Alex Pussieldi, a documented sexual abuser during his decade-plus as a coach in Florida. Pussieldi is now a commentator for the SporTV network in his native Brazil.
There is new precedent for cross-national intervention to bar access to athletes of known dangerous individuals. Australian-Brazilian swim coach Scott Volkers has been barred from the Rio Games after John Coates, president of the Australian Olympic Committee, pointed out voluminous credible allegations of Volkers’ abuses during his time in Australia. J.P. Cote argues that Brazilian-American Alex Pussieldi is a more clear and present danger than Volkers in the sense that he will be roaming free at all Olympic venues, not just swimming. But the Canadian sports minister has not responded to Cote’s letter or Concussion Inc.’s requests for comment.
The Wall Street Journal last month had good coverage of the Volkers situation — see http://www.wsj.com/articles/scandal-follows-a-swim-coach-to-brazil-1464033986. Journal reporter Will Connors has not responded to our queries regarding similar coverage of Pussieldi.
Here’s the full text of Canadian writer Laura Robinson’s letter to Sports Minister Qualtrough.
Dear Minister Qualtrough:
Your June 3, 2016 response to Ms. Cathy Woodgate’s letter to the prime minister was forwarded to me and is attached. Please note Ms. Woodgate’s letter of November 26, 2015 was addressed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Here is the letter in full: http://canadalandshow.com/article/open-letter-furlongs-accusers-prime-minister-trudeau. Prime Minister Trudeau has never replied to Ms. Woodgate, even after she posted a petition about it: https://www.change.org/p/justin-trudeau-support-unheard-stories-of-first-nations-day-school-abuse
With all due respect, I would like to correct errors within your letter to Ms. Woodgate and ask again for your government’s response to her and her fellow student’s requests that your government meet with John Furlong’s former students and that he be removed as chair of Own The Podium.
First of all you state, “[Own the Podium] is an independent organization with a democratically elected Board of Directors.” Unless the Trudeau government has drastically changed the way in which the Own The Podium board is chosen, the board is appointed, not elected. In 2010 the board was appointed by Stephen Harper’s government and Mr. Harper himself appointed chair John Furlong: http://news.gc.ca/web/article-en.do?nid=532919. Since 2010, when Mr. Furlong was appointed, it appears new board members are named by Own The Podium: http://ownthepodium.org/SpecialPages/News/Own-the-Podium-Names-Respected-Canadian-Paralympic.aspx. Could you or Own The Podium outline how those considered for the board are selected as possible candides? What is it, elected or named?
OTP is funded mainly through the federal government and should meet, as would be expected from any government funded organization, the ethical standards of the government of the time. Prime Minister Trudeau stated on December 8, 2015 to the AFN; “It is time for a renewed, nation-to-nation relationship with First Nations peoples, one that understands that the constitutionally guaranteed rights of First Nations in Canada are not an inconvenience but rather a sacred obligation.”
Prime Minister Trudeau also stated that same day, “…there is an urgent need for a renewed relationship between the federal government and the Indigenous Peoples in Canada. One built on trust, recognition and respect for rights, and a commitment that the status quo must end. And second, the importance of fairness and equality of opportunity for Aboriginal Peoples in Canada.” He committed your government to fulfilling all the Calls to Action within the TRC Report. The Report mentions on numerous occasions the way in which Aboriginal peoples have been stereotyped and the need for this stereotyping to end.
Mr. Furlong and his legal counsel referred to allegations of abuse made by First Nations people as “lies” and “fabrications.” These are unfounded and dangerous stereotypes. Mr. Furlong discontinued his suit against the Georgia Straight and then against myself concerning the allegations made by First Nations people in my September 27, 2012 article and in the two queries I sent Own The Podium after many more people came forward with new allegations. I have attached many of those allegations. The discontinuance of his suit is an admission that the statements were accurate.
Contrary to another error in your letter, the statements from First Nations people “have not been dealt with by the Canadian justice system.” Justice Wedge of the B.C. Supreme Court declared at the beginning of my defamation trial against Mr. Furlong that what was at issue was not the truth of the Georgia Straight story but whether or not Mr. Furlong had defamed me. She then disallowed statements and affidavits made by First Nations people at trial, calling them hearsay. She wrongly made a number of assumptions about those very people, how they made their statements and affidavits, and how they submitted them. Justice Wedge did this while also disallowing me from describing what First Nations people said and how many people made allegations. Justice Wedge’s assumptions were, tragically, based on her own unfounded and untrue stereotypes, which is why I made a formal complaint to the Canadian Judicial Council about her bias, which I have sent–once more–to you.
When dozens of people–many of whom live hundreds and even thousands of kilometres from one another, and do not have telephones or computers–make allegations of abuse against an individual, it establishes a pattern of behaviour. Patterns of behaviour are a way in which we test the veracity of statements. At trial Justice Wedge declared, when referring to statements made by First Nations people after the story was published, “But whether it’s ten or twenty or thirty, really at the end of the day what difference does that make?” She then disallowed me from mentioning the number of people who came forward with allegations about Mr. Furlong after the publication of the article; at least another twenty-five people made statements. Combined with the twenty-two who gave statements in advance of the article (Justice Wedge got that number wrong too when she declared eight “ultimately” gave statements), there were nearly four dozen people alleging abuse by Mr. Furlong. By the time the June 2015 trial occurred, there were sixty; a non-Native man called me the first day of the trial with yet another allegation.
Justice Wedge assumed, completely incorrectly, that Mr. Furlong’s former students had unwittingly subjected themselves to false memory syndrome. She decided to incorrectly judge the veracity of statements made by First Nations people without reading them, and disallowed any description of those statements. She once again stereotyped First Nations people and spoke on their behalf–which wasn’t just wrong, it was patronizing. Though I already sent you my letter to the Canadian Judicial Council that chronicles Justice Wedge’s errors, and outlines why the errors were in fact errors, I have attached it again as the evidence shows the opposite of what you tell Ms. Woodgate; the courts have not deal with the allegations. Two of the six appendices that accompany the letter are also attached, giving much of the evidence showing Justice Wedge’s errors. I will send you the other appendices in separate emails as they are large.
I believe the First Nations people of Northern B.C. who had to endure Immaculata Day School and Prince George College, where Mr. Furlong was a hostel supervisor as the college was a residential high-school, deserve the commitments made by your government and the prime minister as much as all other First Nations people do.