Charges against a man who threatened the life of the NWT’s chief public health officer have been dropped by the Crown after he completed a restorative justice program.
Clinton Daniel Leussink, 28, of Alberta, completed the diversion plan – arranged outside the regular court system – and entered into a peace bond arrangement on Monday in NWT Territorial Court.
“Mr Leussink completed his diversion program successfully. He entered into a nine-month peace bond,” said Crown prosecutor Angie Paquin. “Consequently, the Crown withdrew the two counts.”
The Alberta trucker was charged with uttering threats to cause death or bodily harm and intimidation during a call to Dr Kami Kandola’s office that was reported to police on January 20.
Leussink was taken into custody on January 22 and RCMP took the unusual step of issuing a news release that identified the accused.
“While RCMP usually does not disclose the identity of a victim of crime, it was very concerning to learn of the reports of a threatening statement made toward the chief public health officer,” said RCMP Superintendent Jeffrey Christie in a January 25 statement.
“Everyone, including the chief public health officer and employees, is entitled to a safe work environment. NT RCMP will investigate any comments that may be perceived as intimidating thoroughly and charge accordingly.”
Leussink was released on bail and hired an attorney. Adjournments in the case had been heard in Yellowknife but Monday’s appearance was in Hay River.
The incident prompted the president of the Canadian Medical Association to state: “The bullying of public health officials must stop immediately.”
Dr Ann Collins expressed concern at some of the harassment of medical officials being reported across Canada.
“Since the beginning of the pandemic, this worrying phenomenon has escalated,” Dr Collins wrote on the association’s website.
“What began as online harassment has evolved into threats and in-person intimidation.
“We must speak out against such intimidation, whether online or in-person, and urge those responsible for overseeing social media platforms and law enforcement bodies to put an end to this highly alarming conduct.”
The RCMP and Crown may each divert selected criminal matters, considered less serious in nature, away from the traditional court system.
The NWT’s Department of Justice says factors taken into consideration include the impact to and feelings of the victims, and the offender’s criminal history and attitude toward the charges.
Diversion is only possible if the offender accepts responsibility for the offence.
The program depends on the crime but can include counselling, a bar on the accused having contact with the victims or other persons involved, and any apology, either in person or in writing.
What Leussink completed in his program was not immediately clear.
When a matter is diverted, the offender does not receive a criminal record.