This is the story of a few Saskatchewan Seniors who attempted to report to the proper authorities improper taxation in what they believed was one Saskatchewan Regional Park Authority. Their attempts to get this corrected resulted in years of retribution and eventually the wrong-doing was discovered to be much wider than initially believed. The retribution was in the form of legal tactics, threats, law suits, Judges and conflict of interest, and stone-walling by political authorities with responsibility for dealing with the situation. They are in jeopardy of losing their homes and saw no other option but to appeal to Canada’s Parliament.
Good day Honourable Chair Sarai and Standing Committee members,
We understand the Standing Committee is generally focused on broad and evolving issues that affect the lives of everyday Canadians. Perhaps our issues will not resonate within your group because every day Canadians do not usually find themselves in civil court defending themselves against well-funded agents of government. “You can’t fight City Hall” is a saying at least 200 years old. Its origins are founded in the belief that bureaucratic structures spending public money will always fight to the bitter end rather than admit a mistake or deliberate wrongdoing. It’s the same theme that prompted US satirist Will Rogers to say the country was being run by the best politicians money could buy.
In a terrible example of “progress”, it is now accepted that politicians will lie and will do so without consequence. Lying by misdirection, by omission or by flat propagating false statements are among the broad unspoken approvals in our world of sound byte politics.
What should be of great concern is that lying in the courts of Canada now come with their own unspoken approvals. The very cornerstone of everything we have been taught since childhood centers around the concept of honesty. This is especially true in courts of law where not too many years ago, those testifying in a court of law did so with their hand on a bible, another cornerstone of our would be “just society”.
However, in our own circumstances we have been told by a member of the Supreme Court that in court perjury is addressed at the discretion of the judge. The everyday citizen hearing that, has to immediately wonder about the discretion of a judge who would allow perjury. It is especially troubling if you are on the side of the courtroom equation facing the perjury.
We have been in contact with numerous Canadians who have been on the wrong end of judicial discretion regarding perjured statements. We have witnessed it up close and personal three times in two years, all under the same judge. In a 2021 Canadian Judicial Council review, Chief Justice for the Supreme Court of British Columbia, Christopher Hinkson, stated it was within a judge’s discretionary right to ignore perjury.
In our case the line between justice and politics became very blurred and, in applications seven and eight, perjury prevailed and court decisions were made based on the falsehoods. This was not alleged perjury that might be claimed by a disappointed loser in a court battle; this was material fact perjury verified by Freedom of Information documents received from Municipal Government which disproved the often-used perjury contained in the sworn statements of another agent of Government.
In practical terms we are helpless to act to protect ourselves simply because we don’t have access to public funds to freely spend on the litigation industry that is always at the center of these disputes.
If this trend continues it will soon, if it’s not already, be a matter of whoever has the best Liar, wins.
PERJURY: a Criminal Code of Canada indictable offence; but go ahead and lie in your affidavit, turns out addressing perjury is a matter of judicial discretion NOT law.
We are a small group of people who have been Respondents in serial applications filed by an agent of the Government of Saskatchewan. To date (2017-2021), the Suffern Lake Regional Park Authority, has initiated eight court actions against the same group of five people.
Committee Member Randall Garrison should be familiar with the background of this story; he and Attorney General Lametti received a request for a public inquiry into the actions of the Saskatchewan government and its agencies which included a wealth of supporting evidence in May of 2022. Since May, we have submitted two requests for Judicial Conduct Review to the Canadian Judicial Council regarding Justice Lyle Zuk who presided over applications seven and eight - SKQB 174 and 175 of 2021. Justice Zuk was reviewed in a related court action (SKQB 230 of 2019) in 2020. This will be the third time in two years Justice Zuk has faced CJC complaints based on his handling of three cases initiated by the same Applicant. Another related case (SKQB231 of 2019) generated a Judicial Conduct Review of Madam Justice Gwendolyn Goebel. The Suffern Lake Regional Park Authority is typically made up of seven individuals appointed by the Rural Municipality with mandated taxation oversight for the Park. Between 15 and 20 different representatives have participated in related actions. Only two individuals have participated in all eight actions, former Chairman Harvey Leer and Secretary/Treasurer, David Kiefer. Most actions have been associated with inappropriate, inequitable administration of property taxes within Suffern Lake Regional Park specifically.
Our continued research has since identified inappropriate taxation and exemption processes in other regional parks and seasonal residential properties provincewide.
COMPLAINTS TO THE CANADIAN JUDICIAL COUNCIL
At the core of all four CJC complaints was perjury – perjured statements contained in sworn affidavits provided by the Applicant in multiple court cases. False affidavit information sworn by Mr. Kiefer and suborned by Mr. Leer. Other Park Authority representatives may have been aware, but Mr. Kiefer and Mr. Leer are the only two that can be proven (LA FOIP responsive documents) to have knowingly provided false information to the court, either by direct presentation or supporting the presentation from a position of Authority where a family member was directly involved.
Travis K. Kusch, Counsel for the Park Authority (SKQB 174 of 2021 and SKQB 175 of 2021) knew or should have known these documents were false because, with court approval, he brought forward records from the previous actions. During SKQB230 of 2019, heard by Justice Zuk, last minute information provided through LA FOIP following intervention by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner, revealed that Mr. Kiefer had lied regarding the tax arrears of Chairman Leer’s brother-in-law. Responsive documents were reluctantly provided by the Rural Municipality’s Administrator so she was aware of the perjured statements and by extension, the RM Council and their two Park Authority representatives should also have known.
In his fiat for that SK QB230, Justice Zuk made no mention of perjury. He called Respondents “disingenuous at best” when addressing their tax manipulation claims but dismissed the Park’s application for summary writ of possession.Respondents filed a CJC request raising concerns about the blatant perjury and asking that Justice Zuk be called to account for his defamatory statements. BC Supreme Court Chief Justice, Christopher Hinkson, reviewed Justice Zuk’s conduct. In his written report to Respondents, he said perjury is addressed at the discretion of the judge.
Perjury is well defined in the Criminal Code of Canada, how can it be ignored by choice? The tax arrears scenario was the crux of the Respondents’ defense and the basis for Justice Zuk’s ruling; this was not immaterial fact. Obviously, if perjury is ignored, suborning perjury must also be ignored. Mr. Leer and Mr. Kiefer did not even get a mention in Justice Zuk’s 2020 fiat for SKQB230 of 2019.
2021 COURT ACTIONS
After their 2019 applications were dismissed, the Park Authority took a short break then filed SKQB174 and 175 of 2021. The Applications were identical, similar in content to the previous actions in requesting writ of possession on a residence and a recreational property with the same Respondents from two of the three 2019 Queen's Bench actions. Mysteriously, Justice Zuk showed up on the Queen’s Bench rotation to hear both 2021 cases even though he had faced CJC review by two of the Respondents less than a year earlier. After some discussion in Chambers, all four Respondents accepted Zuk as adjudicator and agreed the two actions were similar enough to be heard simultaneously.
Once again, the tax history of former Chairman Leer's brother-in-law came into play. Mr. Kiefer and Mr. Leer obviously noted the free pass on lying Justice Zuk and Chief Justice Hinkson had provided in the 2019 actions and again presented false information – new lies on the very same issue (in both new cases) making it three blatant perjuries in two years.
The new perjury was simply bizarre claiming the tax evasion (long- term arrears) was because of an estate dispute. For this to be true, the dispute would have to have started five years before the gentleman in question died. This blatant lie, proven by LA FOIP, did not stop Counsel for the Park from including it in his submissions. Incredibly, Justice Zuk again ignored the perjury in both actions. This time he ruled in favor of the Applicant basing his decision on lies and misdirection.
HERE IS A DILEMMA FACING THE JUSTICE SYSTEM AND CJC
Provincial authorities had no interest whatsoever in pursuing matters of tax evasion, perjury, forgery, and other matters arising from inappropriate administration of the rural, vote-rich Regional Parks and other recreational locations.
Had Justice Zuk acknowledged perjury in the last two cases, by default he would be acknowledging perjury in the previous case. For some reason he felt it was a better choice to ignore more perjury than to address it. The effect this had on Respondents seemed to be of little concern to him.
As of October 17, 2022, three different Saskatchewan Justice Ministers/Attorneys General have been made aware of these very serious concerns. Only one responded to a notice describing how tax evasion had been taking place in Suffern Lake Regional Park. His response was, “get a lawyer”. We remain puzzled by why we should be the ones requiring a lawyer. We later learned that while we were advising the Justice Minister of these tax dodging considerations, he, and the Cabinet he was a member of, were fully aware that about $35,000,000 in property values in Saskatchewan had been enjoying inappropriate tax exemptions for years.
As our court battles were underway, Government was quietly disallowing the exemptions in the background, hiding their actions in the value changes of a provincial revaluation year. We have also discovered that Justice Zuk had close ties to Saskatchewan’s ruling Party in the past and had worked as a lawyer in a specific small area of Saskatchewan that had enjoyed 20% of the provincewide inappropriate exemptions. Justice Zuk had also represented a Regional Park in the past that has its own sketchy set of long-term taxation processes. None of which was disclosed by Justice Zuk when he assured us that he could fairly and without bias adjudicate SKQB174 and 175 of 2021. When these and broader issues were raised, AG Lametti’s office advised they could not involve themselves in Provincial matters and referred us to the Saskatchewan Ombudsman. The Office of the Ombudsman has expressed reluctance to become involved citing “if it has been before the courts…” It is now more than two months since that office received our files. There has been no meaningful response. The Canadian Judicial Council has no authority to initiate any sort of Provincial “on the ground” action. The CJC does have a guidebook to assist self-representing litigants in preparing court materials – it is emphasized, in three distinct places, that perjury is a crime.
SO HERE WE ARE
The Attorney General for Canada cannot help us. The CJC identifies a criminal behavior but says its discretionary so they can’t help us. Three provincial Attorneys General have not only ignored the matter as an enforcement issue, in at least one situation the Attorney General of the day participated in clouding a court case by not advancing material change of fact. And the Ombudsman doesn’t want to get involved.
If a judge can consistently ignore perjury that is material to outcomes (and is allowed to), what chance does a citizen have to file related Criminal Code complaints that will be actioned and succeed by way of standard procedure? What Crown Prosecutor will stand up to his/her superior and say, “I’m doing this”? What judge will hear it? The solution to all this is, of course, money and lawyers. The law firm representing the Park Authority has its own guidebook (found on-line) that explains how well a funded client can defeat “financial weaklings”. Government agencies don’t seem to have funding problems. This set of ill-intended serial court actions have become so entangled with civil and criminal matters; mediation is no longer a viable option. We have no desire to take part in any mediated effort that would require us turning a blind eye to criminal behavior. That would be wrong ethically and legally.
Interestingly in his 2022 decisions Justice Zuk denied the possibility of a trial saying it would be too expensive. That is remarkable given the Applicant we were facing had just finished its eighth court adventure with the same group of Respondents. They’d lost or abandoned all previous attempts.
What Justice Zuk really said was, “you can’t afford Justice”.
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Committee there is a gaping hole in the Justice system where cash, connections and deceit, trump (reference intended) spirit and intent of the law. When the wordsmiths in the system work in concert to prevent truth from being exposed or politicians from being embarrassed, the man on the street has little reason to believe the law is equal for everyone. Sadly, you have heard it all before, as have those who preceded you. What is the point of a justice system where laws can be ignored depending upon nothing more than the mood or political leanings of a judge? When truth doesn’t matter and perjury is an acceptable tool in a court action, what is left to believe in? We intend to pursue matters of perjury as described by the Criminal Code of Canada. These are not whimsical allegations; these are perjuries proven by other agents of government. We have shown, without question, that multiple counts of perjury have been committed by members of the Suffern Lake Regional Park Authority, yet we currently have no viable way of bringing charges forward. We will continue to try find a way even though the Government of Canada says it can’t help, the Government of Saskatchewan doesn’t want to, and the Judiciary, well it just doesn’t care. In the meantime, we will have to live with the immediate results of Justice Zuk’s twisted version of justice; however, we will do everything in our power to see the judicial behaviors that support the routine acceptance of perjury come to an end.
Your influence on the laws and the courts of our country should set out to immediately address and remove the optional recognition of perjury and treat it as the laws says it should be – as a criminal offence.
Until offenders face consequences this is a story that will repeat itself over and over again. Ours is not a stand-alone experience. We know many others who have been affected by judicial decisions ignoring material perjury.
YOU DO NOT HAVE TO CHANGE A LAW TO MAKE THIS HAPPEN,
YOU ONLY NEED TO SEE TO IT THE LAW IS APPLIED AS WRITTEN.
IF THAT DOESNT WORK, THEN LET THE BEST LIAR WIN.
It is our intention to make additional submissions to your committee. For a better understanding of our circumstances visit our website https://fiefdomssk.wixsite.com/fuedal-fiefdoms-sask.