Nunavut court dismisses accused abuser’s application to stay proceedings
Norman Ford will be tried on historical sexual assault charges in March
Nunavut Justice Susan Cooper has dismissed an application to stay proceedings in the trial of an accused abuser.
Norman Ford is charged in relation to a sexual assault alleged to have happened in 1987 and 1988.
The Rankin Inlet man was in custody on unrelated matters in June 2018 when he was charged with this latest offence, according to the background provided in the Feb. 9 decision.
Ford’s first appearance was scheduled for August 2018 in Rankin Inlet, but the accused was unable to attend that hearing while he was in custody in southern Canada. The matter was then adjourned until September 2018.
His defence argued that the failure to have Ford attend his first appearance made it impossible to get instructions from the accused.
That was only the first of number of delays. The preliminary hearing was then delayed in 2019, due to the medical circumstances of the complainant, and then again in early 2020, when Nunavut went into lockdown and regular court operations were suspended.
That prompted Ford’s defence to bring forward an application for a judicial stay of proceedings on the basis that his right to be tried within a reasonable time had been infringed.
That’s based on the 2016 Supreme Court of Canada decision R. vs. Jordan, which determined that trials should finish no later than 30 months after a person is charged.
In her Feb. 9 decision, Cooper called many of the delays “unexpected and not avoidable.”
“I find that this delay of 182 days is due to exceptional circumstances, bringing the time between charge and anticipated trial below the Jordan ceiling,” Cooper wrote.
Cooper dismissed the application, and Ford’s matter is scheduled to go to trial on March 8 in Rankin Inlet.
Ford, 66, has an extensive history of sexual assault and sexual interference of minors.
Well-known Nunavut singer and songwriter Susan Aglukark told her personal story of Ford’s abuse in her testimony to the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in 2018.
Aglukark’s previous testimony helped convict Ford of the historical sexual assault of other victims.