5 janvier 2008



In my book L’affaire Coffin: une supercherie? (The Coffin Affair: A Hoax?) published by Wilson & Lafleur, in Montreal, last November, I came to the conclusion that the Coffin’s trial was authentic but that the Coffin affair was a hoax. Who are responsible for that hoax? In PART III of his report, the honourable justice Roger Brossard identifies those responsible for that hoax. For you enjoyment, I reproduce hereafter a literal translation of that PART III. For those still sceptical, I shall post later on this blog testimonies heard before the Brossard Commission that support this assertion.



One might have thought that following all those procedures and several proceedings before this country’s courts and with the federal authorities and numerous judgments and decisions of our country’s tribunals and of the federal Government, the Coffin affair was classified.
It was not so.
From the day following the execution, on the 11th of February, the first edition of the Toronto Daily Star, and indeed, about which one may not say that it was the cleanest and most dignified of its issues, gave the public for a prey the affidavit that Wilbert Coffin had signed on the 9th of October 1955 in support of his counsels’ proceedings with the federal cabinet, published the transcript of a writing titled Last Will and Testament of Wilbert Coffin, reproduced with Coffin’s photograph, a document dated the 9th February 1956 titled Schedule A and bearing the signature of Wilbert Coffin, and describing, with several photographs, scenes which might had happened before the Bordeaux jail at the time of Coffin’s execution, description and scenes that the enquiry of this Commission has proven mostly false.
The legend of Coffin’s non guiltiness and the miscarriage of justice which might have constituted his condemnation took root in a campaign, mute but real, for the abolishment of capital punishment.
A few months later, Mr. John Edward Belliveau, a newspaperman with the Toronto Daily Star, put together some of the articles he had written while covering Coffin’s trial, and published a book titled The Coffin Murder Case, a work of a fine literary and poetic style which did not contain direct and serious accusations against whomsoever in particular but raised very cleverly doubts as to the exactness of the facts laid in proof at Coffin’s trial, suggested, without affirming with strength however, certain facts which might not have been laid in proof and hinted that capital punishment might had been inflicted to an innocent man.
I shall discuss in a distinct chapter of this report Mr. Belliveau’s book to underline some important inaccuracies which might have had serious consequences on public opinion.
Two years later, Mr. Jacques Hébert who, like Mr. Belliveau and Maître Maloney, seem to have been long time supporters of the abolishment of capital punishment, published the first of two books on the Coffin affair, titled Coffin was Innocent; this work being in part inspired, on Mr. Hébert’s own admission, by Mr. Belliveau’s reports (if not by his book?) and by some other newspapermen of Toronto and Pennsylvania from whom Mr. Belliveau had drawn inspiration, reports which were found in what was described as the Toronto Star “Library”; the author (Mr. Hébert) who had also drawn his inspiration partly from information communicated to him by Maître Gravel, took as being his own a good number of affirmations contained in Mr. Belliveau’s book, adding information of his own and made the first violent charges which were already pretty violent.
The Coffin affair was exposed before the public who had not been intelligently, objectively and sufficiently informed on the reasons justifying the judicial decisions which had preceded the final condemnation and execution of Coffin.
In December 1958, a bomb exploded. An Indian known as Thompson, a Canadian citizen native of the St. Regis reservation located on the borders of the Province of Québec and the State of New York, was arrested in Miami on charges of thefts. We shall devote a chapter to the Thompson affair. He accused himself of the murder of the three American hunters perpetrated in the Gaspé bush in 1953. As one might have expected, the Canadian and United States press gave to that confession great publicity. Upon learning about this event, Mr. Hébert and Maître Gravel rushed, the first one on a plane flying to Miami, and the second one, on telephones connected to Miami. A few days later, Thompson unsaid his admissions, explained that he had done so only with the purpose of escaping American justice, and consented to be submitted to a lie detector test, and in circumstances remained obscure, obtained from an American magistrate his liberation.
After this revival of publicity, the Coffin affair remained quiet for a few years; but the curiosity of the public was however kept excited through a program organized and aired by the CBC on CLOSE-UP.
Until that moment, the attention had been retained in great part by the English language television, except for the first book of Mr. Jacques Hébert; time was approaching where French language television and the press would have their turn.
Likewise in Toronto, the publicity bordering on yellow journalism, given to the Coffin affair from 1953 to 1956 resulted in great part, according to a former newspaperman of the Toronto Star, Mr. MacLean, from the frantic competition between two Toronto newspapers, the Toronto Daily Star and the Toronto Evening Telegram, likewise in the Province of Québec, the revival of publicity given to the Coffin affair resulted, indirectly however, from the competition that took place for a few months between two Montreal dailies, La Presse and the Nouveau Journal partly through news and sensational reports.
It appears, from the testimony of Mr. Gérard Pelletier, editor of La Presse, and from Mr. Jean-Guy Lacroix who describes himself as being a freelance newspaperman; the latter was entrusted by his employers La Presse the task of making an inquiry on the activities of the Provincial Police for “special” reports. To this end, Mr. Lacroix thought it necessary to communicate with the former sergeant Doyon of the Provincial Police who, in the beginning of the summer of 1961 had been fired by the Provincial Police. At the time of the murder of the three American hunters, this police officer was in charge of the Gaspé police station. Officers of the Provincial Police came from Québec City, captains Alphonse Matte and Raoul Sirois, were called upon to help him in carrying out an enquiry on the circumstances of the disappearance of three American hunters. This put him out of countenance and humiliated him. As we shall see in a following chapter, Mr. Lacroix’s invitation appears to have been an unforeseen occasion for Mr. Doyon to manifest his rancour towards his former colleagues and Provincial Police superiors which was preying on his mind since his dismissal.
Messrs. Lacroix and Doyon thought that they could obtain from Mr. Jacques Hébert, author of Coffin was innocent, information and advise which might be useful to them. Through the editor of La Presse, they were put in contact with Mr. Hébert and they met him at the office of Mr. Pelletier, in Montréal.
Following this first meeting between Mr. Doyon and Mr. Lacroix, on the one hand, and Mr. Hébert, on the other, the latter started a new enquiry with the manifest purpose, if one may judge by the foreword of Mr. Hébert’s book published in December 1963 under the title I Accuse the Assassins of Coffin, to prove that Coffin was innocent in the manner Mr. Hébert had stated it in his first book, that his condemnation and execution had been a miscarriage of justice and these miscarriages of justice were imputable to the methods used by all officers of justice who had been involved in the preparation and exposition of the proof at Coffin’s trial, starting with the Premier of the time, the Solicitor General of the time and the Assistant Attorney General remained in function since then including the attorneys for the Crown who had acted on behalf of the Crown at the trial, one of Coffin’s attorney, and officers of the Provincial Police who had been in charge of the police enquiry and the preparation of the proof.
In 1963, Mr. Hébert wrote a new book which he launched on the market on the 4th of December 1963 under the title I Accuse the Assassins of Coffin.
It is hardly necessary to underline that a certain number of newspapers and newspapermen eager for news capable of sensational effects and more desirous to help destroy than to help construct, were happy to give Mr. Hébert’s book the greatest publicity possible.
Mr. Hébert’s book was for the least sensational enough with forthright and vitriolic accusations directed against a certain number of persons who had participated in the preparation and the exposition of the proof at Coffin’s trial.
Now, it occurred that when Mr. Hébert’s book was launched, the newspaper La Presse, in Montreal, had already, by virtue of an agreement concluded several months before, the right to reproduce in extenso and in priority, in the newspaper, Mr. Hébert’s book in all or in part, and that certain newspapermen, writers or Radio-Canada producers had obtained from Mr. Hébert, a few days before the marketing of the book, communication of the foul proof.
From the 4th December 1963, the same day Mr. Hébert’s book was launched, Radio-Canada was airing, on its program “Aujourd’hui”, a televised enquiry on certain persons mentioned in the book; a few days later, the newspaper La Presse, in one or two issues, published broad excerpts of the book and another television station, Télé-Métropole, joined the band with its own interviews.
It was no more a few thousand of readers but hundred of thousand, and may be millions of readers, listeners and television viewers that the accusations contained in Mr. Hébert’s book reached, in spite of late efforts from those responsible for the televised enquiry to correct, in the course of the last sitting of their enquiry, the harmful effects of the first two sittings when they realized that they had gone astray, that an enquiry of that sort was manifestly beyond their means and outside of their attributions and might have become a source of injustice.
Now, in the first pages of the book, in a warning to the readers, which contained the most vitriolic lines of the whole book, the author of I Accuse the Assassins of Coffin, wrote, among other things, what follows:

pp. 8 and 9:
“Unless we are a people without self-respect, such a miscarriage of justice shall shake up the whole country. This shall be the finishing blow for capital punishment, we shall amend the laws, we shall search for the three American hunters’ real assassins, and we shall unmask and punish those, conscious or not, of Coffin: politicians, civil servants, police officers or lawyers.
All of this shall not resuscitate the prospector, but shall restore a bit the confidence of citizens in a justice that the Duplessis government, its police and its counsels had degraded and that the actual government does not seem in a hurry to rehabilitate.
What I ask from the government of this province, I know, is not usual: this would be the first time, in Canada, that a miscarriage of justice would have caused the creation of a royal commission of enquiry and instigate, eventually, the holding of a new trial. But this has been done elsewhere in civilized countries and, in each case, by so doing the people’s respect for its tribunals was strengthened.
I venture to think that our governments shall not be intimidated by strong pressures that shall be exerted on them. A great number of individuals have reasons for such a new enquiry never to take place. They shall do everything to stop it, specially those who, after the Coffin affair, have gained power and respectability.

It would really be too unjust and too immoral for individuals who were dead set against Coffin with a rare ferocity, who are responsible for the death of an innocent may yet, I do not know through what blackmail, succeed in stifling this scandal and continue to walk head up amongst a population who claims justice.”

The publication of Mr. Hébert’s second book which contained, undoubtedly, affirmations much more brutal and accusations much more violent than the first one contained, would not have sufficed, in itself, to render necessary the holding of an enquiry; this book might have known the same fate that the first one had and about which Mr. Hébert wrote “that he had only succeeded in moving a few thousand or a few dozens of thousand of citizens whereas he had believed, that its sole publication would have sufficed for a scandal to break out.” This second book having received however, not only publicity but a circulation increased through considerable reproduction of its pages in newspapers and through a televised enquiry, it was to the population of the province that these brutal affirmations and violent accusations were thrown as food for the mind. Not only it became necessary for the authorities to make an enquiry on the alleged facts at the basis of the accusations advanced, but the authorities had the duty to institute such an enquiry; their silence would have been fatally interpreted, as acquiescing in the truth of those accusations, as escaping the obligation to discover the truth, for fear to divulge it to the public. Any other decision would have stricken “another” serious blow to the respect that justice and those who administer it must inspire to the public.
The sole fact that this enquiry was necessary has, in itself, constituted its usefulness.
I hope that the findings which have been revealed before this Commission, the conclusions which we must draw from and the suggestions that may arise from them will bring out still more its usefulness and that the present report shall constitute a convincing response to the question so often asked by those whose trade is having doubts about everything: “What will that give?”

4 commentaires:

Anonyme a dit...

----- Original Message -----
From: Anonyme
To: clementf@sympatico.ca
Sent: Tuesday, January 22, 2008 2:10 PM
Subject: [Clément Fortin] Nouveau commentaire sur THE COFFIN AFFAIR: A HOAX - MASS MEDIA RESPONSIBLE....

Anonyme a ajouté un nouveau commentaire sur votre message blog "THE COFFIN AFFAIR: A HOAX - MASS MEDIA RESPONSIBLE..." :

It is way beyond stupidity; to believe one man alone could walk into the Gaspe woods and murder three Americans all by himself... wake up and smell the coffee boys!!!
The question I would like answered is who would gain by the death of the Americans, and what? Also, who took over Mr. Coffins mine claims after he was jailed for the murder…? I do not believe this was just as simple as a robbery…

Envoyé par Anonyme à Clément Fortin le 22 janvier, 2008 14:10

Anonyme a dit...

so, mr. Fortin, do you have the answers to all those unanswered questions. please give them to us!
The police in Gaspe had no evidence, no witnesses, so what was coffins trial based on.
rumer and gossip, and a few police officers who wanted 15 minutes of fame at any cost!

Clément Fortin a dit...

Sir, I answer all your questions in my 384 page book. Unfortunately, it is not yet available in English.

Anonyme a dit...

when will the book be available in english? If those questions were answered, and i doubt very much they were,because it seems noone can answer them, you writers just dance around in your writings,to somehow escape the answers people are asking. I would sure like to see your answers to those questions.