Today, I post the last part on jeeps: the end of the camp McCallum jeep story.
In 2009, I intend to go on presenting the Brossard report. However, I will, when necessary, interrupt my regular programme to post news from the Cour du Québec and the Commission d’accès à l’information.
Therefore, upon receipt of a judgment from the Cour du Québec, I will let you know. As I have mentioned to you, I appeared before that Court, on the 12th of November last, requesting permission to consult the shorthand transcripts of the testimonies heard in camera before the Brossard Commission.
I will also, upon receipt, post the decision of the Commission d’accès à l’information on the police file. I informed you that I have requested permission to see this file in its entirety. I have been heard by the Commission on the 28th of October last.
Here is what I will propose to you in the first months of 2009:
a) We will read the GENERAL CONCLUSIONS ON JEEPS AND THE LIST OF ERRORS AND INACCURACIES FOUND IN JACQUES HÉBERT’S BOOKS;
b) We will analyse THE CRITIQUES (They are the authors Belliveau and Hébert, the sources from which they drew their inspiration to write their books, to wit : THE USELESS SOURCES AND THE SOURCES OF INFORMATION (Jacques Hébert borrowed from John Edward Belliveau’s book, newspaper articles from the Toronto Daily Telegram and the Toronto Star, Doyon’s investigations, etc.) AND ANOTHER LIST OF ERRORS AND INACCURACIES FOUND IN THE BOOKS OF BELLIVEAU AND HÉBERT. (Given the length of this chapter, it will be the object of four distinct posts.);
c) THE EX-SERGEANT DOYON CASE (The Brossard Commission has made a thorough study of the ex-sergeant Doyon case, Jacques Hébert’s private detective.
d) THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION (The Brossard Commission has found more errors and inaccuracies in Jacques Hébert’s books. It identifies those responsible for the Coffin affair. You will read about the disgraceful role the media played in the Coffin affair that could have just as well been called the MEDIA AFFAIR.
e) AN EXEMPLE OF ABUSE (Justice Brossard explains how certain newspapermen tried to sabotage his enquiry.
f) THE BROSSARD REPORT MAY NOT AND MUST NOT CONSTITUTE A JUDGMENT (Justice Brossard recalls that his mandate comprised the study of certain persons’ doings but not the remaking of Coffin’s trial.)
g) GENERAL CONCLUSIONS (The Brossard Commission reviews all the elements of proof and explains how the questions raised by THE CRITIQUES have been answered)
IN THE MEANTIME, FOR A DIFFERENT POINT OF VIEW, I SUGGEST THAT YOU HAVE A PEEP AT MR. LEW STODDARD’S BLOG:
(A literal translation by Clément Fortin)
REPORT OF THE BROSSARD COMMISSION OF ENQUIRY INTO THE COFFIN AFFAIR (27TH OF NOVEMBER 1964) VOL. 1 CHAPTER 5 (Part XV)
THE JEEP WHOSE PRESENCE IN THE GASPÉ PENINSULA AND IN THE VICINITY WOULD HAVE BEEN « SEEN » BY EYE WITNESSES AT THE TIME THE CRIMES WERE COMMITTED
THE JEEP OF THE McCALLUM CAMP (15)
As a result of these various testimonies, as to the approximate date where this jeep might have been seen, as to the vague and contradictory descriptions of the jeep, as to the age of its occupants and to their clothes, it appears more probably that the jeep that was seen on this shanty road might have been that of Dr. Burkett. In addition, it is certain that none of the preceding witnesses has paid much attention to this jeep, has never talked about it to whomever before several years had passed, except for Gérard Quirion who might have talked about it with Régis Quirion, his cousin, around the year 1957, that no one has made a comparison between this jeep and that Coffin might have seen, with the exception of Gérald Quirion, these witnesses have not talked about it among themselves and all the words or information Mr. Hébert puts in their mouth in his book, always to the exception of Régis and Gérald Quirion, are sheer fancy on the part of the author.
There are however various statements made by Régis Quirion whose proof was made before this Commission and his deafening testimony.
In addition to the brief information that he gave in his affidavit of the 30th of November 1955, this witness gave other information to Mr. Henri Doyon, when the latter examined him in the fall of 1963, a lengthy affidavit in which he pretended describing the circumstances in which he gave his affidavit of 1955 and in which he denied the accuracy of the information mentioned by him in his first affidavit as well as the accuracy of the information reported by Mr. Henri Doyon and as they were written by Mr. Jacques Hébert, in his book. Examined at length, re-examined and cross-examined in the course of this enquiry, Régis Quirion reiterated in substance the accusations and denials contained in his affidavit of the fall 1963, given to the Provincial Police, but denied also that the information that he had given to the Police was faithfully transcribed in his affidavit. He was caught red-handed in his attempt to mislead this Commission as to his knowledge of the English language; on several times, he affirmed categorically not knowing English and later on declared that he could understand a little bit and a little later he stated that he could understand the English spoken in Gaspé, but that he was unable to understand the English of the occupant of the jeep who asked information from him and his companion; finally, thanks to the skill of the legal advisor to the Commission, he was examined exclusively for several minutes in the English language.
From all these various statements and, above all, from his testimony before the Commission, it clearly comes out, for the undersigned, that this witness, like the witness Thompson, about whom, I shall speak hereafter, does not believe in the obligation of telling the truth even under oath. It is not to say that he lies continually and that all he says is untrue. Therefore, we have to sort out what may be true from what may not be true. In substance, here are the information and explanations that this witness has given the Commission :
Either at the end of May or at the beginning of the month of June 1953, he also has seen the jeep about which the preceding witnesses spoke of.
He denies categorically that the two passengers who occupied the jeep (but not three men as he has mentioned in his affidavit of the 30th of November 1955) have asked if there were many bears in this part of the forest and had asked if the Lindseys were in the surroundings.
He affirms that this jeep has not met a truck in which he was with his cousin Rosario (and not Rehel as the latter has affirmed), but was following his truck when he had to stop to put on chains.
He thinks it was a red jeep with a top in brown canvas and with on the sides little mica windows, the sides being also with canvas.
This jeep had American licence plates, but ignores from what state.
The occupants of the jeep were more than twenty years old; they were men, not kids; they were people about my age (he was himself 30 years old) and one of the two was older than the other.
He does not remember what clothes they wore.
He did not see McCallum having drink with the occupants.
When Doyon (lawyer or judge, he does not know) questioned him and showed him a series of photos and indicated to him that it was in connection with a man named Thompson, he perhaps said that there was a resemblance striking enough between the portrait that was shown him and one of the foreigners in the jeep; however, when a series of photos were shown him on which Thompson appears, he does not recognize him and affirms that the fellow whom he saw in the jeep does not appear on these photos.
He denies having described to Mr. Doyon, during this interview, the clothes of the occupants of the jeep, as opposed to what Jacques Hébert says at page 166 of his book that Quirion would have declared that the Americans wore olive khaki shirts and pants and that they wore small leather boots.
He also denies having mentioned to Mr. Doyon the age of the occupants of the jeep, he states that it is inaccurate to report that he spoke of the Indian Thompson to Doyon and having told him that he went to the Gaspé post office to see in a newspaper where he could have seen a photo of Thompson.
He denies having told Mr. Doyon that the fellow who looked like Thompson spoke English with a funny accent.
It is particularly on the circumstances that brought him to sign his affidavit of the 30th of November 1955 that his testimony is of a certain interest.
Here is in substance how he describes these circumstances.
Before November 1955, the only person with whom he ever spoke of this jeep was his cousin Rosario; a few days before the 30th of November 1955, during a conversation with one of his fellow workers, at the camp where he was working for a new employer, he engaged into a conversation in the English language with this fellow worker, a man named Miller, about the Coffin affair. He would then have told Miller, with whom he was having a drink at that moment, about the jeep he had seen in May or June 1953 along the Mississippi river. A few days later, Jack Eagle, as we know, who Coffin’s brother-in-law, would have picked him up at the camp and told him that he had to testify in the Coffin affair, failing which the police would come and arrest him
On the advice of this foreman, he went to Gaspé with Eagle. In the course of the evening, Eagle would have offered him a certain number of drinks of alcoholic liquors and, before leaving him, would have left him with several bottles of beer that he, Quirion, would have drunk until around four o’clock in the morning. The following day, Eagle would have picked him up, and would have brought him breakfast, and would have given him a double gin and would have taken him to the office of Mtre Dussault, lawyer at Gaspé and a partner of Mtre Terence Pidgeon who was the correspondent at Gaspé of Mtre Francois Gravel.
Quirion declares that he does not remember at all what he might have told Mtre Dussault and not even having signed his affidavit.
What credibility may be given to this part of Régis Quirion’s testimony?
John Eagle, whose testimony is for the least questionable because of his testimonies more or less contradictory with regard to having loaned his rifle to Wilbert Coffin, of his subsequent conversations with Wilbert Coffin and of the place where he might have seen his rifle before its disappearance, denied before this Commission never having met Régis Quirion before the preceding week and denied categorically all that Quirion said before this Commission on his departure from the camp where he was working, his stay at the hotel and his visit with Jack Eagle to the office of Mtre Dussault. He also denied having ever seen the affidavit of the 30th of 1955.
Mtre Dussault was less categorical than was Jack Eagle.
He stated that Mtre Gravel had telephoned Mtre Pidgeon, his partner, to inform him that certain people would come to the office to sign statements before the justice of the peace, that on the morning Régis Quirion arrived at the office, as Mtre Pidgeon was occupied, it is he who greeted him and that he stated: “Mtre Gravel telephoned Mr. Pidgeon to tell him that you had a sworn statement to make. What do you have to say?” Quirion would have then told him what he had to say. Mtre Dussault called her secretary, dictated to her exactly what appears in his statement of the 30th of November, had it typed, read it to Quirion and told him, in giving it to him: “Go now to Mr. John Joseph to be sworn in.”
Mtre Dussault does not remember if Quirion was alone or accompanied; he declares not being able to affirm under oath if Quirion’s statement was prepared following information given solely by Quirion or solely by another person or jointly by Quirion and another person.
He admits that it is possible that his partner, Mtre Pidgeon, might have, himself, a few notes prepared.
His attention being drawn by the Commissioner to the importance of this part of the statement, when mention is made of the Lindseys, Mtre Dussault stated, frankly, that he does not recall if he had a rough copy or something to draft the statement or if it is the individual in question « Régis Quirion who had told him : « Well at that date, I have seen bears or I have seen Americans who were hunting bears, and who have inquired about the Lindseys », that he does not remember at all.
At the end of his testimony, he stated that it is most likely that he had in his possession a draft statement.
As to Mtre Terence Pidgeon, his testimony was absolutely negative.
He does not remember having received specific instructions from Mtre Gravel as to the taking of Régis Quirion’s statement.
He has no recollection of Quirion’s visit in his office for signing the affidavit of the 30th of November 1955.
He does not remember that Mr. Eagle was present at the office of Mr. Joseph when the latter sworn the statement, as had pretended Quirion in his statement to the police.
What does come out from all this?
The following facts are certain :
Like all his fellow workers, Régis Quirion has never made a statement to anyone about the jeep that he and his companions had seen along the Mississippi river before the night where he drank with one of his fellow workers, Dave Miller, a few days before the 30th of November 1955.
It was therefore Dave Miller who was the first confident of Régis Quirion. Unfortunately, that Dave Miller is dead and obviously cannot be heard.
There is no reason to assume that it was on his own initiative that Quirion, who had never paid much attention to the jeep that he had seen, decided to go to Mtre Dussault to sign the affidavit that we know of. For three months people called to sign statements and affidavits regarding facts that, directly or indirectly, had caught the attention of justices of the Québec Appeal Court, were directed to the office of Mtre Pidgeon or to the justice of the peace Joseph namely, Wilson MacGregor, John Hackett and those who pretended having made payments to Wilbert Coffin, while other people were directed to either Mtre Gravel’s office or Mtre Maloney’s office or to a Montreal legal firm.
It is also certain that it is not Régis Quirion who sent his statement of November 1955 to the Minister of Justice.
In addition, we must consider Mtre Dussault’s admissions that his partner, Mtre Pidgeon, had instructions from Mtre Gravel to receive statements from certain witnesses in connection with the Coffin affair and the vague souvenir that has Mtre Dussault that he might had drafted Quirion’s affidavit on the basis of information that was previously communicated to him.
From the foregoing, a certainty more than reasonable comes out from the statement that Quirion signed, that it was not entirely of his own vintage and, was on the whole, influenced by third parties who had interest in receiving it.
Considered from this angle, the information communicated by Quirion to this Commission, as to the circumstances in which he was called to sign a sworn statement acquires an important degree of likeliness and truthfulness.
In addition, if we take into account that the ESSENTIAL AFFIRMATION CONTAINED IN THIS SWORN STATEMENT RESTS ON THE PRETENDED MENTION OF THE NAME OF THE LINDSEYS by one of the occupants of the jeep, and, on the affirmation by all the other witnesses, including Rosario Quirion and Rehel, that this name was not mentioned by the occupants of the jeep, and if we remember, particularly, the little credibility that, on the whole, we may give to Régis Quirion, neither morally, nor intellectually, nor juridically, is it not possible to give Régis Quirion’s sworn statement of the 30th of November 1953 whatsoever probative value.
Therefore, are we in the presence of a proof that, on the whole, tends to establish that the jeep seen on the shores of the Mississippi was no other than that of Dr. Burkett.
It is for the above mentioned reasons that I suggest to you this conclusion.
Let us recall, for memory, the many contradictions between what the witnesses we heard had to say and the information that Mr. Hébert put in their mouth, as having been communicated either to himself or to his « investigators ». (À SUIVRE)
NEXT WEEK WE SHALL READ THE GENERAL CONCLUSIONS ON THE JEEPS .AND THE LIST DRAWN UP BY THE BROSSARD COMMISSION OF ALL THE ERRORS AND INACCURACIES COMMITTED BY JACQUES HÉBERT.