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The Ottawa Police Service has hired local law firm Perley-Robertson, Hill & McDougall to assist its discreditable conduct case against detective Helen Grus. On Monday, day 15 of Grus’ disciplinary tribunal, it was learned that firm partners Jessica Barrow and Lynda Bordeleau – former OPS chief Charles Bordeleau’s wife – have joined the prosecution.

They were retained by OPS after Grus’ defence team of Bath-Sheba van den Berg and Blair Ector filed a motion to have police’s lead counsel, Vanessa Stewart, tossed from the case for professional misconduct. During cross-examination of a defence witness last January, Stewart compared Grus’ calm demeanour to that of serial rapist and double murderer Russell Williams.

Other aspects of the motion included Stewart’s perceived conflict of interest with a prosecution witness who is her sister-in-law, and what the defence felt was a recalcitrant attitude towards negotiating Grus’ use of police documents in her defence.

Grus was charged with discreditable conduct on July 26, 2022 under Ontario’s Police Services Act, relating to what police allege was her “self-initiated and unauthorized project” involving her probe of increasing Sudden Infant Deaths and a possible link to COVID vaccines.

After more than a fortnight of hearing days, the most egregious aspect of Grus’ purported misconduct is telephoning one father of a SIDS victim to inquire about the vaccine status of the mother–this at a time when Ontario residents still had to show their vaccine passport to get a haircut or a restaurant meal.

According to Grus’ compelled statement, played on the opening day of the disciplinary tribunal, there were six SIDS cases in 2021, which she perceived as a two- or threefold increase compared to a typical year. At the time, she was a senior detective in OPS’ child abuse unit and part of her job included investigating sudden deaths of children five-and-under.

Though the Mar. 25 hearing day was intended to argue the motion to boot Stewart from the case, van den Berg offered to withdraw it without prejudice (allowing Grus’ defence to revisit the issue in future if need be), which tribunal adjudicator Chris Renwick allowed.

“We welcome the presence of Ms. Barrow and Ms. Bordeleau on this case,” van den Berg told the tribunal. “We consider the change in circumstances to be a form of relief that mitigates some of the concerns we raised… we are hopeful.”

Barrow responded that the allegations against Stewart were “very serious…(and) harmful to her reputation” and that OPS hired her and Bordeleau to handle arguments against Stewart’s removal, but that she would continue to manage the case.

“(Our involvement) shouldn’t be taken as any kind of concession or relief.”   

That exchange aside, the parties’ lawyers have been communicating and will continue to negotiate a deal with respect to allowing Grus use of OPS documents. Renwick is giving them until mid-April to reach an agreement.

“There has to be some parameters by a responding officer taking OPS documents for their defence,” Renwick noted. “Many of these documents cannot be admitted without redaction for a whole list of reasons.”

Proceedings wrapped on an unusually collegial note compared to the tumultuous and combative hearing days previously. However momentary unrest did erupt just prior the day’s start, after Ottawa police prevented dozens of Grus supporters from entering proceedings at the Stittsville, Ont. detachment, claiming fire code concerns. They also threatened to tow would-be spectators’ vehicles from the parking lot.

These decrees were met with jeers from those packed into the detachment lobby. Inside the boardroom, an elderly gentleman took things further and was ejected by plainclothes cops after menacing tribunal adjudicator Chris Renwick with a leaflet and accused him of breaking the Nuremberg Code.

“I am prepared to clear the room,” Renwick warned after the aggressive interruption.

Attendance has been steady throughout Grus’ disciplinary tribunal but Monday’s one-day session attracted the largest number of Grus supporters since her misconduct hearings began last August. This was the first occasion people were turned away.   

Van den Berg called this scenario a potential breach of the open court principle, “oppressive for (those) who want to attend.” She said it would likely create similar issues when Grus testifies this spring. Again she suggested online simulcasting, as was done during the pre-trial case days, or rescheduling the next five-day session beginning May 27 at a larger venue with more parking, options that Renwick has to date rejected. 

“I very much recognize that this venue did not meet the public expectations,” Renwick said before adjourning for the day.

“I will do everything I can, working with OPS to see if we can resolve these issues.”


  • Jason Unrau

    Jason is based in Ottawa. He is a former Parliamentary Press Gallery reporter. He enjoys public interest journalism.