Sunday, February 22, 2015

Lawyer questions CFIA integrity

Lawyer Shawn Buckley has thrown the cat among the pigeons in a letter to Crown Attorney Damien Frost who is handling the prosecution of Michael Schmidt and Linda (Montana) Jones Kenney for taking sheep under scrapie quarantine from the farm of Montana Jones.

He complains of a Canadian Food Inspection Agency coverup and failure to disclose information vital to the defence he is trying to establish.

And he accuses the CFIA and Frost of trying to “railroad” his clients.

He now has much more information than when the trial began earlier this month.

But it has come about two years after he requested the information.

For example, he got 101 pages on the morning of a trial day Feb. 18.

His office in British Columbia got 177 pages at 9 p.m. Feb. 18, and he didn’t see this package until a copy was handed to him the morning of Feb. 19.

A further 104 pages was disclosed Feb. 20.

Buckley now also has a report prepared by CFIA investigator Mark Murdoch that raises a number of questions about the way the CFIA handled the case.

There appears to be a great deal of uncertainty about the origins of the sheep that tested positive for scrapie in Alberta.

The CFIA says the sheep came from the flock of Shropshires at the farm of Montana Jones in Ontario.

But the CFIA documents indicate that it might have been a ram imported from the United States.

Buckley says the CFIA is unable to document the taking and handling of the samples that were tested for DNA. Nor is it providing the name of the person or people who took the sample and sent it for testing, so he isn’t able to cross-examine on that issue.

Buckley says Crown Attorney Frost needs to demonstrate two things : that the sheep with scrapie came from the flock owned by Montana Jones and that it was infected before, not after, it arrived in the flock in Alberta.

One example of questions Buckley raises is that the CFIA ended up ordering three sets of DNA testing to establish scrapie, but does not document the trail the sample took to finally getting tested in California.

It clearly went to a lab in Saskatchewan that refused to do the test, but it’s not clear whether it went from Saskatchewan to a lab in California that did the third test, or if it went from Saskatchewan to a CFIA office and then to California, nor is it clear that it was a sample drawn from the sheep Jones sold the shepherd in Alberta.