The Honourable Senator Peter Harder, Government Representative in the Senate
June 15, 2017
Hon. Dennis Glen Patterson: Honourable senators, my question to the Government Representative is about Joannes Rivoire. He was a missionary posted to various communities in Nunavut from 1960-64 and again from 1975-93. He returned to his native France in 1993. In 1998, a Canada-wide warrant for his arrest was issued. He faces three different charges from three different complainants: one for indecent assault and two counts of sexual intercourse involving females under the age of 14 in Rankin Inlet and Repulse Bay. Not having its own territorial attorney general, Nunavut has to rely on the Federal Public Prosecution Service of Canada. It is this body that could initiate an extradition order on behalf of the victims.
I wrote on April 3, 2017, to Minister Wilson-Raybould, urging Canada to push for the extradition of Father Rivoire. He took a position of trust in the communities and misused it in the most egregious manner. He should be tried for his crimes in order to provide closure to the complaints and their families. It is also believed this trial will bring to light other complainants who did not feel comfortable coming forward.
I can assure you there is a great deal of public concern about this case in Nunavut. Will the Minister of Justice, in the spirit of justice and reconciliation, direct the International Assistance Group to begin the formal process required to ask for Mr. Rivoire’s speedy extradition to Canada?
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I thank the honourable senator for bringing this case to my attention and the attention of the Senate. Extradition requests are confidential state-to-state communications. It would not be appropriate for me to confirm or deny the existence of an extradition request in this matter.
I can, however, indicate that Canada and France are party to an extradition treaty, and I will, of course, bring your representation to the attention of the minister.
(Response to question raised by the Honourable Dennis Glen Patterson on June 15, 2017)
Department of Justice
Canada and France are parties to a bilateral extradition treaty. As extradition requests are confidential state-to-state communications, the Minister of Justice can neither confirm nor deny the existence of an extradition request in this matter. Where an extradition request is made to a foreign state, such as France, it is for foreign authorities to decide whether or not to grant extradition pursuant to their law.
The Extradition Act provides that the Minister of Justice is responsible for making extradition requests to a foreign state but only at the behest of a prosecution or corrections authority in Canada (competent authority). In this case, the competent authority is the Public Prosecution Service of Canada (PPSC). Like other prosecutorial authorities in Canada, the PPSC exercises its functions independently, of the Minister and Justice Canada, without interference. As a result, the Minister of Justice is not able to direct any Justice Canada officials to initiate formal extradition processes without an originating request from a competent authority.