People from across the country saw their own daughters, nieces and granddaughters in Tina Fontaine’s young face. (Tina Fontaine/Facebook ) Raymond Cormier says he didn’t kill or sexually exploit Tina Fontaine, but admits he gave her cannabis, prompting a call from her family and a former grand chief to have him charged for trafficking an illicit substance to a minor.
When asked in an interview with CBC News if he contributed to Tina Fontaine’s drug use, Cormier responded: "Partially, and only a little bit. And it was weed."
"I wasn’t feeding Tina coke or crack or crystal meth," Cormier said in an interview conducted last spring.
Cormier, 57, was charged with second-degree murder in connection with the 15-year-old’s death, and was acquitted by a jury in February 2018. Cormier did not have to answer any questions in court.
In an interview after his acquittal, he repeatedly denied any involvement in Fontaine’s death.
"I had nothing to do, absolutely nothing to do, with the death of Tina Fontaine," Cormier said.
"I was the one who had the most convenient background — my history, the 92 convictions, in and out of jail, homeless. They handpicked me," he said. "There are people are there who might think that I got away with something. I didn’t get away with nothing."
Earlier this week, the Manitoba Advocate for Children and Youth released a 115-page report into the death of Fontaine, whose 72-pound body was pulled from Winnipeg’s Red River on Aug. 17, 2014. Her death triggered national outrage.
In preparation for that report, CBC News re-examined elements of last year’s interview with Cormier. In February 2018, Raymond Cormier was found not guilty of killing Fontaine. (Sean Brocklehurst/CBC) His comments prompted Fontaine’s family and a former grand chief to call for him to face a different criminal charge.
"I would like him to be to be charged with giving Tina drugs," said Thelma Favel, the teen’s great-aunt. "That’s what I want. He cannot get away with absolutely nothing when he did have something to do with it."
Sheila North, the former grand chief of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO), agrees.
"He should face charges for it, for supplying drugs to a minor," said North. "The danger he put Tina in, he should face some time for that." ‘Our young people and our women become vulnerable because they don’t have what they need to survive,’ said Indigenous advocate Sheila North. If charges were ever laid, former federal prosecutor Robin Parker said they would be under the law that applied in 2014 — before the Cannabis Act came into effect, which makes it a crime to give minors weed.
"It is possible that he could be prosecuted for trafficking in marijuana," said Parker, who is now a defence lawyer. It would not be easy to prove though, she said.
Parker spent more than a decade prosecuting drug cases and said trafficking can be defined as giving as well as selling. Any potential trafficking charge would be for a substance "held out," or believed to be marijuana, because there is no way of testing for it now.
"That would be for the Crown to determine whether it’s in the public interest to prosecute him or not," said Parker. "But the justifiable outrage? I feel it too."
If a suspect could potentially be charged with multiple counts, Parker said it is a common prosecutorial strategy to go for the biggest charge, like second-degree murder, when moving forward with a trial.At the time of Fontaine’s death in 2014, giving cannabis to a minor was an aggravating factor, and under current law can carry a 14-year sentence. Lawyer Robin Parker says while theoretically possible, proving Cormier trafficked […]
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