Peter Nygard’s name and image have been plastered all over Winnipeg for many years. Finally, after years of alleged abuse of women, he is facing criminal charges in both Canada and the USA. He is currently behind bars at Headingley Correctional Centre, just outside the city.
I have given interviews on Mr. Nygard’s situation, from an immigration perspective. I have represented clients on extradition matters related to the USA and Ukraine. These cases are rarely straight-forward. I attribute much of my knowledge to my International Criminal Law profession Elaine Krivel who authored “A Practical Guide to Canadian Extradition” and who has represented the Canadian government on many of these matters. As I recall, I actually got the top mark in that class… many years ago.
Currently, Mr. Nygard is only facing a criminal trial in Manitoba. To date, the American authorities have not submitted the extradition request to Canada. As I stated to CBC News, the prosecutors in the case are likely considering the relevant Statues of Limitations.
At the bail hearing on 21 JAN 2021, Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Shawn Greenberg denied Mr. Nygard’s lawyers request to be released; however, he granted their request to put forth additional arguments on 28 JAN 2021. As I stated to CBC News:
Alastair Clarke, a Winnipeg immigration lawyer who has been following the case, says that while the issue of COVID-19 in jail is a legitimate concern, Nygard shouldn’t get special treatment.
“Not only do we need justice in this type of case, but we also need the perception of justice. And I don’t think Canadians would be very happy if an individual with deep pockets and got special treatment, and I don’t think people who are wealthy should get special treatment,” he said.
“He is subject to the law just like anyone else.”
We will continue to follow these criminal proceedings. We will also pay attention to potential actions by American prosecutors who may seek a concurrent trial, depending on the relevant Statue of Limitation period.
The importance of the perception of justice cannot be overstated. We are talking about the cornerstone principles of the legal system: fairness, equality, and arbitrariness. We live in a time of reconciliation and atoning for past injustice. These are principles that have been under attack for the past 4 years. In the USA, it is not clear to me the justice system is based on fairness. It is not clear to me that black Americans are treated the same as white Americans. And this is a problem that could easily manifest in Canada.
On the other side, it is equally important that Mr Nygard is not scapegoated for his behaviour. He may represent the vile and antiquated male attitudes of women as commodities to be used for their own pleasure, regardless of the law. He may have committed heinous acts to coerce young women to do his bidding. If that is borne out by the evidence, he should be punished according to the law. As anyone else would be punished for the same actions.