Shannon Kari, National Post
TORONTO — During a five-day period in February 2007, Jean Guy Tremblay pretended he wanted to buy a car.
He would continually follow a Toronto saleswoman in and out of her office. He would stand next to her as she spoke to other customers, call to see if she would be working that day and on one occasion he removed snow from cars and cleared a pathway to her office.
Alarmed, the woman used Google to find out more about the man. The first thing that came up were his attempts in 1988 to get the Supreme Court of Canada to prevent his girlfriend, Chantal Daigle, from having an abortion.
In the past two decades, he has repeatedly continued a pattern of possessive behaviour toward women. He has been convicted of assaults, threats, harassment and unlawful confinement. The victims have ranged from girlfriends, female roommates and even a landlady, who was pushed down the stairs in a dispute over rent.
On Friday, as a result of a criminal harassment conviction that stems from the events at that Toronto car dealership, the 45-year-old man will attend a hearing that will determine whether he spends the rest of his life in prison.
Final arguments will be heard in Ontario Superior Court in a dangerous offender hearing initiated by the Crown against Tremblay. His long history, though, raises unusual questions for this type of hearing.
Tremblay’s behaviour has followed a pattern. He would routinely befriend women with false stories, such as being down on his luck after formerly playing in the NHL. He had a "repertoire of tragic and grandiose stories," stated one pre-sentence court document.
His record is replete with acts of violence and threats against women. At the same time, he has never been accused of a sexual offence and there are no convictions for crimes that normally lead to a dangerous offender label.
The Ontario proceeding, before Superior Court Justice Andromache Karakatsanis, is the second time the Crown has asked for Tremblay to be designated a dangerous offender. Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Scott Brooker ruled against the Crown in 2000. The judge imposed a 66-month prison sentence for violent and controlling acts against a former girlfriend and female roommate.
Tremblay was also found to be a "long-term offender" and subjected to a 10-year supervision order, which is a form of probation. It was a breach of the terms of that order that landed him back in jail in 2007.
A dangerous offender designation "subjects an offender to the most severe consequences known to our law, save for the life sentences for murder," Brooker said. While he was "a high risk to commit the same type of offences, there is no evidence the severity of his conduct will increase," the judge said.
At the hearing in Alberta nearly a decade ago, the court heard evidence from Tremblay’s mother. She said her son was a problem child and prescribed anti-depressants at age four. He was someone who would cause difficulties for his babysitters. Tremblay quit school at age 16 and was often financially supported as an adult by girlfriends and other women, the court heard.
Since the Alberta hearing, the criminal harassment charge is the only addition to his criminal record.
Crown attorneys Rita Zaied and Joanne Stuart urge Karakatsanis to look at the lifelong "pattern" of behaviour by Tremblay, in the prosecution’s arguments.
"Any suggestion that Mr. Tremblay can be treated is speculative. Any suggestion that Mr. Tremblay will ‘burn out’ is speculative," writes the Crown.
Defence lawyer Bob Richardson argued this fall during the dangerous offender proceeding that the Crown’s position is too broad and his client’s crimes do not merit this label.
"The Crown’s position is basically that Mr. Tremblay is a danger to all women and therefore we have to lock him up," Richardson said. "Does this mean he should potentially be incarcerated for the rest of his life?"