Nipawin man found not guilty of making threats against Trudeau

NIPAWIN — David Petersen of Nipawin was found not guilty of uttering threats against the Prime Minister and the Parliament buildings during a phone call.

The phone call in question took place with a Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) employee over the phone on Feb. 12. He was arrested by the RCMP and charged with uttering threats on Feb. 27. Petersen pled not guilty in court on April 24.

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In Nipawin Provincial Court on Sept. 4, Crown prosecutor Lori O’Connor began her case with testimony from Paul Sveinson, who was the CRA employee talking to Petersen over the phone on Feb. 12. Sveinson appeared via a video link from Winnipeg. She also presented the testimonies of three RCMP officers to the court, as well as a video of the testimony Petersen gave to the RCMP after he was arrested.

On Sept. 10, Petersen testified before the court, then Judge Hugh Harradence handed down his decision.

In his testimony, Petersen stated that he holds a high value of human life and would not wish death upon the Prime Minister or harm to the Parliament.

“I have observed Mr. Petersen as he has represented himself throughout these proceedings, but I restrict my assessment of his evidence to his actual testimony,” Harradence said. “In argument he said the conversation with Mr. Sveinson on Feb. 12 was a ‘foolish conversation’. Specifically, considering his evidence in the context with all of the evidence, I agree with that comment. It is my observation that Mr. Petersen has a tendency to say foolish or flippant things even when he’s under a great amount of stress.”

Harradence used as an example that Petersen said he had a Grade 2 education under oath while testifying.

“An example for me is when I asked what level of education he had, he said a ‘Grade 2’. That’s not true. I’m quite frankly not sure if Mr. Petersen enjoys the stage and enjoys the attention he gets by saying foolish things, or whether this is a combination of nerves and stress in the situation, both on the call on Feb. 12 and when he gave his evidence.”

Harradence said that he has to judge by presumption of innocence, and guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Relating to the charge of threatening the Prime Minister, Harradence said he had concerns about the call in question not being recorded.

“I have a reasonable doubt whether the accused, Mr. Petersen, intended to intimidate or that those words be taken seriously,” Harradence said. “The accused on Feb. 12, during the telephone conversation was clearly under pressure and I suspect that the words used were in reaction to that pressure and were used without much thought or intention.”

Relating to the charge of threats against Parliament, Harradence said he also had doubts.

“I have a doubt whether the words spoken would constitute a threat. I accept that the accused likely said something along the lines, ‘I don’t want to be the guy that blows up Parliament.’”

After the trial, Petersen said that he was unfeeling in response to the verdict.

“It would have been way easier to serve 12 months’ probation and not make any phone calls to the Prime Minister or out of the province,” Petersen said. “To have unfairly said I was guilty seven months ago I would have been three-quarters of the way through this already and that would have been easy and no sweat.”

His wife, Shanon Petersen, said it was her and the rest of his family which convinced him to plead “not guilty”.

Petersen chose to represent himself without a lawyer.

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