Former Canadian publisher pleads for Barbados vacation before serving sentence

TORONTO — Bob Verdun begged Ontario’s Superior Court for mercy Friday, telling a judge he’d like to spend the winter in Barbados before serving out an expected house arrest sentence in Kitchener.

The former publisher of the Elmira Independent newspaper tried to strike a deal with Justice Robert Goldstein at his sentencing hearing for his second contempt of court conviction, his latest in a string of legal troubles.

“I have been absolutely beaten down by this and I have learned, learned, learned,” Verdun said. “I accept full responsibility for my actions and I beg this court for mercy.”

The self-described “public interest crusader,” who was convicted of defaming former Clarica executive Robert Astley in 2011, has falsely accused Astley of cheating taxpayers in Waterloo’s RIM Park financing scandal.

Verdun now owes Astley, the former chair of Wilfrid Laurier University, more than $900,000 in damages and costs after a long legal battle. His first conviction for contempt of court came in October 2013, after he approached Kitchener Centre MP Stephen Woodworth to discuss RIM Park — breaking a court order not to speak about Astley.

He was convicted of the same charge a second time last month, after he continued a European vacation despite being ordered back to Kitchener to finish out his first house arrest sentence.

On Friday, Verdun asked his new sentence be delayed so he can winter in the Caribbean with his common-law wife, for health reasons. He told the court he’s her primary caregiver and she has difficulty in wintery conditions.

Astley’s lawyer Brian Radnoff was having none of it.

“You’ve heard this before, and yet, here we are again,” the lawyer said. “He’s consistently disobeyed court orders, and shown a significant level of disrespect for this court. A message must be sent.”

Verdun, 64, started his sentencing hearing by dismissing Arnold Zweig as his legal counsel, telling the court “my lawyer has abandoned me.” He represented himself for the rest of the hearing, and apologized to Justice Goldstein for his “error in judgment” for defying the court again.

Verdun said he stayed in Europe despite the court order because he had to care for his common-law wife, who has back problems. She needed therapeutic swimming sessions at a friend’s pool in France and had an osteopathic appointment in London, he said.

Last week, the judge blasted Verdun for “wilfully and intentionally” ignoring the court order to return to Canada and resume his sentence — saying he “thumbed his nose” at the justice system.

Outside court Friday, Verdun was adamant he’d done nothing wrong in the defamation suit and objected to how he’d been characterized since.

“I’ve been pilloried for something I didn’t do. Judges don’t understand me, lawyers don’t understand me,” he said, in an interview.

Verdun said everything he’d done was “always in the public interest,” whether he’s fighting for the environment, women’s rights or shareholders.

Verdun also described a $30-million plan to redevelop an abandoned hotel site in Barbados into a vacation condominium complex. He said he’s the project’s chief marketer and consultant, and if successful, it could make him a “prosperous man, for the first time in my life.”

He said he’s working with a team of people trying to drum up investment in Canada to buy the site and begin construction at the unused, 40-year-old resort — but that work is best done on the ground in Barbados.

Verdun said he intends to pay the money he owes Astley. He hasn’t filed for bankruptcy for that reason.

But Astley, who recently retired as chair of the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, is doubtful he’ll ever see a penny from the former newspaper publisher, his lawyer said.

“My client has no hope of ever getting any money from Mr. Verdun,” Radnoff said.

He strongly opposed Verdun’s request that any new sentence be delayed so he can return to Barbados, where he and his wife rent an apartment for the winter.

“We are not here to make things convenient for Mr. Verdun or impose penalties that are consistent with Mr. Verdun’s travel plans,” Radnoff said.

Verdun was ordered to stay in Ontario and leave his passport with the court office until Justice Goldstein hands down his sentence next week.

And while Radnoff is asking the judge to impose a punishment of 90 extra days of house arrest for this latest breach, the lawyer said jail time isn’t out of the question.

“There is an appropriate basis here to send Mr. Verdun to jail,” he said. “The penalty must be severe enough so Mr. Verdun and the public understand this type of behaviour will not result in light sentences.” (Waterloo Region Record)

27 Responses to Former Canadian publisher pleads for Barbados vacation before serving sentence

  1. Wendy Stewart
    Wendy Stewart December 7, 2014 at 11:33 pm

    Serve your house arrest time and get done with it.

  2. Bajan Princess Kianna Rogers
    Bajan Princess Kianna Rogers December 8, 2014 at 12:30 am

    Jayson Alleyne Shavor Brathwaite look look wat I found Bob de want to b preacher in d paper

  3. Poetry Dancer
    Poetry Dancer December 8, 2014 at 1:10 am

    Go to jail
    Go directly to jail
    Do not pass GO
    Do not collect $200

  4. Poetry Dancer
    Poetry Dancer December 8, 2014 at 1:12 am


  5. Gabriel Abed
    Gabriel Abed December 8, 2014 at 1:13 am

    I say let him come… we can’t be picky in these hard times and every dollar counts. I think he will ball out down here knowing he can’t leave his house for some time. $$ 🙂

  6. Andreas Eriksson
    Andreas Eriksson December 8, 2014 at 1:22 am

    Not wanted, not needed….

  7. Frederick Alleyne
    Frederick Alleyne December 8, 2014 at 1:38 am

    Well we may have to take that hotel project out of our projections.

  8. James Morton
    James Morton December 8, 2014 at 1:43 am

    I’d like to visit Barbados before ANYTHING, but especially jail.

  9. Lisa Bennett
    Lisa Bennett December 8, 2014 at 1:56 am

    Can’t blame the man. Barbados is a beautiful place.

  10. Latoya Willoughby-Brathwaite
    Latoya Willoughby-Brathwaite December 8, 2014 at 2:13 am

    All the criminals want to visit Barbados first…..Bim we love you. Bim everybody is proud of you.

  11. Sharon Woolley
    Sharon Woolley December 8, 2014 at 4:25 am

    Let him have a room at Dodds if he’s keen to be in Barbados !

  12. Andy Lashley
    Andy Lashley December 8, 2014 at 5:25 am

    With how things are in Barbados at the moment I say let him come!

  13. Sebastian Da Costa
    Sebastian Da Costa December 8, 2014 at 5:29 am

    He can stay where the man from Cuba was

  14. The $2 Philosopher December 8, 2014 at 6:34 am

    If I was on the Tourist Board this would be part of my Ad campaign. Barbados! Memories so good they’ll get you through hell! LOL

  15. Elsa Drayton
    Elsa Drayton December 8, 2014 at 6:53 am

    He is cheeky

  16. Sherwin Boyce
    Sherwin Boyce December 8, 2014 at 7:49 am

    This has to be one for the movies

  17. seagul December 8, 2014 at 8:01 am

    Hotel California at dodds is full—what about rikers!

  18. Annetta Paul
    Annetta Paul December 8, 2014 at 9:04 am

    I can’t blame the man for try to get to spend time in Barbados before getting locked up. Who wouldn’t want to do that, notice he didn’t say Florida, Dubai, or any of those other places. This could be a good marketing advertisement. BARBADOS, IT SO SWEET, IT’S THE PLACE YOU WANT TO VISIT BEFORE YOU GO TO PRISON. (stress the BEFORE) He’ll be serving his time with a smile on his face reminiscing about Oistins beach having fishcakes and mauby.

  19. Doria Alleyne
    Doria Alleyne December 8, 2014 at 9:35 am

    Let the man live his dream.Please let him came and see beautiful BIM.

  20. Jim Lynch December 8, 2014 at 9:42 am

    Yeah… he broke the law, then he defied the court – twice, now he thinks it would be reasonable to delay his sentencing so that he can live the way HE wants to. And we should believe the judge should go soft on him? Is this the way the world is going – treat deliberate lawbreakers softly and let them do what they want? Maybe Ol’ Charlie Manson would like a few weeks in Barbados too… imagine how much money the island could make out of that publicity! Let’s scour the world’s jails for criminals and bring them to the land of sun, sand and rum so they can make money for us. What about letting some of our own worst criminals out of Dodds for a while so they can enjoy life too – at OUR expense, of course… we got PLENTY money to throw around, right?

    Fer Chrissake, grow up and get real lives, all of you. Throw the retarded idiot’s ass in jail and make him serve his entire sentence there instead of comfortably in his cushy home.

  21. John Smith December 8, 2014 at 9:45 am

    Is he the same Bob Verdun who runs the verdun house in St. John?

  22. Averil Byer December 8, 2014 at 11:00 am

    Surprised to see someone who has been so critical about everything in Barbados, both written and spoken, for almost all the time he has lived here, and has been a nuisance to so many persons would be so keen to ‘invest’ here. Really?

  23. Cornelia Daniel
    Cornelia Daniel December 8, 2014 at 12:46 pm

    Free advertisement, I say let him come. Lol

  24. sam clarke December 8, 2014 at 1:45 pm


  25. Matthew Greaves
    Matthew Greaves December 8, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    I can blame the man for wanting to spend his last days before going to jail in beautiful Barbados

  26. Rafael Ramsay
    Rafael Ramsay December 8, 2014 at 3:33 pm

    Sooo a criminal is in charge of what I would assume is the redevelopment of Sam lords castle? Sounds about right

  27. Tony Waterman December 8, 2014 at 7:54 pm

    @Jim Lynch!!!! don’t forget what Plastic bag said in his Song “”Let Home Bells ring first””s
    Your Quote:-“””Fer Chrissake, grow up and get real lives, all of you. Throw the retarded idiot’s ass in jail and make him serve his entire sentence there instead of comfortably in his cushy home.””
    so my Dear SIR, the COURTS in BARBADOS RULED as far as i can Remember TWICE “”Two TIMES”” Against the GOVERNMENT of Barbados in the CLICO CASE, and FOR AL BARRACK, and The COURTS HAVE BEEN IGNORED BY THIS GOVERNMENT, “””SO””” WHO ARE WE GOING TO SEND TO DODDS FOR THAT, THE PM, THE A/GEN.who who LIKE YOU HAVE SAID ABOVE “”he broke the law, then he defied the court”” THEY DID ALSO.


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