Peter Nygård

A Manitoba judge ruled in favor of a consortium of Canadian and international media asking for permission to broadcast a hearing on July 8 during which the media organizations hope to gain approval to broadcast Peter Nygard’s extradition hearing, slated for this fall.

At the request of U.S. officials under the countries’ extradition treaty, Canadian police arrested the apparel magnate in December. Nygard has been charged with sex trafficking, racketeering and other crimes. Dozens of women have alleged that Nygard committed varying degrees of criminal behavior over the past few decades.

The group has also filed an application to broadcast Nygard’s extradition hearing, which is currently scheduled for Nov. 15. During a video conference, Chief Justice Glenn Joyal of the Court of the Queen’s Bench of Manitoba heard submissions from both sides Wednesday on the request to broadcast the July hearing.

Separately, earlier this month Nygard’s legal team filed an application for the Supreme Court of Canada to grant permission to appeal the March 26 decision by the Manitoba Court of Appeal that denied him bail.

In what seemed like a legal riddle, Wednesday’s court session was to address the media’s application to broadcast the application to broadcast Nygard’s extradition hearing. The media applicants sought permission to use electronic devices capable of transmitting audio and video feeds of the hearing of the media applicants’ motion to broadcast the extradition hearing. “To be clear, this is an application to broadcast the arguments that will be made in July to determine whether or not the actual extradition hearing should be broadcast,” said Joylan, adding that livestreaming and sharing footage on the internet was also sought.

There has been a good deal of media interest in the case. Nygard amassed millions through his “fast-to-market” affordable sportswear company and previously employed 1,450 people. The Finnish-born apparel executive stepped down from Nygard Industries in February 2020 and his company was placed in receivership last year. Earlier this year Nygard became the subject of the Discovery+ series titled “Unseamly: The Investigation of Peter Nygard” and the Canadian Broadcast Corp. introduced a podcast about Nygard called “Evil By Design.”

The government of Canada opposed broadcasting the hearing and Nygard’s team took no position. Per the Manitoba courts’ electronic devices policy, the use of electronic devices or video cameras is subject to the discretion or order of the presiding judge

In rendering his decision, Joylan questioned whether the onus respecting an application of this sort rests with the respondents or with the media applicants. He said he assumed without deciding the matter that the onus rests on the applicants, but he was not suggesting that was the court’s determination. That will be something for him to revisit, or to grapple with in July when it comes to the question of whether the November hearing will be broadcast.

The judge said there is no risk in administering justice if the hearing in July is broadcast. There are also “compelling reasons for the public” to have access to the July hearing to the whys of the deliberations, he said.

Further protocols will be considered in July about how that potential broadcast may play out, the chief justice said.

The media’s lawyer offered to draft a suggested protocol and to share it with all of the parties to get counsel input and then share that with the Manitoba Court spokeswoman so there would be agreement on how the use of technologies should be upheld. Joylan and the legal teams agreed to reconvene next month to discuss more specifics.

Nygard awaits his extradition hearing at the Headingley Correctional Centre. Regarding Nygard’s request for leave to appeal the bail hearing, his lawyers reportedly challenged how much weight the court should put on unproven allegations when determining bail and whether the court should make a bail decision based on the strength of the crown’s case in bail court or the strength of the state’s case at trial.