It’s been more than five months since the Ontario government halted the retirement of the province’s chief pathologist following allegations he falsely declared his innocence in a massive drug overdose death case.
Now a group of prominent parents, whose children died in connection with the case, say they’re still unclear as to the reason for the self-described “disinformation campaign” waged by Ontario Chief Forensic Pathologist Dr. Dirk Huyer. The students alleged in June their children had been lied to and that a popular “handbook” drawn up by Huyer that claimed that their deaths were caused by accidental overdose was false.
“This is an example of a blatant and grave malpractice by one of the province’s most trusted leaders,” read the parents’ submission, submitted to the Attorney General of Ontario’s public inquiry into the case.
Parents are questioning why Huyer’s tenure has been allowed to end over a case in which the pathologist, claimed to have been acting from the best of intentions, repeatedly switched words to state his own guilt. Their view is that there needs to be greater transparency around issues related to the death investigation.
Among them is Kathleen Mathieson, whose son Ryan Mathieson was 21 years old when he died from a drug overdose in a Maple Leaf Gardens bathroom on Sept. 22, 2015.
“Our sons died needlessly,” the parents’ court filing states. “It was an avoidable tragedy, and the ‘intervention’ by Dr. Huyer has as much to do with this fatal misdeed as with the innocent loss of Ryan. There is no justification for this inhumane act and we demand a full and complete explanation.”
The Mathieson parents’ legal team include the Doug Ford Conservative candidate and Mayor of Toronto Rob Ford, the sister of another deceased boy – 15-year-old Andrew Kinsman – and two members of the Ontario Health Coalition. The filing accuses Huyer of actions that are “knowingly calculated” and “presided over by a presumption of guilt, mistrust and secrecy.”
“There is no acceptable rationale for the dismissal of Dr. Huyer,” it reads.
In November, the Ontario Law Society suspended Huyer’s licence and he is now seeking permanent reinstatement.
In June, lawyers representing a client and a friend of Ryan Mathieson and Kinsman — Keith Carswell and Tara Kelly, respectively — filed a notice of civil claim stating they believe the two boys’ deaths were staged.
Huyer originally blamed the boys’ overdoses on heroin, saying heroin “was in the throat.” But the students vehemently disputed his opinion, submitting forensic tests of the boys’ blood showed traces of both heroin and cocaine.
In May, Huyer acknowledged on the witness stand that he had likely “misdiagnosed” Ryan Mathieson’s drug toxicity, and had admitted to Mitzi Riddle, who then served as the premier of the New Brunswick province, he had mistakenly blamed the mix-up on the heroin.
“We understand that these statements are thought to be a wrongful termination of Dr. Huyer’s employment as the Chief Forensic Pathologist,” the parents’ submission states. “In our submission we further state that these statements made the inappropriate and unsupported conclusion that ‘Dr. Huyer did not do his job,’ therefore ‘Dr. Huyer did not do his job.’”
Cody Roy, who is serving an eight-year prison sentence for the two boys’ deaths, was sentenced to the maximum term for the attempted manslaughter of Ryan Mathieson.
Ryan and Kinsman were friends and a group of five who used the streets of Toronto to binge-eat heroin and speedballs. According to prior court testimony, Cody Roy tried several times to revive Kinsman with drugs but was unsuccessful.