How the Law Society of Ontario Sent an Innocent Man to Prison to Save Three Corrupt Lawyers

Ontario Solitary Confinement Prison Cell

The client most lawyers fear – and won’t represent at any price

by Donald Best (First published 2016)

There is a class of self-represented litigants that the legal profession does not talk about or even acknowledge, at least publicly. These are the people who are ready and willing to pay a lawyer, but are forced to represent themselves because the vast majority of lawyers refuse to litigate cases involving a claim of professional misconduct against another member of the Bar.

In the past year I have spoken with dozens of such individuals. I am not a lawyer, but they appear to have good civil claims against lawyers for unethical or even unlawful conduct – apparently supported by strong evidence and backed by case law. Yet these Canadians are unable to find legal representation at any price.

Some of these victims choose to self-represent, while others abandon any thoughts of seeking justice. Increasingly, self-represented litigants are assisted behind the scenes with legal research and document preparation by lawyers who are sympathetic, but fear backlash and opprobrium from the profession if they take the case themselves.

Corrupt lawyers Sebastien Kwidzinski, Gerald Ranking & Lorne Silver lied to the courts.

The perils of challenging a lawyer in court

I approached over one hundred lawyers to petition the court to overturn my conviction for contempt. This conviction resulted from a private prosecution that was led by two senior lawyers from large Bay Street firms. All refused to take my case, even as they acknowledged its validity and the strength of the evidence against the Bay Street lawyers.

In brief: I had been convicted of contempt of court in a civil matter while out of the country, and sentenced to three months in prison. My conviction in absentia was based upon the written and oral testimony of two Toronto lawyers who swore that, during a conference call with them, I had confirmed that I had received a copy of a certain court order.

Their sworn evidence also assured the court that they had served the order upon me in Ontario via courier. (The courier company however, stated that they had never received the court order from the lawyers, and no shipping documents, signature receipt, or tracking number have ever been produced by the lawyers). An affidavit by their “private investigator” provided an expert opinion that I was deliberately avoiding service – because I use a commercial mailbox as my address.

In fact, I had not received the court order, and stated this many times clearly during the conference call (as a forensically certified recording proved). Instead I asked, many times, for the lawyers to please send me a copy.

Despite this, I was held in contempt based on the lawyers’ assertion that I had received the court order and confirmed that receipt to them during the call.

Looking for representation

I returned to Canada and hoped to put the recording of the conference call and other evidence before the court. I knew that I would face prison time for contempt if I were unsuccessful.

So I searched for a lawyer to represent me.

Many of the young lawyers I approached were sympathetic and forthright, even admitting that they were ashamed to have to turn me down. They explained that they dared not take my case because they feared the professional and social sanctions that would certainly result. Some cited conflicts of interest involving past colleagues and law firms, while others explained that they regularly receive work from the large Bay Street firms, and could not afford to jeopardize that source of business.

A surprising number of lawyers told me that it was their firm’s policy not to litigate against lawyers, or to bring motions or evidence that would harm the careers of other lawyers.

“Yes, Mr. Best, the lawyers lied to the judge to convict you, but our firm simply does not handle this type of case.”

When I explained all of the above to Ontario’s Law Society of Upper Canada and asked for assistance in finding a lawyer willing to represent me, I received a form letter referring me to the list of lawyers on the Law Society’s website {the Lawyers Referral Service).

Trying to defend myself

Since no lawyer would represent me at any price, I was forced to represent myself.

The judge {the same judge who presided over the original hearing) would not listen to the conference call recording or consider any other fresh evidence that proved that I had never received the court order, and that for the lawyers to claim otherwise was perjury. The judge also refused me permission to cross-examine the lawyers and the “private investigator” all of whom provided testimony the court relied upon to convict and send me to prison.

The judge sent me to prison.

It was while I was in prison that I finally found and retained a lawyer willing to appeal my conviction.

Mv appeal: finally represented by a lawyer

Principled Lawyer Paul Slansky Represented Donald Best

I shall never forget this moment.

When my lawyer introduced himself at the appeal hearing, opposing counsel refused to shake his hand, saying that he would not shake the hand of a lawyer who filed a motion stating that a colleague had deceived the court. And so the social and professional sanctions began: against the one lawyer I found with the courage and integrity to act on his sense of duty.

I was eventually forced to abandon my appeal because of punitive costs (that I could not pay) awarded against me earlier, and returned to prison to serve the rest of my sentence {which, as a former police officer, I served in solitary confinement). No court ever heard my certified voice recordings of the phone call with the lawyers. I was never allowed to cross-examine the lawyers and other witnesses upon whose testimony I was convicted and sent to prison.

My lawyer believes that everyone deserves Access to Justice and fair legal representation – but for over one hundred other Ontario lawyers, Access to Justice apparently ends if a litigant has evidence of misconduct by a fellow member of the Bar.

Donald Best is an Access to Justice & Anti-corruption advocate. A former Toronto Police Sergeant (Detective), he worked on deep-cover investigations against organized crime, corrupt police, and public officials. His website is

University of Windsor Deletes Original Article, Cancels Author

The above article was originally published July 7, 2016 by the National Self-Represented Litigants Project at the University of Windsor Law School under the title The client most lawyers fear – and won’t represent at any price.

(The NSRLP article did not name the corrupt lawyers as this one does)

For the next seven years, the article was the #1 read article at the NSRLP website – a fact that was confirmed by both the NSRLP Director in a video presentation and in NSRLP Annual Reports.

In June of 2023, the National Self-Represented Litigants Project removed the article from its website and cancelled the author, Donald Best – removing all mention of him from the NSRLP website.

This was within a few days of Donald Best publishing a personal-website article featuring Lois Cardinal, a transsexual woman who self-identifies as:

“A sterilized Indian on a mission to save vulnerable children and young people from the predatory trans-industry that destroyed me.”

See Canada’s Largest Pharmacy Chain Quietly Deletes ‘Trans’ From Pride Month

NSRLP Executive Director Jennifer Lietch and many other members of the NSRLP refused to respond to written communications and phone messages from Donald Best – requesting the NSRLP to republish deleted article and about 50 public comments.

As of March 28, 2024, the University of Windsor Law School National Self-Represented Litigants Project is still banning and cancelling Donald Best.

Other Articles About The Corrupt Lawyers and Donald Best

December 24, 2018 – Cassels Brock website celebrates corrupt lawyer Lorne Silver who lied to jail a self-represented litigant

December 4, 2018 – Donald Best Receives the 2018 OCLA Civil Liberties Award

Cassels Brock website celebrates corrupt lawyer Lorne Silver who lied to jail a self-represented litigant

Bay Street law firm dares not sue Donald Best for publishing the truth.

by Donald Best, former Sergeant, Detective, Toronto Police

Even though Canadian lawyer Lorne Silver’s corrupt acts (fabrication of evidence, obstruction of justice and lies to the court) in the Donald Best legal cases are thoroughly proven and widely recognized by credible, independent observers – the Cassels Brock website still celebrates that Silver won the case and imprisoned a self-represented person for contempt of court.


Normalizing corruption

On November 17, 2009, Cassels Brock senior lawyer (and Deputy Managing Partner) Lorne Silver and two other Bay Street lawyers deliberately fabricated false evidence against me, Donald Best, to be used in a costs hearing in the Nelson Barbados Group Ltd. v. Cox civil case.

Cassels Brock brags about victory achieved by fabrication of evidence and lying to the court.

After a conference call with me, Lorne Silver and co-counsels Gerald Ranking and Sebastien Kwidzinski created a false ‘Statement for the Record’ wherein they officially informed the Ontario Superior Court that during the phone call I had ‘confessed’ to receiving a certain court order the day before. In fact, as my secret recording of the telephone conversation proves, under Silver’s questioning I denied numerous times receiving the court order and asked that the order be sent to me.

During subsequent ‘secret’ court hearings that I was not informed of and had no knowledge of, the corrupt lawyers doubled down on their lies orally on the record – assuring the court that their Statement for the Record was true and that I and not they, were lying to the court. (This was prior to them knowing that I had secretly recorded our phone conversation.) 

Further evidence shows that Fasken lawyer Gerald Ranking and his assistant Jeannine Ouellette also lied to the court about sending me the court order in the first place. They never sent the order that the lawyers told the court I had confessed to receiving in the phone call.

Corrupt lawyers Sebastien Kwidzinski, Gerald Ranking & Lorne Silver lied to the courts.

The lawyers deliberately lied to the court to convict me of Contempt of Court in a civil case costs hearing that I was not informed of. They also illegally paid a corrupt Ontario Provincial Police officer (Det. Sgt. Jim Van Allen) to illegally act as their unlicensed private investigator and to illegally provide confidential police records about my police employment and my family including the names of my children and ex-wife.

The veracity of the above facts is not now, and has never been, at issue.

Who says so? 

  • Senior Law Society of Ontario (LSO) lawyers such as Brian Greenspan, Milton Davis, Paul Slansky, LSO Bencher Rocco Galati and many others, including law professors and a Crown Attorney – all of whom determined that Lorne Silver, Gerald Ranking and Sebastien Kwidzinski lied to the court to convict me of contempt in absentia (when I was not present).
  • The Ontario Civil Liberties Association, that openly published a statement in my support when that organization honoured me as the sole recipient of the 2018 Ontario Civil Liberties Award.
  • Former Federal Cabinet Minister and Commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police, Julian Fantino in his sworn affidavit.
  • Dr. Stevan Pausak, forensic scientist at Ontario’s Centre of Forensic Sciences (1975-1998) in his sworn affidavit. 
  • Edward J. Primeau, noted forensic audio examiner, in his sworn affidavit.
  • Broadcast journalist Jimmy Dore during a live interview on The Jimmy Dore Show – and other Canadian and American journalists who examined the evidence and interviewed me.
  • Law Professor Julie Macfarlane, Director University of Windsor Law School National Self-Represented Litigants Project – who made a video presentation confirming that the lawyers lied to the court.
  • Two Canadian judges who privately told me that they are “ashamed” at what was done to me.
  • Hundreds of citizens who wrote to me, saying that they have listened to the voice recordings, compared them to the lawyers’ written and oral testimony in official court records – and are disgusted not only with the corrupt lawyers, but also with the legal profession and courts that worked together to save senior members of the Bay Street club even when that meant knowingly sending an innocent person to prison.

Yet, in the face of this truth and growing public realization of how Cassels Brock and its legal team imprisoned an innocent Canadian through the fabrication of false evidence and the commission of criminal offenses – the law firm’s website proudly proclaims the corrupt victory.

Good. I hope Cassels Brock leaves the webpage up as a testament to how far one of Canada’s premier law firms has fallen – and how it conducts itself with entitlement, impunity and contempt for Canadians and the Rule of Law.  

Donald Best cases won by Cassels Brock lawyer Lorne Silver on the basis of fabricated false evidence and other crimes:

  • Best v. Cox, 2014 ONCA 167
  • Best v. Cox, 2013 ONCA 695
  • Best v. Cox, 2013 ONSC 8025
  • Nelson Barbados Group Ltd. v. Cox, [2008] O.J. No. 2410
  • Nelson Barbados Group Ltd. v. Cox, 2008 CarswellOnt 2142
  • Nelson Barbados Group Ltd. v. Cox, [2008] O.J. No. 454

Notice to readers, including Persons and Entities mentoned in this article

As always, if anyone disagrees with anything published at DonaldBest.CA or wishes to provide a public response or comment, please contact me at [email protected] and I will publish your writing with equal prominence. Comments left on articles are moderated at least once a day. Or, of course, you can sue me and serve my lawyer Paul Slansky. You can find Mr. Slansky’s information here.

Photos have been included to put context to the article. Their use is the same as with other Canadian news outlets.

Readers are also encouraged to thoroughly study all the evidence available here at DonaldBest.CA, to perform independent research on the Internet and elsewhere, to consider all sides and to make up their own minds as to the events reported on DonaldBest.CA.

Donald Best
Barrie, Ontario, Canada

Donald Best receives 2018 Ontario Civil Liberties Award

Scandal, Cover-up by Federal Court of Canada Exposed.

by Donald Best, former Sergeant, Toronto Police

I’m surprised and deeply honoured to receive the 2018 Ontario Civil Liberties Award – announced this morning.

Today (and in my recorded acceptance speech – transcript here) I am calling upon the Law Society of Ontario and the law societies in every province to cease investigating complaints against their own members. This most serious conflict of interest undermines the profession’s credibility and the public’s trust in our legal system.

Self-investigation by the lawyers’ unions is a real conflict of interest that is unacceptable by any modern standard and cannot be resolved – except by the establishment of independent organizations in each province to receive complaints against lawyers, to perform professional unbiased investigations and to lay charges where appropriate. The retention of investigative functions by the law societies is indefensible.

Today, I also reveal details of an ongoing major scandal and active cover-up by the Courts Administration Service and the Federal Court of Canada that impacts every Canadian who has appeared before that court for any reason in the last few years.

This documented misconduct by Federal Court of Canada personnel throws into question every recent decision of the Federal Court of Canada. Dozens of lawyers and litigants have already contacted me about this revelation and I am aware of several lawsuits / legal motions that are imminent. At least one will be filed within days.

Regarding my personal legal battles, both the Ontario Civil Liberties Association (in their news media release) and University of Windsor law professor Julie Macfarlane in her introduction speech for my award – openly declare that I was unjustly convicted of contempt of court and imprisoned based upon false evidence fabricated by senior lawyers from some of Canada’s largest law firms. (Former OPP Commissioner of Police Julian Fantino said the same thing last year in a sworn affidavit and said that if he knew then what he knows now, he would have launched a criminal investigation against named Ontario Provincial Police officers and lawyers.)

To my friends and family who believed in me during the darkest times and gave me strength – thank you. This is your Ontario Civil Liberties Award as much as it is mine. To the legal profession and the courts… We want our justice system back.

Ontario Civil Liberties Association announcement…

My acceptance speech…

Professor Julie Macfarlane’s introduction…

Donald Best Receives the 2018 OCLA Civil Liberties Award

(Ottawa, December 4, 2018) – The Ontario Civil Liberties Association (OCLA) presents its 2018 Civil Liberties Award to whistleblower and anti-corruption activist Donald Best.

Donald Best is a former Sergeant (Detective) with the Toronto Police responsible for investigating Canadian police, lawyers, and politicians involved in organized crime, and a leading Canadian anti-corruption whistleblower and activist.

In his ongoing legal cases and public advocacy, Mr. Best has exposed corruption in the Canadian legal profession including secret orders and investigations by judges, the submission of false evidence in court by lawyers, and the failure of disciplinary bodies such as the Law Society of Ontario and the Canadian Judicial Council to investigate complaints against judges and lawyers.

Mr. Best’s tireless efforts to create integrity and accountability in the Canadian legal system make him an exemplary leader in the fight for equality before and under the law of all Canadians, including self-represented litigants.

Embedded at the OCLA’s award website (link HERE) is a video of Donald Best’s acceptance speech for the 2018 OCLA Civil Liberties Award, following a video introduction of Mr. Best by law professor Julie Macfarlane, Director of the National Self-Represented Litigants Project, University of Windsor.

Background Articles available online

Canadian lawyers must no longer investigate themselves and their friends.

Independent investigations of lawyer misconduct should be the standard.

It is no longer acceptable that the Canadian legal profession, that exerts vast influence and authority into every area of life, continues to self-regulate without transparency, independent civilian oversight and external accountability.

The powerful Canadian legal profession must be brought into compliance with modern standards of independent oversight and external accountability.

Are lawyers more honest than police officers… or are they also vulnerable to temptations and pressures?

For good reason, we don’t allow our police to operate without external oversight and accountability. The stories of police abuse, corruption and incompetence are legion – and in the last few years became a deluge as incidents are regularly documented with solid video and/or audio evidence from mobile phones, security and dashboard cameras.

Ontario and many other jurisdictions formed civilian investigative units to independently investigate serious police wrongdoing and to lay charges where appropriate.

And still, we have trouble holding the police accountable.

Unlike police officers, lawyers do not generally commit crimes in the street while surrounded by surveillance cameras and citizens wielding mobile phones.

Lawyer misconduct is often done in backrooms with a signature, a few words – or a wink and a nod that betray a small client in favour of a larger big-spending long-term corporate client.

The law societies across Canada are simply a group of friends investigating and ‘disciplining’ the same people they went to school with, socialize with and meet in the workplace and in court. That works out exactly as you think it would and it is never about the public trust no matter how many times the law society executives say the words.

The Law Society of Ontario covered up and whitewashed hundreds of crimes by lawyers who committed criminal offences against their clients – according to the Toronto Star’s Broken Trust investigation. I can’t think of why it would be different in any other province.

Canadians must demand laws that will force upon the legal profession real transparency, independent civilian oversight and external accountability to Canadians at large. Self-regulation of lawyers must end.


Law Society of Ontario calls for input into money laundering rules… Foxes designing hen house security

Money Laundering needs specialists

Lawyers are key to successful money laundering. That’s why the rules shouldn’t be left up to them.

During his acceptance speech as the co-winner of the 2015 Allard Prize for International Integrity, journalist Rafael Marques de Morais said “(unethical) Lawyers are servants in the architecture of corruption.”

Indeed they are. Lawyers are very necessary servants in the architecture of corruption for without lawyers willing to assist their valued clients, money laundering would be much more difficult for organized crime, crooked politicians, cheating corporations and others so inclinded to wash and conceal money here in Canada or offshore.

With Canadian banks and other named businesses having to report to the government large cash transactions (deposits or withdrawals over $10,000 cash) and also suspicious transactions – lawyers are the go-to people for weaseling around the laws because they are largely exempt from the reporting rules and constraints of non-lawyers. Plus, lawyers have a vast array of creative tools and strategies available – not to mention an international brotherhood that is experienced in working around inconvenient laws.

After 9/11, Canadian lawyers fought hard to keep from being more closely regulated and scrutinized over the issue of money transfers. They succeeded for a time, but the pressure is on again.

“The Law Society ‘solution’ for preventing money laundering is to rely entirely upon the integrity of individual lawyers – with no accounting or oversight by the law society or anyone else unless a complaint is made. Given that those involved in money laundering would never complain to the law society, that wraps things up quite nicely.”

Law Society of Ontario calls for input into money laundering rules

Canadian lawyers admit they are in fear of “the possibility of a renewed effort by the federal government to extend the PCMLTFA (Proceeds of Crime – Money Laundering – and Terrorist Financing Act) to members of the legal profession.” (See page 2 of the Law Society of Ontario’s Call for Input – download 1mb pdf here.)

As a result, the law societies across Canada have banded together with the Federation of Law Societies of Canada to present a little dog and pony show for the public and the legislators (who are primarily legal profession club members themselves.) The ‘club’ created a ‘Professional Regulation Committee’ and is calling for input from lawyers to the proposed amendments to the Anti-Money Laundering Rules.

A few minor changes coupled with a public relations campaign should do the trick… anything to stave off effective regulations that would cramp the profession’s ability to creatively serve the needs of their big-paying clients that they don’t want anyone to look at too closely.

You will note how the LSO proposal deals with transfers of cash, identifying and verifying clients and the use of lawyer’s trust accounts. A closer read shows that the proposed changes still leave lots of leeway and discretion to individual money-laundering lawyers. The money laundering toolbox is still intact with private mortgages, property transfers, offshore corporations and lots more tools still viable as lawyers’ secret conduits for tainted money.

Focus on Cash is a red herring.

The focus upon cash is a red herring for Canadian lawyers. Most of the money-laundering lawyers in Canada are not involved with large cash transactions through their own hands. By the time money arrives in their law firm accounts, it is coming through banks and from other lawyers in the form of documented transfers, real estate sales to apparent arms length parties and staged business dealings that have just enough appearance of legitimacy to protect the involved lawyers and law firms.

A Global Witness undercover investigation showed that 25% of New York lawyers would money-launder for strangers walking in off the streets. That was for strangers, not valued and known clients. Do we think that proportion of crooked lawyers is any different in Toronto, London or Barbados?

LSO Treasurer Paul Schabas (left) covered up fraud and money-laundering indicators for corrupt lawyer Gerald Ranking.

Law Society of Ontario Treasurer Paul Schabas knew that lawyer Gerald Ranking fraudulently used a fake business entity in Ontario courts, and that Ranking received a million dollars in a trust account for this phony purported client.

Intruding into this Law Society of Ontario dog and pony show are some serious facts that destroy the law society’s credibility to deal with apparent money-laundering by legal club member lawyers.

For instance, Law Society of Ontario Treasurer Paul Schabas was co-counsel with corrupt Fasken lawyer Gerald L. Ranking on a civil case where Ranking went wild with criminal misconduct. Schabas at the time was a bencher and a member of the law society’s discipline committee. (See ‘Paul Schabas and Canada’s Corrupt Bay Street Lawyers‘ for details and supporting court exhibits.)

What did Paul Schabas do when he learned that Gerald Ranking’s purported client in a civil case was actually a non-existent fictional creation?

Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Nada. Zilch.

What did Law Society of Ontario bencher Paul Schabas do when he learned that Gerald Ranking had received about a million dollars in a trust account for his ficticious non-existent client?

Paul Schabas and his law society knew that lawyer Gerald Ranking of Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP’s Toronto office fraudulently claimed that his purported client was a registered Barbados business – when in fact the ‘company’ was a phony non-entity conjured up to deflect liability from Ranking’s actual clients. Schabas and the law society also knew that Ranking received over a million dollars court costs payments in the name of the phony ‘company’ that Ranking knew didn’t really exist – a badge of money laundering.

What did Paul Schabas do when he knew that the million dollars could not possibly be deposited to the credit of the fake ‘business’ that the court awarded it to?


So you see… Law Society Treasurer Paul Shabas and the Law Society of Ontario cannot be trusted to administer, investigate and discipline lawyers who violate anti-money laundering rules, including the ‘know your client’ provisions.

And that was just one case. Here’s a few hundred more…

According to the Toronto Star’s Broken Trust investigation, in the last few years the Law Society of Ontario covered up and whitewashed hundreds of crimes by lawyers who committed criminal offences against their clients.

And now the Law Society of Ontario is proposing minor changes to the anti-money-laundering rules that will do little to stem the problem of money-laundering lawyers – the “servants in the architecture of corruption.”

It is time to bring Canada’s legal profession into compliance with modern standards of transparency, independent oversight and external accountability.