Kitchener-Hespeler MP Marwan Tabbara’s April arrest remained quiet until last Friday but several factors may have contributed to the silence.
The Liberal MP was arrested on Good Friday in Guelph, Ont., before being charged with assault, breaking and entering to commit an indictable offence, and criminal harassment.
Normally he would have appeared in a Kitchener courtroom. But the fact that it occurred on a stat holiday during the coronavirus pandemic led to a virtual bail hearing in London, according to a spokesperson for the Ontario Court of Justice (OCJ).
Tabbara was arrested on Good Friday and in such cases, all bail matters are handled by the London courthouse, according to OCJ communications officer James Schneider.
“We can also confirm that the matter was heard by video,” he said, noting that has been standard practice during the coronavirus epidemic. “During the COVID-19 period, the Ontario Court of Justice has adopted virtual proceedings, wherever facilities allow, to reduce COVID-related health and safety risks associated with in-person appearances.”
Guelph Police looked to clear the air on Thursday night as to why they did not release any info about the arrest at the time it occurred.
In a release, Guelph police point to a section of the Police Services Act that allows them to release information to the public if they believe that an accused poses a risk to the public and that making the information available would reduce that risk. In this case, they did not feel Tabbara was necessary.
The release also noted that Guelph police’s media relations unit was not informed of Tabbara’s arrest.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the Liberal Party was unaware of the arrest until June 5, which would appear to indicate Tabbara did not share news of the information.
“As we said, I and my office only learned about the serious charges against this MP on Friday,” Trudeau said during a press conference on Tuesday.
“No one in my party or my organization knew anything about them until Friday.”
After Global News broke the story of his arrest, Tabbara announced that he would be “stepping back” from the Liberal caucus while the matter proceeds through the courts.
“Other than to state unequivocally that every incident of violence is unacceptable and inexcusable, it would be inappropriate for me to comment further while this matter is before the court,” he said.
Tabbara, 35, said he is receiving counselling for anxiety and depression.
Police say they won’t be releasing any more information about the charges against Tabbara.
He is scheduled to make a court appearance on June 19. A publication ban prevents Global News from revealing any details obtained from court documents.
—With files from Canadian Press and Global News’ Hannah Jackson