Disgraced MLA hopes fugitive's arrest will help him clear his name
Published Thursday, January 13, 2011 6:00PM CST
Former MLA Bob Wilson is hoping the arrest of a Winnipeg man – who was on the lam for the last 30 years – will help him clear his name.
"All these attempts to destroy me have failed and there is a reason for that. The truth will set everybody free," Wilson told CTV in Vancouver on Thursday.
Wilson served seven years in prison for his role in a scheme to import 500 pounds of marijuana, hidden in boats, from Florida to Winnipeg.
During the massive investigation, police tapped phones at the legislature. Wilson was eventually impeached.
This week, U.S. Marshals arrested Ian Jackson MacDonald, a yacht dealer and Wilson's former friend. He had escaped a Florida jail in 1980 and lived in Pennsylvania and Florida until a cold case squad tracked him down on Tuesday.
For Wilson, the arrest could be a chance to clear his name.
"It's just unbelievable, because this is new evidence and this is going to be wonderful," Wilson said.
MacDonald is a former Winnipeger, also known as Whitey for his once light-blonde hair. He is now white-haired and 71-years old.
MacDonald is believed to be the mastermind behind the drug smuggling case.
On Tuesday he was arrested in his Florida home, reportedly telling the arresting officers, "You got me. I have been looking over my shoulder all these years. I wondered when this day would come."
U.S. Marshals said MacDonald broke out of prison by faking a heart attack and asking to take a shower once he was in hospital.
The former prosecutor of the case said he believes a new trial might be difficult.
"With the passage of time recollections fade, and that's a serious problem where a case has been stretched out in thirty years," Bruce MacFarlane said from Arizona.
Wilson's former lawyer, Jay Prober, said that issue makes him wonder if former-MLA Wilson could get a new trial now and fight to prove his innocence.
"I'm not saying it's an impossible battle," Prober said. "It's a battle that could be won depending on what MacDonald has to say.
A man describes himself as Wilson's former business partner maintains the former politician's innocence, saying the MLA—whom he calls by the nickname "Junior"—wasn't aware the drugs he was charged with smuggling were in the boats he brought into Canada.
"He would have had a heart attack, he would have been so nervous and so stupid," the man says. "He thought he was in the boat business."
Canadian officials are now looking into extraditing MacDonald.
-with a report from CTV's Stacey Ashley