Department of Justice Canada

Department of Justice Canada

March 11, 2009 10:17 ET

Minister of Justice Orders New Trial in Manitoba Murder Case

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - March 11, 2009) - The Honourable Rob Nicholson, P.C., Q.C., M.P. for Niagara Falls, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, today announced he has ordered a new trial for Kyle Wayne Unger, under the conviction review provisions of the Criminal Code.

"I am satisfied there is a reasonable basis to conclude that a miscarriage of justice likely occurred in Mr. Unger's 1992 conviction," said Minister Nicholson.

Mr. Unger was convicted of the first-degree murder of Brigitte Grenier at an outdoor rock concert which was held near Roseisle, Manitoba in June 1990. His appeal to the Manitoba Court of Appeal was rejected and leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada was denied.

In September 2004, an advisory committee established by the Manitoba government, the Forensic Evidence Review Committee, called into question the hair comparison evidence used at Mr. Unger's trial.

Mr. Unger's counsel subsequently filed an application to the Minister of Justice for a review of the murder conviction pursuant to sections 696.1-696.6 of the Criminal Code. In November 2005, a judge of the Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench granted Mr. Unger bail pending the Minister's decision.

For an application for ministerial review to succeed, the Minister of Justice must be satisfied that there is a reasonable basis to conclude that a miscarriage of justice likely occurred. If this requirement is met, the Minister may grant one of two remedies - a direction for a new trial or a referral of the matter to the court of appeal to be heard as a new appeal.

As well, the Minister has the legal authority at any time prior to his decision to refer a question about an application to a Court of Appeal for its opinion.

Minister Nicholson made his decision to order a new trial after reviewing the Investigation Report and advice of the Department's Criminal Conviction Review Group; the submissions of Mr. Unger's counsel and of the Attorney General of Manitoba; and the recommendations of Mr. Bernard Grenier, the Minister's Special Advisor on the criminal conviction review process.

As the Unger matter has now been returned to the courts, Minister Nicholson cannot comment further.

When rendering a decision on an application for ministerial review, the Minister is not making a finding of guilt or innocence, as he has no legal authority to make such a finding. The Minister is returning the matter to the courts in circumstances where there is a reasonable basis to conclude that a miscarriage of justice likely occurred.

Further information about applications for ministerial review and the conviction review process is available at the CCRG website (

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Contact Information

  • Office of the Minister of Justice
    Darren Eke
    Press Secretary
    Department of Justice
    Media Relations