The Fifth Estate Presents 21st Century Final Episode: Law & Disorder

Friday, Feb. 26, at 9 p.m. (9:30 NT), on CBC-TV

In the final installment of its three-part series that looks back on how the fifth estate covered the first decade of the new century, the show’s award-winning hosts reflect on the issue that viewers associate more than any other with the program: justice and injustice. the fifth estate:  21st Century – Law & Disorder airs on Friday, Feb. 26, at 9 p.m. (9:30 NT), on CBC-TV.

For the fifth estate’s investigative journalists, the issue is central to the work they do. Gillian Findlay says: “When institutions fail, people need to know and there needs to be an explanation as to why, and there needs to be accountability as to why. We seem to have developed an ability to tell these stories.”

Among the fifth estate stories that Findlay and her colleagues Linden MacIntyre, Bob McKeown and Hana Gartner will reflect on:

Luck of the Draw (October 2006) – It’s a gamble that most of us have taken at some point:  bought a ticket at a corner store and hoped that we’d be the next big lottery winner.  But, what if you bought a winning ticket but never knew?   Gillian Findlay and the fifth estate investigated the rate at which store clerks and retailers were winning big prizes and why.  The results of that investigation changed the way the Ontario Lottery Corporation did business.

Disappearing Act (October 2008) – David Reiner, a 61-year-old bookkeeper, was known to be a compassionate professional who had never broken a law – not a hardened criminal. Yet, he vanished after stealing almost a million dollars from 21 non-profit daycare centers in Toronto. Hana Gartner and the fifth estate tracked Reiner to Africa, confronted him, and ultimately brought him home to Canada to face justice. 

Ty Conn: A Life Imprisoned (March 2000) – Linden MacIntyre first met Ty Conn in 1994 when Conn was featured in a show about the effects of child abuse. Later, they became friends.  Linden never expected that another documentary would result from that relationship.  But, it did and in a way that no one could have predicted.  In May of 1999, Ty Conn escaped from Kingston Penitentiary and while hunted down and surrounded by police, he phoned a fifth estate producer. As he talked to her, he shot and killed himself.

A Death in the Family (January 2009) – William Mullins-Johnson spent more than a decade in prison, serving a life sentence for the first-degree murder conviction of his four-year-old niece, Valin, in 1993.  His was a wrongful conviction.  No one had murdered Valin.  Mullins-Johnson was one of the many victims of disgraced pathologist Dr. Charles Smith and his questionable evidence.  But, after Mullins-Johnson’s release and exoneration Gillian Findlay learned that there was no easy path to reconciliation with his family which had been torn apart by suspicion and hatred after Valin’s death. 

Eve of Redemption and The Steven Truscott Story: Moment of Truth (March 20, 2000 and October 20, 2004) – It was one of the most notorious murder cases in Canadian history.  Twelve-year-old Lynne Harper was found dead in June of 1959.  Fourteen-year-old Steven Truscott was convicted and sentenced to hang for her murder.  He escaped the noose and was eventually released with a new name and identity, but doubts about his conviction continued to haunt the pages of Canadian justice.  Linden MacIntyre and the fifth estate uncovered evidence that showed the case against Truscott was dubious, at best. 

Frost Bite and Rogue Agent and Inside Room 22 (various air dates) – Early in the morning of April 16, 2004 NHL hockey player Mike Danton was arrested by FBI agents at the San Jose, California airport, a conspirator in a “murder for hire” plot.  The intended target:  his own agent, David Frost.  the fifth estate obtained a series of recorded jailhouse phone conversations between the two men, revealing Frost’s influence over Danton – a chilling glimpse into the world of the troubled player and his controlling mentor. Bob McKeown traces their story back to Brampton, Ontario, where the relationship began.

The Lady Vanishes (November 2007) – Sandy Munroe won considerable media support and public sympathy with his story that his wife, Heli, suffering from Alzheimer’s, had been kidnapped by her own brother and taken to England.  Government inaction and red tape, he said, prevented him from bringing Heli home to Nova Scotia.  But, Hana Gartner and a fifth estate team tracked down the couple’s estranged son, spoke to Heli’s family in England as well as to friends in Nova Scotia who had assisted her brother, and drew a very different conclusion.  

Executive producer of the fifth estate is Sally Reardon. The series producer of the fifth estate:  21st Century is Patsy Pehleman.

CBC News Network rebroadcasts the fifth estate on Saturdays, at 8 p.m. ET, Sundays, at 7 p.m. ET, and Tuesdays, at 10 p.m. ET/PT.

For more information on the fifth estate, visit their website at and join us on Facebook.

About the author