September 28, 2010 – Oppal to Head Inquiry into Missing Women Vancouver

VANCOUVER – Wally Oppal, QC, has been named commissioner of the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry, Attorney General Michael de Jong, QC, announced today.

The hearing commission will consider the police investigations conducted between Jan. 23, 1997 and Feb. 5, 2002 into women reported missing from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. It will also review the January 1998 decision by the Ministry of Attorney General’s criminal justice branch to stay charges against Robert W. Pickton for the assault of a Downtown Eastside sex trade worker.

Oppal was attorney general for B.C. from 2005 to 2009. A Vancouver native, he served as a judge in the County Court of B.C. from 1981 to 1985 and in B.C. Supreme Court from 1985 to 2003, when he was appointed to the B.C. Court of Appeal. He was previously commissioner of an independent commission of inquiry into policing in British Columbia.

Hearing commissions investigate and make findings of fact in matters where there is the possibility of a finding of misconduct. Commissions are independent bodies under the Public Inquiry Act that provide advice and recommendations to government on specific topics of interest to the public. Under the act, release of inquiry reports is mandatory.

The attorney general is responsible for the Public Inquiry Act and receiving Oppal’s report, to be submitted by or before Dec. 31, 2011. Public inquiry reports are tabled before the legislative assembly, following a review related to the applicable sections of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. Oral hearings are open to the public, unless the inquiry commissioner determines that protection of a personal or public interest requires otherwise.