April 5, 2012 – Update from Commissioner Wally Oppal

(Information attributable to Mr. Wally Oppal, Q.C., Commissioner)

I realize that there are many concerns about the anonymous allegations reported this week in the National Post. I find it challenging that such serious allegations outlined in two articles are all based on anonymous sources.

I have often said that we welcome criticism and feedback and that we strive to learn from what has been done. I believe we should be held to the highest standard. I am disappointed that the people that felt strongly enough to go to the media with their concerns are not willing to identify themselves. Responding to criticisms from anonymous sources is challenging because specifics are not provided and there is little to no context surrounding the limited information put forward in these serious allegations.

I want to be very clear here – especially under the cloud of new allegations put forward by the National Post – the work being done by this Commission is excellent. I have every confidence in the information and knowledge that has been gained to date and I know that we will learn a great deal more over the coming weeks through the panel hearings, the upcoming workshops and public forums, and the research that is being done. To call the quality of the work of the Commission into question through anonymous sources is unreasonable and, I believe, unfair.

I have every confidence that this Commission will deliver a report that is valuable and that puts forward effective recommendations that will help to save lives of some of our most vulnerable citizens. That is what our objective is – and that is what we are all working towards during this particularly challenging and upsetting period.

While I believe strongly in the people that work for this Commission and in the work that is being done, I also have a responsibility to investigate allegations as serious as those put forward in the National Post. In that regard, we have retained Peter Gall, Q.C. as Independent Counsel to advise us on this matter, including how to proceed with the investigation on the allegations. Mr. Gall is a Senior Partner with the law firm Heenan Blaikie and is one of Canada’s leading administrative law experts.

This Commission has had many challenges. These allegations have greatly affected every one of us at the Commission office. We are focused on the hearings, the upcoming workshops and public forums. We have not lost sight of the importance and value of the work being done here. Throughout this week, I have heard time and time again from Counsel and staff that they are committed to this important work, that they believe in what we are accomplishing here, and that they are confident that this Commission will produce an excellent report with strong recommendations. I am honoured to work with such committed professionals.