August 25, 2011 – Dates and Venues Announced for Missing Women Commission of Inquiry Community Forums in Northern B.C.

The Missing Women Commission of Inquiry today provided details of seven community forums it will host in northern British Columbia in the week of September 12 and again invited members of the communities and interested organizations to participate. Additional forums may be held in the week of September 19.

The purpose of the northern B.C. forums is to give members of the communities an opportunity to provide input to the Commission on issues within its mandate. This will help inform the Commission’s report and recommendations for the effective initiation and conduct of investigations of missing and murdered women. It will also allow the Commission to take into account the situation in specific communities.

The Commission believes it is important to hear directly from family members who have been most affected by the tragedy of murdered and missing women.

Details of the community forums are as follows:

Prince Rupert Community Forum
Monday September 12
1:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Northwest Community College – Multipurpose Room
353 – 5th Street, Prince Rupert

Terrace – Kitsumkalum Community Forum
Tuesday September 13, 2011
8:30 am – 12:30 pm
Kitsumkalum Hall
3514 West Kalum Road, Terrace

Gitanyow Community Forum
Tuesday September 13, 2011
3:00pm to 5:00 pm
Gitanyow Independent School
3389 Third Ave, Kitwanga

Terrace – Nisga’a Community Forum
Tuesday September 13, 2011
7:30 pm to 9:00 pm
Nisga’a Community Room
101 – 4441 Lakelse Ave, Terrace

Moricetown Community Forum
Wednesday September 14, 2011
1:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Moricetown Multiplex
205 Beaver Rd, Smithers

Smithers Community Forum
Wednesday September 14, 2011
6:30 pm – 8:30 pm
3955 3rd Avenue, Smithers

Hazelton Community Forum
Thursday September 15, 2011
9:00 am to 12:00 pm
Gitanmaax Hall
1965 Hwy 62, Hazelton

The forums are open to members of the public and the media.

The forums are part of the study commission portion of the inquiry. The Commission’s mandate includes a hearing commission and a study commission. The hearing commission portion will begin in Vancouver on October 11.

A study commission employs less formal means than a hearing commission, such as research, individual consultations and public forums, to gather the information required to fulfill the mandate to develop recommendations for policy change. The community forums will not be adversarial, individuals will make their presentations directly to the commissioner and although questions may be posed to participants by the commission counsel and the commissioner, there will be no cross examination.

Under its terms of reference, the Commission must hold its formal hearings into various aspects of the Robert Pickton case in or near Vancouver. It cannot inquire into ongoing investigations of missing or murdered women, such as the Highway of Tears cases.

However, the Commission has been asked to recommend changes considered necessary with respect to the initiation and conduct of investigations in B.C. of missing women and suspected multiple homicides, and to homicide investigations by more than one investigating organization, including the co-ordination of those investigations. Study commission activities will be designed with this responsibility in mind.

If they have not already done so, individuals or organizations interested in participating in one of the forums should register with the Commission by e-mail, telephone or in writing by September 8, 2011. Written submissions must be received by the Commission by November 30, 2011. Contact information is as follows:
Email: info@missingwomeninquiry.ca
Phone: Toll free 1-877-681-4470
Fax: 604-681-4458
Mail: #1402 – 808 Nelson Street, Vancouver, BC V6Z 2H2

Presenters should provide their name and contact information and a brief description of what issues they plan to address. The forums will be open to the public and the media. Please visit the Commission’s website – www.missingwomeninquiry.ca – and go to the page “Ways to Participate” for more information, including a list of frequently asked questions regarding the northern B.C. community forums.

The Missing Women Commission of Inquiry was appointed by the British Columbia provincial government last year to inquire into the conduct of police investigations of women reported missing from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside between January 23, 1997 and February 5, 2002. The Commission’s terms of reference also allow it to gather information and make recommendations on the conduct of investigations of missing women and suspected multiple murders throughout the province.

In addition, the Commission will examine the decision by the B.C. Criminal Justice Branch on January 27, 1998 to stop legal proceedings against Robert William Pickton on charges of attempted murder, assault with a weapon, forcible confinement and aggravated assault.

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August 10, 2011 – Missing Women Commission Appoints Two Independent Lawyers; Two Others to Participate Pro Bono

The Missing Women Commission of Inquiry announced today that it has hired two independent lawyers on contract to help ensure that the perspectives of Vancouver’s Downtown East Side community and Aboriginal women are presented at the inquiry, which is scheduled to start on October 11.

The two Vancouver-based lawyers, Mr. Jason Gratl, a past president of the BC Civil Liberties Association, and Ms. Robyn Gervais, who previously represented the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council at the Commission, will not represent specific clients. They will work independently of the Commission with a mandate to serve the public interest at the hearings. They are expected to take guidance from unfunded participant groups and affected organizations and individuals.

The Commission also announced that two prominent Vancouver lawyers, Mr. Bryan Baynham Q.C. and Mr. Darrell Roberts Q.C., will participate pro bono in the inquiry in support of Ms. Gervais.

Commission spokesperson, Chris Freimond, said Commissioner Wally Oppal and his staff are confident that the participation of the four lawyers will contribute significantly to the Commission’s ability to conduct a relevant inquiry leading to findings and recommendations that will make a real difference to the people of British Columbia and Canada.

“The Commission has worked hard to prepare for the hearings and believes that when they begin on October 11, it will become clear that the resources and structure are in place to deal thoroughly with the important issues in a way that satisfies British Columbians,” said Mr. Freimond.

He added that the knowledge and understanding of the Downtown East Side community and Aboriginal women’s issues that Mr. Gratl and Ms. Gervais bring to the inquiry will help ensure that the perspectives of these communities are presented at the hearings. They will also be able to test evidence at the inquiry in an adversarial role, if so required, as will Mr. Baynham and Mr. Roberts, two of Vancouver most senior and respected lawyers.

While it is not known at this stage what the cost of hiring Mr. Gratl and Ms. Gervais will be, the Commission has the budget to fund their services because it has reallocated resources and benefitted from cost savings in its investigations, which did not take as much time as previously anticipated.

The Commission’s hearings will begin in Vancouver on October 11, 2011. They will be divided into four broad categories. The order has yet to be confirmed, but the categories are:

  1. The Downtown East Side (DTES) community, families of the murdered and missing women and the actions of the city and provincial government with respect to the Pickton investigation;
  2. The conduct of Vancouver Police Department between January 23, 1997 and February 5, 2002 with respect to the murdered and missing women from the DTES;
  3. The Conduct of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police between January 23, 1997 and February 5, 2002 with respect to the murdered and missing women from the DTES; and
  4. Decision by the Criminal Justice Branch to stay the 1997 charges against Robert Pickton;

The Missing Women Commission of Inquiry was appointed by the British Columbia provincial government last year to inquire into the conduct of police investigations of women reported missing from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside between January 23, 1997 and February 5, 2002. The Commission’s terms of reference also allow it to gather information and make recommendations on the conduct of investigations of missing women and suspected multiple murders throughout the province.

In addition, the Commission will examine the decision by the B.C. Criminal Justice Branch on January 27, 1998 to stop legal proceedings against Robert William Pickton on charges of attempted murder, assault with a weapon, forcible confinement and aggravated assault.

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August 5, 2011 – Missing Women Commission of Inquiry to Hold Community Forums in Northern B.C. in September

The Missing Women Commission of Inquiry will hold forums in nine communities in northern British Columbia between September 12 and 22 and has invited members of the communities and interested organizations to participate.

The purpose of the northern B.C. forums is to give members of the communities an opportunity to provide input to the Commission on issues within its mandate. This will help inform the Commission’s report and recommendations for the effective initiation and conduct of investigations of missing and murdered women. It will also allow the Commission to take into account the situation in specific communities.

The Commission believes it is important to hear directly from family members who have been most affected by the tragedy of murdered and missing women.

The forums are part of the study commission portion of the inquiry. The Commission’s mandate includes a hearing commission and a study commission. The hearing commission portion will begin in Vancouver on October 11.

A study commission employs less formal means than a hearing commission, such as research, individual consultations and public forums, to gather the information required to fulfill the mandate to develop recommendations for policy change. The community forums will not be adversarial, individuals will make their presentation directly to the commissioner and although questions may be posed to participants by the commission counsel and the commissioner, there will be no cross examination.

Under its terms of reference, the Commission must hold its formal hearings into various aspects of the Robert Pickton case in or near Vancouver. It cannot inquire into ongoing investigations of missing or murdered women, such as the Highway of Tears cases.

However, the Commission has been asked to recommend changes considered necessary with respect to the initiation and conduct of investigations in B.C. of missing women and suspected multiple homicides, and to homicide investigations by more than one investigating organization, including the co-ordination of those investigations. Study commission activities will be designed with this responsibility in mind.

Afternoon and evening sessions will be held in different communities between Prince Rupert and Prince George from September 12-22. Specific dates, times and venues will be announced shortly.

Individuals or organizations interested in participating in one of the forums should register with the Commission by e-mail, telephone or in writing by September 8, 2011. Written submissions must be received by the Commission by November 30, 2011. Contact information is as follows:

Email: info@missingwomeninquiry.ca
Phone: Toll free 1-877-681-4470
Fax: 604-681-4458
Mail: #1402 – 808 Nelson Street, Vancouver, BC V6Z 2H2

Presenters should provide their name and contact information and a brief description of what issues they plan to address. The forums will be open to the public and the media. Please visit the Commission’s website – www.missingwomeninquiry.ca – and go to the page “Ways to Participate” for a list of frequently asked questions regarding the northern B.C. community forums.

The Missing Women Commission of Inquiry was appointed by the British Columbia provincial government last year to inquire into the conduct of police investigations of women reported missing from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside between January 23, 1997 and February 5, 2002. The Commission’s terms of reference also allow it to gather information and make recommendations on the conduct of investigations of missing women and suspected multiple murders throughout the province.

In addition, the Commission will examine the decision by the B.C. Criminal Justice Branch on January 27, 1998 to stop legal proceedings against Robert William Pickton on charges of attempted murder, assault with a weapon, forcible confinement and aggravated assault.

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June 15, 2011 – Notice of a Pre-Hearing Conference

Please be advised that the pre-hearing conference that had been scheduled for June 13, 2011 has now been re-scheduled for June 27, 2011 at 10:00 a.m. It will be held on the 12th floor, 1125 Howe Street. I am requesting all Participants and their counsel, if possible, to attend.

At the pre-hearing conference, I ask that the Participants who have not been granted funding by the government to address the following issues:

  • The need for them to be represented by legal counsel at the hearing portion of the Inquiry;
  • How their interests may be impacted if funding for legal counsel is not provided; and
  • A description of the communication they have had with the Attorney General’s office with respect to: any input that was sought from them to help the Attorney General’s office make a decision about funding and whether any basis was provided to them for the denial of funding.

 

I would be pleased to hear from both counsel and the Participants themselves on these matters, so I can fully understand the effect that the Attorney General’s decision will have on their ability to participate and the ability of this Commission to fulfill its terms of reference.

So that all Participants can be accommodated, I ask that oral submissions be limited to 15 minutes. Written submissions from counsel &/or the Participants will be accepted, but are not required.

Any questions regarding this pre-hearing conference should be directed to: Ms. Jessica McKeachie, Research Counsel, at jmckeachie@missingwomeninquiry.ca or 604-566-8026.

The Hon. Wally Oppal, Q.C.
Commissioner
Missing Women Commission of Inquiry
June 15, 2011

May 24, 2011 – Statement by Commissioner Wally Oppal, Q.C., Regarding BC Government Decision on Funding For Groups Participating in the Missing Women Inquiry

VANCOUVER – I am aware of the reaction of several groups that have been granted standing before the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry to the Attorney General’s decision last week not to provide funding for their legal representation at the Inquiry.

My recommendation to the provincial government was to fund all the groups that satisfied me that they would not be able to participate fully without financial support.

My intention was to ensure that no group with standing before the Inquiry would be denied legal counsel at the evidentiary hearings due to lack of funds.

As an inquiry commissioner, I must at all times remain independent and I was therefore not involved in the government’s decision to not fund the groups as I recommended, and I do not know the reasons for the decision. That is an issue that the Attorney General can address if he so wishes.

My intention is still to ensure that any group that feels it needs to be represented by legal counsel at the evidentiary hearings in order to participate fully in the Inquiry has that representation. At this stage, I don’t know if and how that can be achieved. However, I have asked my counsel, Mr. Art Vertlieb, Q.C., to meet with lawyers representing the groups that have been denied funding to see what can be done to meet their clients’ needs.

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May 4, 2011 – Missing Women Commission of Inquiry Considers Visiting Northern Communities

VANCOUVER – The Missing Women Commission of Inquiry is considering visiting several communities in northern British Columbia in mid-June to hold forums on the murdered and missing women, Commissioner Wally Oppal, Q.C., said today.

“In particular, I would like to hear from residents about the impact of the women who have gone missing along the Highway of Tears,” said Mr. Oppal.

He noted that he visited Prince George in January to hold a pre-hearing conference at which he provided more information about the public inquiry into the conduct of the investigations by police forces respecting women reported missing in B.C.

“I asked the people of the region to come to the conference to tell me how they had been impacted by the tragedy of the missing and murdered women including victims on what has become known as the Highway of Tears.

“I was deeply moved by what I heard and it served once again to underscore the true magnitude of the tragedy. I also took note of repeated requests for me to visit other northern communities to hear from people who want to contribute to the commission’s work,” he said.

As a result of those requests, Mr. Oppal is considering visiting several northern B.C. communities in mid-June and has appealed to anyone who would like to make a presentation to the commission should he decide to visit their community to contact his office by mail, e-mail or telephone and provide the following information:
• Their name, address, telephone number and e-mail address.
• A brief summary of the subject of their presentation.

The information should be provided to:
Robyn Kendall
Missing Women Commission of Inquiry
#1402 – 808 Nelson Street
Vancouver, BC V6Z 2H2
Phone: 604-566-8034
Fax: 604-681-4458
Toll free: 1-877-681-4470
Email: rkendall@missingwomeninquiry.ca

The Missing Women Commission of Inquiry was appointed by the British Columbia provincial government last year to inquire into the conduct of police investigations of women reported missing from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside between January 23, 1997 and February 5, 2002. The Commission’s terms of reference also allow it to inquire into the investigation of missing women and suspected multiple murders throughout the province.

In addition, the Commission will examine the decision by the B.C. Criminal Justice Branch on January 27, 1998 to stop legal proceedings against Robert William Pickton on charges of attempted murder, assault with a weapon, forcible confinement and aggravated assault.

The Commission’s mandate includes a “hearing” commission and a “study” commission. A study commission is less formal than a hearing commission and tends to focus more on research, the gathering of information and the discussion of policy issues. It is not adversarial, questions are posed to participants by the commission counsel and the commissioner, and there is no cross examination.

The inquiry’s study commission forums are expected to begin in Northern B.C. in mid-June. The hearing commission’s formal proceedings are expected to begin later in the year.

Further information about the Commission’s work and mandate is available on its website: www.missingwomeninquiry.ca

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May 3, 2011 – Missing Women Commission of Inquiry Grants Standing to Participate in Evidentiary Hearings

VANCOUVER – All of the applicants who applied for standing before the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry will be given an opportunity to participate in the evidentiary hearings.

In a ruling released today, Commissioner Wally Oppal, Q.C., granted full participation to 10 applicants and limited participation to eight applicants He also recommended that the provincial government provide funding to 13 applicants who asked for financial support to fund their participation in the inquiry.

Originally, 23 applicants applied for standing. The number was reduced to 18 after Mr. Oppal requested applicants to form coalitions of groups with similar interests.

Full participants will be able to take part in all phases of the Commission’s evidentiary hearings including cross examining witnesses and making submissions. They will also have access to the documents disclosed to the Commission.

Limited participants will have access to documents and will have the right to make final submissions at the conclusion of the evidentiary hearings, but they will need to apply to Mr. Oppal on an individual witness basis to cross examine witnesses.

Mr. Oppal said the applicants that have been granted full participation tend to be grass roots advocacy and service organizations that have direct and daily contact with the community, including with many of the women who were reported missing.

“These groups are closer to the facts at issue. Most of these groups were front line lobbyists for public attention to the missing and murdered women and, ultimately, for the establishment of a public inquiry. I am also mindful that many of these organizations have limited resources and their involvement in this Commission may provide a unique opportunity for their voices and perspectives to be heard,” he said.

The limited participants are organizations primarily focused on the policy issues of the Commission’s mandate. Most are experienced political or policy organizations that have demonstrated a long standing commitment to many of the policy issues the Commission will confront. They have worked for policy or legal reform, represented or advocated special interests in governmental or political arenas, conducted research and published studies or engaged in public education.

“These groups will be extremely valuable in assisting the Commission make recommendations for missing women and homicide investigations and the coordination of investigations by multiple police forces,” said Mr. Oppal.

He noted that in other commissions, it might not be appropriate to grant these policy groups status to participate in the evidentiary hearings at all. However, the subject matter of the Missing Women Inquiry had caused him to find there is a different, but important role for these applicants to play in the evidentiary hearings.

The creation of two levels of participation best achieves the objective of the Commission: to explore fully all of the issues from multiple perspectives in a timely manner.

“While the Commission wishes to be as inclusive as possible in considering these many applications, we also must have a hearing process that will support the Commission in its need to be both thorough and timely,” said Mr. Oppal.

He added that he fully expects the limited participants also to play a leading role in the study portion of the inquiry. In particular, the First Nations and Aboriginal applicants accepted as limited participants are in a position to offer unique policy advice as to the future conduct of missing women investigations, particularly given the disproportionate number of Aboriginal women reported missing.

Full participants are:
• Vancouver Police Department and Vancouver Police Board
• Government of Canada
• Criminal Justice Branch
• Families of Dawn Crey, Cara Ellis, Cynthia Dawn Feliks, Marnie Frey, Helen Mae Hallmark, Georgina Papin, Dianne Rock and Mona Wilson as represented by A. Cameron Ward
• Vancouver Police Union
• Coalition of Sex Worker-Serving Organizations
• The Committee of the February 14 Women’s Memorial March and the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre
• Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users, Walk4Justice and Frank Paul Society
• Native Women’s Association of Canada
• Dr. Kim Rossmo

Limited participants are:
• BC Civil Liberties Association, Amnesty International and PIVOT Legal Society
• Ending Violence Association of BC and West Coast LEAF
• Assembly of First Nations
• Carrier Sekani Tribal Council and the Union of BC Indian Chiefs
• Women’s Equality & Security Coalition
• Native Courtworker and Counselling Association of BC
• First Nations Summit
• CRAB – Water for Life Society

Mr. Oppal recommended financial support for the following full participants:
• The Families as represented by A. Cameron Ward
• Coalition of Sex Worker-Serving Organizations
• The Committee of the February 14 Women’s Memorial March and the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre
• Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users, Walk4Justice and Frank Paul Society
• Native Women’s Association of Canada
• Dr. Kim Rossmo

He recommended funding for the following limited participants:
• BC Civil Liberties Association, Amnesty International and PIVOT Legal Society
• Ending Violence Association of BC and West Coast LEAF
• Assembly of First Nations
• Carrier Sekani Tribal Council and the Union of BC Indian Chiefs
• Women’s Equality & Security Coalition
• Native Courtworker and Counselling Association of BC
• First Nations Summit

The Missing Women Commission of Inquiry was appointed by the British Columbia provincial government last year to inquire into the conduct of police investigations of women reported missing from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside between January 23, 1997 and February 5, 2002. The Commission’s terms of reference also allow it to inquire into the investigation of missing women and suspected multiple murders throughout the province.

In addition, the Commission will examine the decision by the B.C. Criminal Justice Branch on January 27, 1998 to stop legal proceedings against Robert William Pickton on charges of attempted murder, assault with a weapon, forcible confinement and aggravated assault.

The Commission’s mandate includes a “hearing” commission and a “study” commission. A study commission is less formal than a hearing commission and tends to focus more on research, the gathering of information and the discussion of policy issues. It is not adversarial, questions are posed to participants by the commission counsel and the commissioner, and there is no cross examination. Groups and individuals that that want to participate in the study commission need not apply for standing.

The inquiry’s study commission forums are expected to begin in Northern B.C. in mid-June. The hearing commission’s legal proceedings are expected to begin later in the year.

Mr. Oppal’s full ruling on participation has been posted on the Commission’s website at www.missingwomeninquiry.ca under the “Rulings” tab.

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March 28, 2011 – Study Commission added to Missing Women Inquiry

VANCOUVER – The B.C. government has amended the terms of reference for the missing women commission of inquiry to add a study commission, Attorney General Barry Penner announced today.

Commissioner Wally Oppal had requested the terms of reference be revised to make the inquiry a joint study and hearing commission.

Study commissions may conduct research and consult with participants or the public by receiving oral and written submissions. Legal standing is not necessary, making study commissions a cost-effective way to obtain research data and submissions.

Hearing commissions investigate and make findings of fact in matters where there is the possibility of a finding of misconduct.

The hearing commission, announced Sept. 28, 2010, will continue to be dedicated to 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. Formal hearings, open to the public, will be held in Vancouver. The hearing commission is currently reviewing applications from groups seeking legal standing to appear.

Oppal’s report is scheduled to be submitted to the attorney general by or before Dec. 31. 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.

Quote:

Attorney General Barry Penner –

“The study commission will provide more information for the commission, while ensuring the police investigations regarding Robert Pickton are fully examined to determine if proper procedures were followed, and whether improvements can and should be made in any future investigations of missing women and suspected multiple homicides.”

Contact:

Dave Townsend

Senior Public Affairs Officer

Ministry of Attorney General

250 387-4962

250 889-5945 (cell)

Connect with the Province of B.C. at: www.gov.bc.ca/connect

March 3, 2011 – Missing Women Commission Provides Status Report, Recommends Broader Mandate to Address Community Concerns

The Missing Women Commission of Inquiry has recommended to the B.C. provincial government that its mandate be broadened to include a study commission so that it can provide a better opportunity for participation by groups and individuals who wish to focus on the policy issues related to missing and murdered women.

In a Status Report published today, Commissioner Wally Oppal, Q.C., said a joint study and hearing commission will enable the Commission to craft a more focused, but still thorough hearing process while ensuring that both processes are procedurally fair.

“In the result, I believe the Commission may be able to more efficiently fulfill its various mandates,” said Mr. Oppal.

A “study” commission is less formal than a “hearing” commission and tends to focus more on research, the gathering of information and the discussion of policy issues. It is not adversarial, questions are posed to participants by commission counsel and the commissioner, and there is no cross examination.

Mr. Oppal believes a study commission is a more appropriate forum than the hearing commission for communities to raise concerns and make submissions, and for the discussion of the type of policy issues that have been raised in community meetings and in the media regarding missing and murdered women.

He said community feedback over the past few months has made it clear that:
• The Commission’s process should be accessible and community-driven rather than adversarial;
• Vulnerable and marginalized individuals should not be discouraged or made to feel excluded by an overly formalized process;
• The emotional needs of the victims’ families should be respected and supported;
• Aboriginal groups should be consulted in a manner that is culturally sensitive; and
• The northern communities affected by the ongoing Highway of Tears investigation should be given an opportunity to participate in the Commission’s activities.

“The additional powers of a study commission would allow us to address the concerns of the community by giving the Commission increased flexibility over its process, including the ability to engage directly with the public outside of the formal hearing process,” said Mr. Oppal.

He added that a study commission could also provide an opportunity for participation by groups and individuals who may not strictly meet the test for standing in the hearing commission.

In view of his recommendation to establish a joint study and hearing commission, Mr. Oppal said he has decided to defer his decision on applications for standing from groups and individuals who want to participate in the Commission’s hearings until he receives a response from the government.

Mr. Oppal heard applications for standing from 18 groups and individuals on January 31. He had earlier granted standing to four groups that have a clear legal interest in the Commission’s work.

He said it is clear that some applicants for standing have a stronger interest in policy issues. A study commission could be a better forum for groups that do not want full participation in the evidentiary process of the hearing commission.

The Braidwood Commission into the death of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski after he was tasered by an RCMP officer at Vancouver International Airport in October 2007 was a study and hearing commission. The study phase focused on the use of tasers in B.C. by police forces other than the RCMP. It resulted in a report that included 19 recommendations to the provincial government regarding the appropriate use of tasers by law enforcement agencies in the province.

Mr. Oppal’s full Status Report is available in the Reports and Publications section on the Commission’s website at www.missingwomeninquiry.ca

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January 16, 2011 – Members of the Public Encouraged to Attend Missing Women Commission of Inquiry Community Engagement Forums This Week

 

The Missing Women Commission of Inquiry community engagement forums scheduled for Vancouver and Prince George this week will give the public an opportunity to provide input into the Inquiry’s work, Commissioner Wally Oppal said today.

“The main purpose of the community forums is to help me and the Commission staff understand the full impact on communities of the tragedy of the murdered and missing women. We will then be able to focus our work during the public hearings much more clearly on the most important issues,” said Mr. Oppal.

The Vancouver forum is this Wednesday (January 19) from 4:00 p.m. ‑ 7:00 p.m. at the Japanese Language School, 487 Alexander Street, Vancouver. The Prince George Forum will be on Friday (January 21) from 4:00 p.m. ‑ 7:00 p.m. at the Prince George Civic Centre, 808 Civic Plaza.

While the forums are open to anyone who wishes to attend, Mr. Oppal said he is particularly interested in hearing from family members of the murdered and missing women and other people who were directly impacted by the tragedy.

“We know that a disproportionate number of the missing and murdered women were from the Aboriginal community and we definitely want to hear from that community, but we would also appreciate representatives of other communities coming forward to tell us their stories,” he said.

Mr. Oppal said he would spend some time at the start of each forum describing the role of the Commission and clarifying its terms of reference. “As I’ve said previously, I hope to encourage feedback that can be realistically covered within the Commission’s mandate,” said Mr. Oppal.

He added that the community engagement forums would not take the place of formal hearings of the Commission, which will begin in Vancouver later this year.

The Commission will hold two days of public hearings in Vancouver on January 31 and February 1 to hear presentations from most of the 21 groups that have applied for standing to participate in the inquiry. The sole purpose of these two days of hearings is to determine whether or not applications for standing will be permitted.

The hearings will take place at 12th floor, 1125 Howe Street from 10:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Based on written applications, Mr. Oppal has already granted standing to the Department of Justice (representing the RCMP), the City of Vancouver (representing the Vancouver Police Department), Crown Counsel for the province of British Columbia and the family members of the Downtown Eastside victims as represented by Mr. Cameron Ward.

A list of the applicants has been posted on the Commission’s website – www.missingwomeninquiry.ca

The Missing Women Commission of Inquiry was appointed by the British Columbia provincial government to inquire into the conduct of police investigations of women reported missing from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside between January 23, 1997 and February 5, 2002. The Commission’s terms of reference also allow it to inquire into the investigation of missing women and suspected multiple murders throughout the province.

Specifically, the Commission will examine the decision by the B.C. Criminal Justice Branch on January 27, 1998 to stop legal proceedings against Robert William Pickton on charges of attempted murder, assault with a weapon, forcible confinement and aggravated assault.

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