The BCCLA and Pivot Legal Society are calling for the removal of three Peel Regional Police officers who are advising the Missing Women’s Commission of Inquiry. News agencies have reported that some members of the Peel Regional Police force are currently being investigated by the RCMP. The organizations are of the view that for the commission to bring the Peel police officers on board as advisers puts in question the commission’s independence and impartiality.
“The Dziekanski and Frank Paul commissions in BC have already held that police should not be investigating police,” said Robert Holmes, Q.C., President of the BCCLA. “But the Missing Women’s inquiry has not only retained three police officers to investigate the police, but they have chosen police officers from a force that has members who are under investigation by the RCMP. This commission has repeatedly shown it has a tin ear for how its moves will play before the public. Steps like this fail to show sensitivity to the families and interested groups and fail to build confidence in whatever the inquiry reports and recommends.”
The RCMP investigated the case of Peel Regional officer Sheldon Cook, who was convicted last year of drug trafficking offences in Ontario. News agencies have reported that the RCMP is also investigating two Peel Regional police officers who testified as Crown witnesses at Cook’s trial.
“The imbalance between unlimited public funding of police and government agencies before this commission and the pittance in resources provided for families and interested groups is bad enough. But knowing that in addition to whatever police agencies provide to the commission in public hearings is being supplemented by what police advisers tell the commission in the background makes matters worse. It reinforces the growing perception that the government was not serious about this inquiry. That led to this commission getting off to a bad start and continuing to go in the wrong direction,” said Holmes. “How families of the missing and murdered women, marginalized women living on the Downtown Eastside, aboriginal groups, poverty groups and the public generally can be expected to have confidence in this inquiry is increasingly hard to see.”
Reports from the Commission indicate that the officers have been reviewing the entire primary document archive, and providing recommendations to the Commission. No aboriginal leaders or representatives of families of missing women or social advocacy groups have been brought in by the Commission for the same purpose.
Robert Holmes, Q.C., BCCLA President, (604) 681-1310
David Eby, BCCLA Executive Director, (604) 630-9753
Doug King, Pivot Legal Society, (778) 898-6349