B.C. criticized for halting missing women inquiry reports

Justice Minister Suzanne Anton pledges to resume progress reporting

The province will resume public progress reports on the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry.

The provincial government had halted reports in 2014, just two years after then-Commissioner Wally Oppal issued his 62 recommendations.

Oppal’s 2012 report found gaping holes in the work of Vancouver Police and RCMP in their investigations into the murders of women from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

Many of these women were aboriginal and many worked as sex workers in the Downtown Eastside. Coquitlam pig farmer Robert Pickton was charged with second-degree murder of six of those women in 2007. Charges for 20 more cases were stayed in 2010. Pickton is service a life sentence with no possibility of parole for 25 years.

The recommendation to continue reporting came from Auditor General Carol Bellringer in a report released Thursday.

Auditor General Final Report on Missing Women Commission on Inquiry

“There was an indication that [the province] felt the progress was significant enough not to have that kind of report… we would suggest otherwise,” said Bellringer.

Justice Minister Suzanne Anton said that since Oppal’s 2012 report involved so many different organizations, the government had left the reporting up to them.

“The work is not done and continues, for example with the missing persons work, the work on policing, all those pieces of work continue and they’re done through work with stakeholders and they report out in their component parts,” Anton said.

“But we’ve heard the auditor general and she is expressing an interest in the community that we do more comprehensive reporting so we will be doing that.”

A report will be issued in 2017, she added.

Neither Anton nor Public Safety Safety Minister Mike Morris were able to answer questions on whether the province would establish the regional Vancouver-area police force that Oppal recommended in 2012.

“We’ve got some great examples of how integrated policing works with Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit (CFSEU) and the Integrated Homicide Investigations Unit (IHIT) and with a number of other integrated units there and I want to explore how we can expand that to become even more effective with our policing in the province,” said Morris.

He noted systems like PRIME, a common record management database implemented by the province in the mid-2000s, had greatly improved information sharing since the Pickton days.

Bellringer said it was not her office’s place to comment on the whys of the province’s inaction towards a regional police force.

 

 

@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

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