VANCOUVER EASTSIDE MISSING WOMEN
Dozens of murdered women deserve inquiry extension, say NDP
BY ELAINE O'CONNOR, THE PROVINCE MARCH 29, 2012
The government’s Missing Women Commission of Inquiry into the murder of dozens of women is getting shortchanged when compared to the inquiry into the four-minute Tasering of Robert Dziekanski that was granted an extension, advocates say.
New Democrat leader Adrian Dix joined MLA Jenny Kwan and family members of the women murdered by serial killer Robert Pickton Thursday to plead for more time for the Inquiry to do its work.
“The issues brought forward at this inquiry are some of the most important faced in our province,” Dix told reporters at a press conference at the NDP’s downtown Vancouver office, backing the families’ call for a six-month extension.
“Issues of poverty, issues of racism and inequality, issues of conduct and how we deal with crime. All of those issues are here at this inquiry. And I think it is fair to say that so far...the inquiry has not met that test.”
Dix added that the voices of the Downtown Eastside and aboriginal communities need to be heard and “that’s why the official opposition thinks that there absolutely...needs to be an extension in the time of the inquiry.”
Kwan, the NDP representative for Vancouver-Mount Pleasant, argued that the Braidwood inquiry — which examined the Tasering of one victim, Dziekanski, during a four-minute incident — was granted an extension. She reasoned that the commission’s complex case involving dozens of victims and spanning a decade at minimum deserves the same treatment.
The inquiry formally began in October 2011 to help determine why it took police so long to catch the man preying on women in the Downtown Eastside.
Pickton was arrested in 2002 although the murders date back to the 1990s. In 2007 Pickton was convicted of six of the murders, with another 20 murder counts stayed.
In March, lawyer Robyn Gervais resigned from the commission, citing concerns that aboriginal interests were not represented. Commissioner Wally Oppal adjourned the hearings until April 2 to find a replacement. Oppal previously had asked for a year-long extension and was granted six months, until April 30. His final report is due June 30.
However, B.C. Attorney-General Shirley Bond says the inquiry will not be extended.
Family member Lillianne Beaudoin, sister of Dianne Rock who was found on Pickton’s farm in 2002, said her hopes that the inquiry could put her unanswered questions to rest have faded over time.
“This inquiry has been called to investigate the most significant serial murder case in Canadian history,” she said. “Yet this inquiry is facing a rapidly approaching deadline of April 30 with much work left to do, many stones left to uncover, and many questions left to answer.”
Lori-Ann Ellis, sister-in-law of Cara Ellis, whose remains were also found on the farm, said that the inquiry must be extended because “the voices of the Downtown Eastside and aboriginal communities must be heard as well.”
Ellis was deeply concerned that the limited time frame that’s left impedes the ability of the remaining 31 witnesses to share their testimony, whereas police have been afforded several months to testify.
“We cannot accept that this inquiry that we fought so hard for could be cut short before it has completed its important mandate,” she said.
“Our loved ones were victimized by a serial killer in life and victimized by a failed police investigation after death. Let them not be further victimized by a failed public inquiry that does nothing to prevent a similar tragedy from recurring.”
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Updated: August 21, 2016