Pickton Inquiry 'has failed,' lawyer argues
Cameron Ward delivers scathing appraisal of inquiry in
The Canadian Press
June 4, 2012
A lawyer representing families of Robert Pickton's victims has denounced a
public inquiry as a failure, arguing it didn't hear enough evidence to determine
why the serial killer was able to murder with impunity.
Cameron Ward, who represents the families of more than two dozen missing and
murdered women, says the inquiry neglected to hear from a number of crucial
witnesses and allowed the police to decide which evidence and documents to
"This commission has failed to uncover the true reasons why this enormous
tragedy was allowed to happen and exactly how it was that the criminal justice
system utterly failed these women and their families," Cameron Ward, who
represents the families of more than two dozen missing and murdered women, told
the inquiry during his final submissions Monday.
"My clients are disappointed, discouraged and, most of all, angry at the way
this commission has unfolded. They feel this commission has perpetuated the
attitude of indifference and disrespect that they themselves first experienced
when they reported their loved ones missing."
Because of that, Ward says the families have no confidence commissioner Wally
Oppal will get to the bottom of the police failures that allowed Pickton to
murder sex workers for years before he was finally caught.
Ward says Oppal ceded to an unfair deadline imposed by the provincial
government, rushing through witnesses and skipping others, including numerous
police officers involved in the Pickton investigation.
Alleges police controlled inquiry
He says the police were given too much control over the inquiry process,
refusing to disclose hundreds of thousands of documents.
Ward says the evidence the inquiry did hear showed police were negligent in
failing to investigate reports of missing women, and that a police culture of
disdain towards sex workers was partly to blame.
Ward had an hour to sum up more than half a year of testimony as the inquiry
entered its final week, and he used much of that time to list off what he argued
were the failures of the process and of commissioner Wally Oppal.
Outside the inquiry, Ward's clients could barely contain their distaste for the
inquiry and for Oppal, a former judge and one-time Liberal attorney general.
"I'm so pissed off, this is totally unfair," said Cynthia Cardinal, whose sister
Georgina Papin was among the women Pickton was convicted of killing.
"This is an injustice."
The families have not forgotten that it was Oppal who, as attorney general,
broke the news in 2008 that Pickton may not stand trial for 20 outstanding
By then, Pickton had already been convicted of six counts of second-degree
murder and prosecutors were waiting to deal with an additional 20 charges until
after his appeals had run out. At the time, Oppal said if the convictions were
upheld, a second trial wouldn't be in the public interest.
The inquiry began last October and has heard from dozens of witnesses, including
current and former police officers, relatives of the missing women, advocates
and service providers in the Downtown Eastside and academics.
Closing submissions from various participants, including the Vancouver police
and the RCMP, are scheduled to wrap up on Wednesday.
After that Oppal has until Oct. 31 to produce a report that will include
recommendations to prevent a similar tragedy in the future.
Last week, Oppal received a four-month extension to write his report, which
was previously due on June 30.
Pickton was arrested in February 2002 and convicted in December 2007 of the six
counts of second-degree murder.
The remains or DNA of 33 women were found on his farm. He once told an
undercover police officer that he killed 49.