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Galliford not testifying at the Missing Women inquiry

BY SUZANNE FOURNIER, THE PROVINCE  APRIL 23, 2012

The Missing Women Commission of Inquiry will not be hearing “key” evidence from an RCMP officer who was trusted with “the communications profiles for the two largest investigations in Canadian history.”

RCMP Cpl. Catherine Galliford, 44, was trained and paid to tell the truth, as seen by the RCMP, on Canada’s “two largest investigations,” she points out.

After handling Air India media relations for the RCMP, Galliford was hired by top brass in early 2001 to speak for the RCMP-VPD Missing Women Task Force.

She had top security clearance and access to internal briefings, yet told the media in a calm, professional manner only what the RCMP wanted them to know.

“Catherine Galliford would be a very important witness to call,” notes Jason Gratl, an independent inquiry lawyer for Downtown Eastside groups.

“Her evidence is key. The testimony of media officers is critical to the inquiry’s mandate yet it now appears clear we will hear from none of them.”

The Commission is slated to end formal hearings by early May and has deemed “irrelevant” mounting evidence of systemic sexism and bias within the RCMP.

Families of the missing and murdered women contend that sexism within the police task force that failed to catch serial killer Robert Pickton before he killed the 33 women whose DNA was found on his farm is highly relevant.

Galliford was interviewed by Commission counsel Karey Brooks months ago and has had a subpoena hanging over her head since the inquiry began.

Commission staff have told media that Galliford is “too fragile” to testify.

After leaving active duty with the RCMP four years ago, Galliford has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and is currently being treated at an Ontario facility that counsels many burned-out police officers.

Four years ago, Galliford took a leave from active duty, citing medical issues including over-dependence on alcohol and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

“In Catherine’s case, as with many other RCMP officers, I call it Post-Traumatic Growth — she’s a strong and effective voice, and at the inquiry it would be really, really important for the families of the missing and murdered women to hear her,” says former Mountie Dr. Mike Webster, now a psychologist who counsels police and other professionals.

“It would be valuable for sex-trade workers, and people in the Downtown Eastside, to hear her. She witnessed what went wrong within the RCMP and isn’t afraid to say so.”

Webster says Galliford’s evidence would have emphasized that sexism and disrespectful attitudes toward sex trade workers, and even toward female officers, by some RCMP and VPD officers, prevented police from catching Pickton sooner.

“That’s clearly within even the very narrow terms of reference of this inquiry,” Webster said.

After waiting months to be called, Galliford must be in Ontario for three more weeks. The inquiry’s formal hearings are slated to end by early May.

In interviews with The Province over the past several weeks, Galliford admitted the subpoena caused her much anxiety, although she had arranged for Webster to accompany her and was determined to tell all that she knew.

In a 115-page statement to the RCMP, Galliford said RCMP had “enough evidence for a search warrant” of serial killer Robert Pickton’s farm in 1999.

She also recalled that when she was still with Air India, she and another RCMP officer went for lunch at the Port Coquitlam golf course.

Media stories had started to highlight the missing women by then, and Galliford says her friend told her, “Well everyone knows it’s the pig farmer in Coquitlam.

“So we’re driving back and he drove by the farm and pointed it out to me. He said, ‘Yeah, you’re going to find some human remains right there.’”

Yet the Missing Women Task Force, headed by RCMP Insp. Don Adam, had no sense of urgency, knocked off work early and ignored key evidence about Pickton as a primary suspect, Galliford charged in interviews and her statement.

It wasn’t until RCMP finally got onto the farm in 2002, with an unrelated firearms search warrant that turned up evidence of the missing women, that Adam kicked into high gear and started calling in reinforcements, she claims.

On the stand at the inquiry in early March, Adam vehemently denied the allegations Galliford made in the media and in her RCMP statement.

“You could talk to people I’ve worked with and you would find a very different story,” Adam said.

Adam did admit that he did refer to his assignment initially as “the hooker task force,” but added that he “came to realize that just wasn’t the proper way to refer to sex trade workers.”

After Galliford’s RCMP statement of April 2011 was released, RCMP spokesman Sgt. Peter Thiessen said in an email to The Province that it would be “inappropriate to comment” while the inquiry is ongoing.

Thiessen said then that Galliford’s allegations are still under review.

Last week, the RCMP’s top commander in B.C., Deputy Commissioner Craig Callens, said more than 100 RCMP officers are being trained to investigate internal sexual harassment complaints.

sfournier@theprovince.com

 

 

Email: wleng#missingpeople.net 

Missing Women Tip Line: 1-877-687-3377

Updated: August 21, 2016