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Election endorsements

April 30, 2013 in Opinion

I am of the view that it is in the public interest to have some lawyers sitting in the Legislature since it is, after all, the province’s law-making body.  I know each of the following candidates – David Eby, Jim Hanson, Leonard Krog and Andrew Wilkinson (listed in alphabetical order) – and can endorse each of them as worthy of receiving your vote.

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The Supreme Court of Canada heard arguments today in the case of Wood v. Schaeffer et al.  The case is summarized here and involves the police practice of having their notes vetted by legal counsel before releasing them to Ontario’s SIU, the body that investigates police conduct causing death or serious injury.  With any luck, Canada’s highest court will uphold the judgment of the Ontario Court of Appeal and put a stop to this practice.

The situation in British Columbia is similar, if not worse.  For example, when Jeffrey Berg was beaten and kicked to death by a Vancouver police officer in October of 2000, the homicide was investigated by his VPD colleagues.  The officer who killed Mr. Berg, along with the two other officers who were present when it happened, all visited the same lawyer after the incident, producing similar typed statements weeks later.  This deplorable practice has to stop if there is to be any measure of justice for the families of victims involved in these tragedies.

That is not to say there has been no improvement in this province.  We now have the Independent Investigation Office (IIO) so police-involved fatalities are no longer investigated by the police themselves.  The IIO has intervened in today’s appeal hearing, hoping that the Supreme Court’s decision establishes uniform national standards in this area.  We expect that judgment will be reserved and a decision rendered at a later date.

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The Supreme Court of British Columbia released this judgment in Ivan Henry’s civil case today.  The decision is latest in a series of procedural issues that have been dealt with as Mr. Henry’s case proceeds towards a trial date schediuled to begin in September of 2014.  Mr. Henry is seeking compensation from the governments of Canada and British Columbia, as well as the Vancouver police officers responsible for the investigation that led to his conviction and imprisonment some thirty years ago.  His convictions were overturned by the British Columbia Court of Appeal on October 27, 2010.

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