Yesterday afternoon, Cheryl Tobias and Sean Hern, counsel for the RCMP and VPD respectively, joined in a prolonged submission seeking an order from Commissioner Oppal that “there be no publication or broadcast by any means, including on the internet or through social media, of…any information that could reveal the identity of any living person identified as an actual or potential victim, witness, suspect or accused.”  The only exception would be thirteen people on a list they submitted.  We have been assured that an order will not be made until we have a chance to respond.

To put this matter into context, the RCMP and VPD have already vetted all the documents that they have produced to the Commission and heavily redacted them pursuant to a protocol reached between their counsel and Commission Counsel, without any prior consultation with us.  In order for us to access the redacted documents, we were obliged to sign an “Undertaking of Counsel” preventing us from discussing or disclosing the material except under strict conditions.  Yesterday morning we learned that counsel for the RCMP intends to vet the redacted documents again and redact them further before they are disclosed to the public in the inquiry process. 

The police are clearly intending to keep a tight lid on any information that is disclosed not only to us as counsel, but to the public. They seem to want to manage and package this story, and disclose only what they want the public to hear.  We perceive that such an approach is contrary to the purpose and intent of a public inquiry and intend to resist any measure that unduly restricts free expression rights or that prevents our clients from learning the truth.  We will use every means at our disposal to pry the lid off this case and help the Commission to ferret out all facts relating to the investigations of the disappearances and murders of Vancouver women. 

On another related front, we have repeatedly expressed our concerns about the adequacy of police document disclosure to date.  We feel that they have barely scratched the surface and that many pertinent records remain undisclosed.  Our application for further and better disclosure is pending.