At the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry yesterday, Commissioner Oppal revealed Practice Directive No. 3, a procedural decision taken without seeking any consultation with or submissions from us, the counsel for the families of 25 missing and murdered women.  The directive imposes a fundamentally different process, one that will see witnesses appear in groups, on “panels”.  The radical new approach seems to be driven by the provincial government’s decision to compel the Commission to report to it by June 30, 2012.

When this inquiry was established, our clients hoped that it would finally provide them with the opportunity to seek out the true facts surrounding the Crown’s decision to stay charges against Robert William Pickton arising from his attempt to murder a Vancouver sex trade worker in March of 1997 and the impotent police investigations of him that ensued until he was serendipitously snared by an unrelated investigation on February 5, 2002.  In our opening remarks to the Commission on October 11, 2011, we pledged to assist the Commission in its mandate by helping to pry the lid off the scandal and expose all the evidence to public scrutiny. 

We knew our task would be challenging, but we still underestimated just how difficult it would prove to be.  We certainly didn’t anticipate being the subject of vitriolic personal attacks for trying to represent our clients’ interests by pursuing the truth.