I ask myself almost every day whether the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry is worth the cost.

I’m not speaking about the monetary cost of the inquiry to the taxpayers.  Much has already been said and written by others on this subject and the public will ultimately pass judgment on this question.  For the record, I felt that the social benefits of a thorough, searching and independent inquiry outweighed the economic costs.  After all, some $200 million of public money was spent on police and legal work in the Pickton prosecution.  If the authorities had responded to the women’s disappearances earlier and more effectively, then arguably most of that sum would have been saved.  Even though this Commission has spent some $4 million of taxpayers’ funds so far, the cost of the inquiry will still be a drop in the proverbial bucket.  Maybe the money would be better spent on trying to improve the lives of those in need…again, others can be the judge of that.

What I am speaking of here are the personal and professional costs of being involved in such a complex and difficult matter.  Lawyers often get a bad rap, and some of them may even deserve it.  I think critics overlook the sacrifices lawyers make when they take on such difficult and time-consuming matters on behalf of their clients.  Conscientious lawyers may spend almost every waking hour working on or thinking about the case, harming their personal relationships, their practice and their mental and physical health.  There is always more work to be done because preparing for a hearing is a lot like cramming for a perpetual final exam. 

When the mountain of documentary evidence to be mastered is enormous, when the time allotted for preparation is inadequate, when one never knows what surprises the next day will bring, when professional courtesies are abandoned and personal vitriolic attacks become routine, and when the task of advancing the clients’ interests in seeking the truth appears to be virtually impossible, one really has to wonder….