Although the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry is not sitting this week (the courtroom is unavailable), things are happening behind the scenes. Other participants have objected to our attempts to have Det. Cst. Lori Shenher’s book marked as an exhibit and to our attempts to have the expert opinion of Dennis Murray, Q.C. admitted into evidence. The Commission has requested written submissions on these points and disagreed with our position that oral submissions should be made in the public hearings. As this Commission of Inquiry is intended to be public in nature, we are posting our brief reply submission below.

The Commission has advised us that there will be six more hearing days (May 9, 11, 14-17) before final submissions are delivered and has indicated that it will be putting 19 witnesses on the stand then.

Attorney General/Solicitor General/Minister of Justice Shirley Bond has advised our clients that the Commission has not requested an extension of time to deliver its report. We have pressed for an extension on the basis that there are a number of witnesses that need to be heard from and that the rush to get the hearings over with is unseemly, unfair and offensive.




These submissions are made on behalf of the families of Dianne Rock, Georgina Papin, Marnie Frey, Cynthia Dawn Feliks, Cara Ellis, Mona Wilson, Helen May Hallmark, Dawn Crey, Angela Hazel Williams, Jacqueline Murdock, Brenda Wolfe, Andrea Joesbury, Elsie Sebastian, Heather Bottomley, Andrea Borhaven, Tiffany Drew, Angela Jardine, Stephanie Lane, Tanya Holyk, Olivia Williams, Debra Jones, Janet Henry, Maria Laura Laliberte, Serena Abotsway, and Diana Melnick (the “Families”) in reply to the submissions of the participants who have objected to marking Exhibit “BB”, a written manuscript prepared for publication by Det. Cst. Shenher in 2002-2003, as an exhibit.

Exhibit “BB” is indistinguishable from at least 34 other witness statements that have already been adduced in evidence and marked as exhibits. In fact, it is better evidence, because it was prepared earlier than most of those exhibits were.

It is respectfully submitted that there is no principled reason why the Commission should not mark Exhibit “BB” with a number and consider it as part of the body of evidence to be weighed in fulfilling its fact-finding mandate.

It is trite that the strict evidentiary rules of evidence do not apply to this Commission. The Commissioner has asserted that the test of admissibility is whether the evidence may be of assistance to him.

E.g., Transcript, April 10, 2012, p. 10, ll. 19-21

Lori Shenher, a former journalist who became the lead VPD investigator in the missing women investigation, wrote a nearly three hundred page first person account of her experience on the investigation with the intention of publishing it as a book. Read as a whole, it is a candid, unvarnished description of the sexist, male-dominated dysfunctional culture within the ranks of the VPD that prevented her and her female supervisor from adequately investigating Robert William Pickton’s role in the disappearances. Her observation that her male VPD colleagues “wouldn’t have pissed on these women if they were on fire” speaks volumes. Det. Cst. Shenher’s account stands in marked contrast to Deputy Chief LePard’s selective, revisionist historical account released for public consumption eight years after the fact.

Shenher’s manuscript will assist us in making final submissions to the Commission on behalf of the Families and in framing suggested recommendations so future cases are handled differently. More importantly, it will be of great assistance to the Commission, with counsel’s input, in understanding why the investigations were handled so poorly by the VPD. It meets this Commission’s test for admissibility.

It is understandable that the objections to marking Exhibit “BB” as an exhibit are so vociferous. After all, the damning document’s very existence was denied or covered up for some eight years and Shenher’s counsel, VPD counsel and Commission counsel inexplicably failed to disclose the manuscript despite our November, 2011 request for records relating to it. It only surfaced after we put questions to Shenher when she was on the witness stand in January of this year.

The Families submit that Shenher’s account, in its entirety, finally be made part of the public record respecting this tragic and scandalous case. The public interest demands it.



Cameron Ward