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.