B.C. NDP calls for public inquiry after Supreme Court of Canada upholds Robert Pickton's convictions

The NDP critic for the solicitor general and public safety says the B.C. government should order a public inquiry into the investigation of the missing women.

Mike Farnworth, the MLA for Port Coquitlam, told the Straight by phone that a formal probe of this nature would enhance the criminal-justice system and make it more functional in the future.

"There have been so many missing women in this province, particularly out of the Downtown Eastside and Vancouver," Farnworth said. "Clearly, we know that there were mistakes made, especially at the beginning of this investigation. I think it's important not only to the families but to the public as well to know what happened."

Farnworth added that he was relieved by the Supreme Court of Canada's ruling today (July 30), which upheld Pickton's conviction on six counts of second-degree murder. The Crown has not proceeded on 20 other charges of first-degree murder.

"I think people in Port Coquitlam are feeling the same as people right across the country, who followed this," he said. "He is going to be behind bars and he will never get out. I think people are relieved by that."

NDP attorney general critic Leonard Krog told the Straight that a public inquiry is "entirely appropriate" because there are so many lessons to be learned about how the Pickton investigation was handled.

"The families deserve to know what happened," Krog said. "British Columbians deserve to know what happened. It is a way of honouring the many victims of Mr. Pickton and a way of hopefully educating the police in the future about recognizing the horror, the very horror, that the Pickton case represents before someone like him gets an opportunity to commit this many multiple murders."

Krog described the story of the missing women as "a long, grim, sad story".

"It will be painful for many to relive this through a public inquiry," he added. "But the benefits outweigh everything else, and it should be undertaken."

Premier Gordon Campbell was mayor of Vancouver from 1986 to 1993. In that capacity, he chaired the Vancouver police board when some women went missing from the Downtown Eastside.

Farnworth said that he had no concerns about Campbell participating in any decision on whether or not to order a public inquiry.

"This is a cabinet decision," Farnworth said. "The attorney general's advice is what would be important on this. So I think that what's important is that an inquiry is called."

Farnworth declined to offer a ballpark estimate on the cost of a public inquiry. "I understand the concerns that people have," he said. "I think there are ways you could probably mitigate the costs."

He suggested that expenses could be limited in an inquiry by focusing on ways of improving the system, rather than by assigning blame.

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Salty one

Jul 31, 2010 at 10:30am

The police want an inquiry and so do the families but the province doesn't. The question then is who among them does it threaten enough not to hold one? Strange considering this predates their time in office.

The biggest things to come out of the inquiry will likely be the lack of cooperation between the VPD and RCMP in the beginning, and the attitude of them towards the missing women's demographic. No one cared about them, least of all them. It's not that Pickton was some mastermind serial killer. He was just hunting on grounds that no one cared to watch over.

That cop who recently pushed that woman down on the DES, that contemptuous attitude isn't singular. It's rife in the institution and always was. You see in the postings here too.

The families shouldnt' have to wait for 20 years for a public inquiry to start the way they did the investigation. Get on with it.

Now the public has to brace for the complete story of what actually happened to the victims on Pickton's farm. That's been shielded by the courts thus far but I suspect no more.


Aug 1, 2010 at 12:36am

Photo op!


Aug 1, 2010 at 10:29am

Gee Salty One, I take it you don't like the police. Try to not let your prejudice affect your outlook. I personally think the police in Vancouver do a pretty damn good job considering they have to put up with hateful citizens that have no concept of the hatred and ignorance they face every day. When the police approach someone, they have to ALWAYS be on guard since they don't know if the person they are approaching is law abiding or a psycho bent on violence. How would you like to have a job that keeps you in a constant state of tension? And just what good would an inquiry do? It would just be a waste of time, money, and resources. Another opportunity for politicians and lawyers to make money off the government - and yes, photo ops. Look at all the time wasted on the Air India inquiry. Can you really say any good has come from that fiasco? I sympathize with the families of the victims of Robert Pinckton, but would it really do any good to know "the complete story of what happened to the victim's"? Sounds like morbid curiosity to me. What would you have the police do - stand on each corner and keep an eye on the prostitutes and johns? That would be great for business, and then the police would be accused of harassment. So we're back to the police doing the best they can under tough circumstances. For all you haters, try walking a mile in their shoes.

David L.

Aug 1, 2010 at 7:33pm

Absolutely a waste of tax dollars, nothing will be accomplished by a rehash of the tragedy,these women were the architects of there own downfall, not that I agree with what happened as I do not , Picton and the like should be put down as in terminated forever,
Darn it why dont we have the death penalty ?

The only ones that give a damn about ordinary people

Aug 2, 2010 at 2:26pm

The NDP are the last hope for this province and sadly Carol is a former Liberal. We need some real leadership like Harcourt or Clark. These neocons are given a free ride by the press to run roughshod over our province.