Petition opposes Wally Oppal as head of missing women inquiry

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      Petitioners are seeking support for the removal of former attorney general Wally Oppal as commissioner of the murdered and missing women inquiry.

      More than 130 names have been added to the online version of the new petition, which is also circulating offline in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside neighbourhood.

      The petition calls on B.C.’s solicitor general to find a replacement for Oppal as commissioner of the provincial inquiry.

      It also calls for Downtown Eastside community members to have more influence on the inquiry process.

      The petition says Oppal has ties to potential inquiry witnesses and that he defended the investigation of convicted serial killer Robert Pickton.

      It also says Oppal opposed a public inquiry and was attorney general when 20 murder charges were stayed against Pickton.

      In addition, it raises questions about perceptions Oppal is partisan because has been a B.C. Liberal candidate.

      Oppal has previously rejected criticism about his impartiality.

      Harsha Walia, an activist and petition supporter, said the signature drive was launched January 26 by an ad hoc group of Downtown Eastside women.

      “It really just came out of people being extremely frustrated at how the inquiry process has happened,” Walia told the Straight by phone.

      She said there is outrage over how the inquiry process is “totally removed from the Downtown Eastside community” and how “it feels like it’s a process that’s essentially being rushed in order to say that an inquiry happened”.

      Earlier this month, public forums were held in Prince George and Vancouver to hear from those affected by the disappearances and deaths of women.

      The inquiry is to look into how police investigated the disappearances of women from the Downtown Eastside between January 1997 and February 2002, when Pickton was arrested.

      It is also to examine why charges were stayed against Pickton in 1998 after a sex trade worker was assaulted.

      Formal inquiry hearings are expected to start later this year and a report is due before the end of 2011.

      Oppal’s appointment as commissioner was announced in September 2010.

      Comments

      14 Comments

      East Van Arts

      Jan 27, 2011 at 5:53pm

      For the sake of his own reputation, Mr Oppal should step down. Regardless of what he says or does, the fundamental fact of conflict of interest has poisoned this inquiry from the outset.

      If he is concerned about his honour, he must know that he cannot redeem himself. No matter what he may feel, the public feels otherwise.

      Mr Oppal's objectivity is hopelessly contaminated by his Liberal past, affiliations, and partisanship. He may imagine that his former work as a judge insulates him. It does not. His Liberal affiliations cannot be undone. That history cannot be re-written.

      Mr Oppal was foolish to accept the appointment. Mr Campbell was stupid to make it.

      For the same reasons that the public does not trust the police to investigate themselves, no one has confidence in Mr Oppal investigating the missing women tragedy.

      If the BC Liberals wanted a truly objective and disinterested enquiry, they would have appointed a distinguished and non-partisan jurist from another province, one with no connections to Mr Oppal's political party. This stone-headedness cost Mr Campbell his job.

      It is soon to cost Mr Oppal his reputation. He really should know better.

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      glen p robbins

      Jan 27, 2011 at 6:54pm

      Just watched A news on Vancouver Island (BC) where Children and Families Minister Mary Ellen-Turpel Lafond was talking about how disastrous the record is on child poverty in the province of BC - consistent over the past decade of Campbell government.

      Christy Clark was campaigning on the Island--she had quit politics from Children and Families and was asked about the bad news - Clark said 'good jobs are a good start'. Her clip followed a clip showing an infant being taken out of a less than than desirable motel room.

      People we have hit rock bottom in politics in BC --

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      Strong New Democrat

      Jan 27, 2011 at 8:14pm

      Glen P. - you just said it for me... Sad Day

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      skippy

      Jan 28, 2011 at 10:19am

      So was the record of the NDP on child poverty better??? Did income and wealth of children plummet in 2001 after risisng under Glen Clarke and Mike Harcourt?? An infant being taken out of a less than desireable hotel... where were the parents??

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      Just Wondering

      Jan 28, 2011 at 2:19pm

      Good luck with the petition but my concern is that until we remove the Liberals from office we will only be ignored.

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      glen p robbins

      Jan 28, 2011 at 3:42pm

      Skippy - to give some perspective as to the distance that Christy Clark is out of touch with reality -- I introduce the example on local TV the other day of a street person who when interviewed said he had been working hard to get off the street and into housing - and had been going at this for 7 months. He was sincere and well spoken in my opinion.

      Christy's "good jobs" as the solution relative to a dead infant - emerging from an undesirable hotel -- is as far apart in reality as Mars is to Planet BC. Are you serious with where are the parents?

      This is your response? I bet you don't mean that

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      skippy

      Jan 28, 2011 at 4:58pm

      gpr -- just watched the clip on the web. Yes I do mean where were the parents. As noted on Mary Ellen-Turpel Lafond 's website, parents and immediate family bear primary responsibility. You have assumed, that the child died of because of some form of parental neglect (quite rightly so). So do we hold parents in such acses to a lesser standard? Are they free of parental responsibility? More likely there was substance abuse involved. I say that not to racial stereotype ( 15 of the 21 children in the study were first nations infant) but because the despair of addiction ( also an illness) is the only thing I can think of that would cause a person to let their child die (that and mental iilness). I am not a Christy Clark supporter but you infer her response was to a question about the child's death when in fact we do not hear the question posed by the reporter.I guess what I find objectionable is the political exploitation of 21 dead children and glib skeweed comments to that effect.

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      glen p robbins

      Jan 28, 2011 at 6:31pm

      No Skippy you are wrong. You are dead wrong. There are messed up parents in rich and poor houses. But when there is no food - no shelter - AND the parents are messed up, this is when the state must be there.

      Government's job isn't to pander to business or to give it subsidies. Government's job is to look after those who can't look after themselves, make sure of the health and welfare of the citizens and provide an environment conducive for business and families who generate the monies so that government can help those who are particularly unfortunate and who cannot fend for themselves, a classification which would include infant in my opinion.

      The first priority of any leader - the sign of a great leader - is not the one who travels the easy road to move forward - but who reaches down deep where it isn't pretty and says "I am going to make this better".

      Calling it exploitation for a blogstream is beyond offensive. My evidence of this is the Children and Families minister before Polak who when asked why Canada was last or second to last on child poverty -- answered "we're close".

      Skippy - who is we? - you come off as much too close to this-----it is an objectionable and indefensible response - and it's fair political fodder because this is the Ministry from which Christy Clark departed politics.

      If it is ignored - its because media here is part of the pr machine

      As far as professional political science - it is a major gaffe and worthy of scrutiny. If "We" don't know what was asked - then why don't "We" find out -?

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      monty (that's me)

      Jan 29, 2011 at 5:28am

      It is a blatant conflict of interest for Waffling Wally to head this inquiry since he was AG at the time of the Picton trial. The only thing this man knows how to say is "I can't comment as the matter is before the courts" a mantra adopted by all the fellow travellers.

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      Second Nation

      Jan 31, 2011 at 12:43pm

      I am sadened by the racist opposition to Oppal. I thought we were part of a more enlightened society.

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