RCMP commissioner Bob Paulson got a free pass from missing women's inquiry, say lawyers
Oppal inquiry didn’t call Bob Paulson, even though his name was in the documents.
His name stands out among witnesses who weren’t called by the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry.
At the time when police forces were fumbling the hunt for the person preying on women working Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside strolls, he was the noncommissioned officer in charge of the RCMP’s southwest district major-crime section.
Then a sergeant, Bob Paulson is now the RCMP commissioner, and lawyers representing the families of these women wanted him on the witness stand. But the commission chaired by former B.C. attorney general Wally Oppal refused to summon Canada’s top Mountie.
In their final submission to the commission, lawyers Cameron Ward and Neil Chantler and researcher Robin Whitehead argue that the inquiry is incomplete because witnesses like Paulson weren’t summoned.
According to their filing, Paulson was “extensively involved in the missing women’s investigations”.
“His name appears hundreds of times in the documents disclosed to the Commission,” the submission states.
It also notes that in March 2000, then-sergeant Paulson and a staff sergeant approached then–chief superintendent Gary Bass of the RCMP’s E Division in B.C. “with a proposal to create a coordinated effort to review” unsolved homicides and the cases of the missing women. This was mentioned in a report for the Oppal commission by Deputy Chief Jennifer Evans of the Peel Regional Police.
Evans noted that the staff sergeant wrote a proposal that read in part that “at least 3 (three) serial killers are believed to be operating in BC at this time”.
It took almost a year before a so-called “Joint Forces Operation” was launched in connection with investigating the disappearances of the missing women.
In a phone interview with the Georgia Straight on August 22, Chantler indicated that lawyers for the families hoped to ask Paulson about this March 2000 meeting.
“We would have wanted to probe the circumstances and find out exactly what they exactly said and what discussions were had, and why efforts weren’t taken to form a JFO earlier in those circumstances,” Chantler said.
Robert Pickton, a pig farmer from Port Coquitlam, was eventually arrested in 2002. He was convicted in 2007 for the deaths of six women whose remains were found on the farm. The Crown eventually stayed charges against him for the deaths of 20 other women.
Paulson was sergeant in charge of the RCMP’s southwest district major-crime section from 1999 to 2001. B.C.’s southwest region includes the Lower Mainland. Paulson’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment before deadline.
The final submission by the families’ lawyers also identified 16 other witnesses who were not called by the commission.
One of these is David Pickton, who lived with his brother Robert and was “well known to police” for being associated with the Hells Angels. According to the submission, the Picktons’ properties in Port Coquitlam were “known by the police to be hives of illegal activity, including cockfighting, illicit alcohol and drug use, prostitution and petty theft”.
The document states that “despite the RCMP’s frequent attendances there, possibly as many as 49 murders were perpetrated”.
Commission spokesperson Ruth Atherley told the Straight by phone that Oppal cannot comment because he’s preparing his report.
In their final submission, the lawyers for the families also note that there are “many theories” about why Pickton wasn’t stopped early on. One is in connection with the police investigation of the Hells Angels, whose members frequented the Picktons’ Piggy Palace booze can.
According to the lawyers, this could have “in some way played a role in the police departments’ failure to intervene in Robert Pickton’s activities”.
They also raise the possibility that “police knew more about the Picktons than they were willing to disclose publicly.”
As well, the lawyers state, “many believe…that Robert Pickton did not act alone.”
Aug 23, 2012 at 5:43am
This entire case was mishandled from start to finish by numerous law enforcement groups, just not the RCMP, even though they certainly were the primary force involved. Of course Paulson was deeply involved and should have been called to testify, which indicates that deals were made behind closed doors. At this stage years later don't waste more tax dollars on this mishandled case.
Instead perhaps Paulson now as commissioner, safe in Ottawa, will implement the force's Core Values - not only to the rank/file but also all top brass officers and himself - starting with respect and honesty.
Aug 23, 2012 at 6:31am
It appears that it was an abysmal mistake to have Wally Oppal head this commission. And many were concerned that Oppal's appointment- a Liberal government Attorney General for some of the time-frame under investigation by the inquiry- appeared to constitute a conflict of interest. And then there were Oppal's remarks (reported by the Straight's Charlie Smith earlier) to CBC's Rick Cluff on the Early Edition, prior to being appointed commission chair, where he derided the idea of having an inquiry into the murdered and missing women complaining that you get a whole bunch of lawyers in the room and 'they go on and on'. The lawyers for the families have asked legitimate questions that still need answering and hopefully a Premier Adrian Dix will re-open the inquiry under a new truly effective commission chair.
Aug 23, 2012 at 11:57am
Violence , sexual abuse and murder of Aboriginal woman is at an epidemic level in Canada and we are doing little about it . There is also a staggering increase in violence against woman in our world in general and we are doing little about it! WHY !?
Aug 23, 2012 at 12:17pm
Why can't they bring this to Stephen Point?These guys are a waste of time.Hire a physic investigator to do some investigating it would be more quicker.
Aug 23, 2012 at 7:15pm
Rank has its privaleges
Aug 24, 2012 at 6:03am
How much more information do we need to hear about this? We had lengthy coverage at the lengthy trial and a lengthy inquiry. Some folks would like this to become a permanent commission, eternally asking questions on the subject and never being satisfied with the answers.