Oppal gets extra four months to finish Pickton inquiry

Missing Women probe won't add more dates to hear witnesses

Missing Women Inquiry commissioner Wally Oppal.

Commissioner Wally Oppal has been given an extra four months to finish the Missing Women Inquiry’s report on how police failed to stop serial killer Robert Pickton much sooner.

Oppal had been under pressure to hand down findings and recommendations by June 30 – a deadline that had already been extended six months – but will now have until Oct. 31, Justice Minister Shirley Bond said Thursday.

“We can’t have gone through all of this to not come back with a report that is as credible and significant as it should be,” Bond said. “I need a series of recommendations that British Columbians have confidence in.”

She said Oppal made a “compelling” argument for an extension of the inquiry, which has so far cost the province $6.4 million.

Bond predicted the bill won’t rise as quickly now that the inquiry is winding down.

She said the inquiry has been a challenge because of its broad scope.

“The mandate was about police conduct, and it’s hard to separate that at times from systemic concerns about the fate of aboriginal women in our province,” she said.

The inquiry was boycotted from the outset by most aboriginal and women’s groups, who complained then about a narrow focus and argued more recently for an extension to call more witnesses.

It also faced another delay when the lawyer representing aboriginal interests quit in protest – saying the inquiry was dominated by police lawyers – and had to be replaced.

The inquiry has ended its hearings and final submissions are to wrap up by the end of next week.

The Missing Women Inquiry heard from 80 witnesses, conducted public policy forums and commissioned various reports that Oppal will consider.

Much testimony explored how both Vancouver Police and the RCMP failed to target Pickton more intensively after he nearly killed a woman who escaped from his Port Coquitlam farm in early 1997.

Officers also got repeated tips that Pickton could be killing sex-trade workers from the Downtown Eastside in 1998.

He was finally arrested in February, 2002 and was eventually convicted on six counts of second-degree murder, although he boasted to an undercover cop he killed 49 women.

– with files from Tom Fletcher

Just Posted

EDITORIAL: What does being a Corn Capital really mean?

The Observer has been asked to help Agassiz become a bigger Corn Capital. But what does that mean?

Figures reveal spike in highway traffic jams between Abbotsford and Langley

Nearly one in 20 westbound vehicles between Abbotsford and Langley clocked at under 60 km/h

Taser takedown in Chilliwack complex after incident gets violent

Male suspect became agitated under questioning and repeatedly punched an officer

Harrison looks to test viability of solar power

Harrison has applied for a grant to see whether solar power is an option for its village buildings

Agassiz man pleads guilty in snake venom death of toddler

Plea comes more than five years after the incident in North Vancouver

VIDEO: Agassiz remembers local officer at grave-marking ceremony

Montague White-Fraser had been buried in the Old Cemetery for 92 years without a headstone

Vancouver Island teens missing after vehicle found ablaze near Dease Lake, BC

RCMP say a body discovered nearby not one of the missing teens

A year later, ceremony commemorates victims of the Danforth shooting

It’s the one-year anniversary of when a man opened fire along the bustling street before shooting and killing himself

Japanese Canadians call on B.C. to go beyond mere apology for historic racism

The federal government apologized in 1988 for its racism against ‘enemy aliens’

B.C. VIEWS: NDP pushes ahead with Crown forest redistribution

This isn’t the time for a radical Indigenous rights agenda

Two dead in two-vehicle crash between Revelstoke and Golden

RCMP are investigating the cause of the crash

Ottawa fights planned class action against RCMP for bullying, intimidation

The current case is more general, applying to employees, including men, who worked for the RCMP

Alberta judge denies B.C.’s bid to block ‘Turn Off the Taps’ bill

He said the proper venue for the disagreement is Federal Court

Most Read