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Walter Kosteckyj, who represented Dziekanski’s mother and delivered recommendations to a subsequent public inquiry, called the move “a very positive thing and one of the recommendations that I had pressed for in my submission in the Braidwood Commission.”
Vancouver lawyer Cameron Ward, who has represented families in 10 B.C. cases relating to injury or death of individuals at the hands of police, said: “It is change that has been long overdue. I’ve felt having police officers investigate cases of serious injury or death involving police officers does not serve the police nor does it serve the community. A civil organization tasked with the investigation will improve the investigation and restore the public trust in the police.”
In his June 2010 report into the death of Dziekanski, Justice Thomas Braidwood recommended that B.C. develop a civilian-based criminal investigative body, which he suggested be named the Independent Investigation Office (IIO). B.C.’s government announced in May that bill 12 will create the IIO and it is currently assessing the office’s location, budget and staffing requirements, but expects the office to be operational by the end of 2011.
The IIO will be the lead investigative agency in cases under its mandate, interview witnesses and gather evidence. It will be lead by a civilian (who has never served as a police officer), conduct criminal investigations in serious injury, death, or other serious incidents involving police, be able to investigate all police officers, including RCMP, have powers entrenched in legislation and report to the attorney general. The broad powers of the office are expected to extend beyond those of similar civilian bodies that exist in Ontario and Alberta.
While B.C. has the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner, it is only empowered to handle complaints against B.C.’s 15 municipal police forces and not the RCMP, a federal entity.
IIO investigators will have status equivalent to that of police officers. The office’s director will have the discretion to hire ex-police officers as investigators, as long as they have not served in B.C. within the past five years. This will ensure the office has sufficient investigative skills and capacity to achieve its mandate in its initial, formative years.
Ward said he believes there will be a transitional period where individuals, who have not been police officers, will get trained to work with the IIO. Kosteckyj, who is a former RCMP officer, said he sees no problem with hiring former police officers as long as there is an arms-length relationship. Establishing an independent investigative body “is not going to happen over night,” he said, as individuals have to be hired and independent labs established to work with the investigators.
“One of the things that I would do, if I was looking to do this, is to look what they do in England, look at the Ontario model and look at Alberta and try to take the bet for all of these models. It is not going to emerge all of a sudden and it is going to take a while to get it up and running.”
Before Jan. 1, 2015, a special committee of the legislature will conduct a review of the office’s administration and general operations. The chief civilian director’s legislation will allow the office’s civilian director to appoint a civilian monitor with access to all information on an investigation. The monitor will be free to raise concerns to the director about the integrity of an investigation and submit a final report within 30 days.
Ward said he is hopeful that the IIO will be adequately funded and staffed and that the staff will not consist of solely of ex-police officers.
We are very proud of the journalism we do here at Canadian Lawyer and once again I am happy to announce that at last night's KRW Awards, which recognize the best in the Canadian business press, that our magazine took home a gold and two silver awards.
|Art director Bill Hunter, staff writer Robert Todd, and editorial director Gail J. Cohen celebrating our success at the KRW Awards last night. Photo: Heather Gardiner|
The silver awards came for staff writer Robert Todd’s “Legal aid: a system in peril,” a critical look at the state of legal aid across this country in the October 2010 issue. That same issue was honoured in the best cover category with art direction by Bill Hunter and illustration by Darren Booth.
Canadian Lawyer also received honourable mentions for the June 2010 Money Issue cover; for our former Back Page columnist Ezra Levant in the best regularly featured column or department category; in the best feature category for Bruce Livesey’s article “When Temptation Bites” and Todd’s “Greener pastures”; artist Anthony Tremmaglia got a nod for his Canadian Lawyer InHouse October 2010 cover illustration; and Hunter along with photographers Roth & Ramberg for the opening spread of the article “A Major undertaking.”
I look forward to continuing our history of excellence with a great team of staff and freelance contributors who work hard every day to bring great content to our readers. Please join me in congratulating our dedicated team.
Thomson Rogers celebrated its 75th anniversary at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts on June 7.
(l to r): Lerners LLP partner Earl Cherniak, Ontario Chief Justice Warren Winkler, and Dutton Brock LLP senior partner Brian Brock.
(l to r): Thomson Rogers associate Deanna Gilbert, Darlene Humphrey, Dr. Cheryl Alyman, and Thomson Rogers associate Joanna Harris.
(l to r): Thomson Rogers associates Robert Ben, Adam Halioua, Paul Parker, and Stephen Birman.
(l to r): Thomson Rogers managing partner Alan Farrer; Joe Pileggi, the firm's director of client services; and Canadian Lawyer publisher Karen Lorimer.
All photos by Heather Gardiner.
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Feds won't consult SCC on Senate reform, The Canadian Press
N.J. court rules against blogger, Reuters
Pediatrician on trial for rape, sexual assault, Reuters
Chinese student executed for woman's death, Reuters
Ex-Credit Suisse broker gets additional 2 years in prison, Reuters
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Gail J. Cohen