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B.C. government fumbles release of missing women inquiry report
Marilyn Renter has been waiting 15 years to see justice done for her step-daughter, Cynthia Feliks, whose DNA was found on serial killer Robert Pickton's farm.
Feliks was also among the 20 cases of missing women that Crown lawyers decided not to pursue in court after Pickton was found guilty of murdering six women.
And now it appears the B.C. government won't give the families of the missing women an in-person delivery of a commission of inquiry's report before it's released to the public via the Internet on Dec. 17.
"To deny us the opportunity of being at the report's release is another knife in our hearts," said Renter, a Rosedale resident.
"The inquiry cost several millions of dollars," she added. "Mostly spent on the attorneys for the Vancouver City police and the RCMP and the salary of the commission lawyers."
"To say that they won't spend the money to put us up in a hotel for one night so we can be there on Dec. 17 to see the report being released is tantamount to saying that 'we aren't worth the money,'" she said.
But a ministry spokesman said Friday that details of the release are still being worked out, which suggests the government may yet release the report to the families in an in-person setting and cover their travel expenses to Vancouver.
Attorney-General Shirley Bond issued a statement Thursday saying the families will have "confidential access" via a secure website to the 1,448-page report at 9 a.m. Dec. 17. At 1 p.m. the report will be live-streamed for public access.
"We certainly understand how difficult this process has been for the families, and we want to be as accommodating as possible while working within the requirements of the Public Inquiry Act," Bond said.
"We understand the families may have different needs," Bond said in a statement, "and in addressing those, we are still in discussions with them on arrangements for the day of release to ensure we are being as accommodating as possible."
Ernie Crey, brother to Dawn Crey, whose DNA was also found on Pickton's farm, said the 9 a.m. release hardly gives the families enough time to absorb the report's content before it's released to the general public.
Crey is asking Premier Christy Clark to "step in and direct that the final report be released not only on the Internet, but also in an in-person setting to the families, Inquiry participants and the press."
The Assembly of First Nations is also taking Clark to task for the "silent release" of the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry report.
"We call on you, as the representative of the citizens of B.C. to release the MWCI report in a manner that honors the dignity of murdered women who lost their lives, seventy-seven children left behind and respects the families impacted by one of the most notorious crimes against humanity," AFN National Chief Shawn Atleo wrote in a letter to Clark.
Renter said she will be "shocked" if the report doesn't criticize the police for their mishandling of the investigation and their failure to identify Pickton earlier as a suspect, which might have saved the lives of some of the missing women.
"The investigation was a joke, as the report should acknowledge," she said. "Our waiting for justice hasn't occurred as yet."