Thursday, August 05, 2010

The Pickton Killings: Why We Need a Public Inquiry

I didn't know what to think when I heard that Robert Pickton would not be tried for the murder of twenty other women he was accused of killing.

On the one hand I was glad that we would be spared from hearing more ghastly stories about what went on at that blood soaked pig farm. On the other hand I didn't want the families and friends of the dead women to feel that they had been denied justice. Again.

But now that a publication ban has been lifted, and I've heard some of the things the jury never did.

There was a tremendous amount of damning evidence against Robert (Willie) Pickton that the jurors deciding his fate did not hear during his year-long trial in 2007, including an allegation from a sex-trade worker that he nearly stabbed her to death.

One thing I'm absolutely sure about is that if this case is ever going to have closure we need a public inquiry.

Now that the legal wrangling is over, there is a bigger question to confront: how did the Port Coquitlam pig farmer manage to lure vulnerable women – many of them prostitutes from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside – to their deaths for 14 years before police arrested him?

Not just to look at what went wrong, but WHY?

Because this isn't just a crime story. Or the story of a sick monster. It's also the story of the powerful and the powerless, and the desperately poor people of  Vancouver's Downtown Eastside neighbourhood.

And as I once wrote, after watching the sad story of Sarah de Vries...

The other horror was indifference.

Yup. As I said three years ago, for Sarah, for all the other women, for those who loved them, for the sake of all of us, we need a public inquiry.

So we can send out a message to anyone who still doesn't get it: ALL lives are precious. And ALL Canadians are equal. 

So some good might come of this horrible tragedy.

So it never happens again...

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