Dec. 12, 2011 Backgrounder 2:

B.C.’s new Independent Investigations Office:
Not what it’s made out to be


Early indications suggest to me that Richard Rosenthal is a good choice to head the new IIO. But the legislation establishing the IIO falls far short of Thomas Braidwood’s recommendations and the Ontario model that the IIO was supposedly going to follow.

The IIO will not answer to the provincial Ombudsperson, seriously detracting from its transparency.

The IIO’s transparency will be limited to a “monitor” who can review its investigations. But the monitor will be appointed by the IIO director.

The IIO won’t be able to lay criminal charges against police, as Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit does.

The IIO will simply present evidence to Crown lawyers, who have been notoriously reluctant to charge police. (The BC Liberals say they will ensure impartiality by having Crown attorneys handle cases from outside their own region, or by hiring special prosecutors. But in the Dziekanski case, Victoria prosecutors exonerated four Richmond RCMP officers. Special prosecutor Richard Peck’s review of the Dziekanski decision was troubling for a number of reasons. At the outset he implied that he wouldn’t criticize the original decision; he took nearly a year to conduct his review; he was employed by the Criminal Justice Branch on another case at the same time he was reviewing its Dziekanski decision; and he has previously worked for the OPCC whose boss, Stan Lowe, took part in the Dziekanski decision. Now the provincial government is keeping secret the reasons for Peck’s decision.)

The IIO will answer to the attorney general, leaving it open to political interference.

The IIO will come under the investigative authority of B.C.’s Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner, itself a product of police culture.

Police will continue to investigate police accused of “less serious” offences, with a review conducted by the OPCC.

The B.C. Liberals point out that Braidwood supports this legislation. But between writing his report and voicing his support, Braidwood changed his position radically.

Backgrounders to December 12, 2011 media release:

1. The OPCC: B.C.’s little-known police oversight agency

2. B.C.’s Independent Investigations Office: Not what it’s made out to be

3. B.C. media and police accountability: Little coverage and often inaccurate

4. The Don Morrison controversy: The one time that the OPCC did receive scrutiny

5. The BCCLA: Part of the problem with our system of police accountability

6. The NDP: Supporting the BC Liberals’ efforts to thwart police accountability

7. About me

Go to the Dec. 12, 2011 news release
Go to the News and Comment page