Date: Wed, 08 Dec 1999 15:33:22 -0800
To: (Recipient list suppressed)
From: Ann Pohl <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>
Subject: Coalition for a Public Inquiry Press Release 12/8/99

*** Please note *** 
MPP Gerry Phillips private member's bill, "The Truth About Ipperwash Act",
will come up in the legislature for first reading tomorrow, December 9,
1999.  Reading of the Bill will begin at 11 am, or perhaps shortly before,
and is expected to conclude by Noon.  Gerry is optimistic that the Bill will
pass to second hearing.  

Should it fail, however, the Coalition has already planned a press
conference for the following day, Friday December 10 (the anniversary of the
UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights), at 10:00 am in the Queens Park
Media Studio, to elaborate on our further strategies. 

December 8, 1999:  Press Release
Coalition for a Public Inquiry into Ipperwash
Postal: Box 111, Station C, Toronto, Ont., M6J 3M7
Telephone: 416-537-3520
Fax: 416-538-2559

Four years and counting... no Inquest, no Inquiry, and the Civil Suit for
"Wrongful Death" of Dudley George, in which Harris was to have testified
today, continues to be stalled by government.

"What is the Tory cover-up on Ipperwash costing the Ontario taxpayer?," was
the question being asked today at a press conference called by the Coalition
for a Public Inquiry into Ipperwash.

The Ipperwash aftermath has cost AT LEAST $4,000,000, including criminal
cases with inflated costs because of the government's cover-up strategy.

Excluding all criminal costs and the inadequate SIU investigation of police,
the Cover-Up ALONE has cost $2,000,000. 


Today, December 8, 1999, Premier Mike Harris was to appear for Examination
for Discovery in the Wrongful Death suit brought against Harris and other
members of the Tory caucus by the family of slain Aboriginal rights
protestor Dudley George.  Though Harris announced following his re-election
that he would stop delaying the civil case and direct his staff to produce
any documents, on September 15, 1999, he hired veteran lawyer, Eleanore
Cronk, who routinely bills $400 an hour, to represent him.

Last week, Judge Gloria Epstein of the Superior Court of Justice ruled that
Premier Harris did not have to testify until the government  surrenders its
Ipperwash documents to the George family.  Though Harris has repeatedly said
he has nothing to hide in the Ipperwash Affair, he has now avoided
testifying under oath for more than three years.  Nor has his office
produced documents that were legally required at the end of November, 1998.
(The civil case was launched on March 3, 1996, when it became clear that the
government was not responding to repeated calls by thousands of individuals 
and groups for a Public Inquiry.)

"The cost of bringing Cronk into the case and securing Epstein's ruling
alone is conservatively estimated by the Coalition's legal team at
$140,000," said Coalition spokesperson Robin Buyers.  "Estimates of other
costs associated with the civil suit to date add up to $572,500."   

"But the costs of the cover-up add up to much more, more than 2 million so
far.  Additional costs to represent members of government and the OPP in
related criminal trials bring the total costs of the "Ipperwash Affair" to
over 4 million, and this is a very conservative estimate.  This is the cost
of injustice in Ontario," said Buyers.

"These figures were compiled by using our files as a chronological reference
point for significant events that have occurred during the past four years.
I  then drew on the expertise of legal, public service and other supporters
of our Coalition to cost out these items in an informed, but estimated way,"
explained Coalition Spokesperson, Ann Pohl. The 10-page research document
compiled by Pohl was circulated at a press conference this afternoon,
itemizing about 50 separate Ipperwash-related matters.  "Because of the
limitations we faced, we know that the figures we have produced are very low
but they begin to give a picture of both the extent and the cost of the

While acknowledging that Public Inquiries can be costly, the Coalition
referred to the 1992 Report of the Ontario Law Reform Commission on Public
Inquiries, emphasizing that public inquiries can investigate matters
affecting good government in Ontario better than other judicial and
legislative branches of government which tend to `fragment issues into a
limited set of categories established by existing norms.' This reasoning
concurs with a recommendation for an Inquiry from Ontario's own Ombudsman,
made earlier this year.

"We can see this kind of 'fragmentation' in our breakdown of the Ipperwash
case into a much-delayed civil suit, an inconclusive SIU investigation into
a beating by OPP officers that almost killed a member of the local Native
Band Council the same night as the shooting, a case under appeal against an
OPP officer for Criminal Negligence causing the death of Dudley George, and
other appeals," continued Buyers. "Whatever the cost of justice through a
Public Inquiry, surely our taxes would be better spent uncovering the truth
about Ipperwash rather than covering it up." 

"Tomorrow, the government has another chance to show that they are both
fiscally and morally responsible by voting for Liberal MPP Gerry Phillips
private member's bill, The Truth About Ipperwash Act," said Buyers.  This
Act would set up a commission of inquiry under the Public Inquiries Act that
would allow the commission "to defer beginning the inquiry if necessary to 
avoid prejudice to any person who is a party to court proceedings concerning
matters which may be a subject of the inquiry."  

Harris and the government have always said that an Inquiry was possible once
related cases have cleared the courts - a position repeated by Attorney
General Jim Flaherty this week. "Why not save the costs of the civil case
and commit to the Inquiry now?," suggested Buyers.  "The George family have
said from the outset that they would drop the suit if a fair, full Inquiry
is called."

Aboriginal spokesperson for the Coalition, Michael Eshkibok, emphasized "how
important it is for Aboriginal people, as well as concerned Canadians, to
know the truth about what happened to Dudley George."  "Because Native
culture is spirit-centred," said Eshkibok, "truth is highly valued.  Once we 
know the truth, we can begin to heal from the anger and resentment caused by
Ipperwash, and begin to hope that it will never happen again.  Until then,
we don't know."


For information:        Ann Pohl  -   416-537-3520
                        Robin Buyers  -   416-658-7485
                        Michael Eshkibok  -   416-778-4993

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