On the radio this week I heard former Attorney-General Wally Oppal conclude that the decision by the BC Court of Appeal in the Robert Pickton case shows that "the system works".
To review, Pickton was convicted last year of six counts of second-degree murder and he is serving a life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years. The cases of twenty other alleged murder victims were separated out to be tried later. The Court of Appeal has now upheld the convictions (because the court split 2-1 a further appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada seems likely), though it also ruled that the judge in the original trial should have tried all 26 cases at once.
With due respect to Mr. Oppal, I don't understand how this outcome can be seen as any sort of triumph for the system.
First of all, it now seems unlikely that a trial in the outstanding 20 cases will take place, leaving them unresolved and, of course, leaving the families of the victims understandably aggrieved.
Secondly, there are officially 69 women missing from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. The Pickton case accounts for 26. What has happened to the others? Their cases remain unsolved.
And thirdly, before and after Pickton was arrested there were many people who believed that the Vancouver Police Department handled the case ineptly. An inquiry into the police conduct of the missing women investigation was demanded. At the time it was said that any inquiry would have to await the outcome of Pickton's trial. Has the time now arrived to tidy up that piece of unfinished business and to discover if in fact the system worked as well as Mr. Oppal believes?