The OPP investigation no one wants to talk about
Jessica Orkin comments on the 16-year fight to get the Ontario Government to comply with its own privacy legislation.
In 1991, two Hamilton men were wrongfully convicted of the 1983 murder of a Toronto mobster. They were released in 1997 after a judge found that police and the prosecutor had deliberately and systematically withheld evidence during their trial.
The Ontario Provincial Police investigated the police and Crown and issued a report in 1998, but it was never made public. For 16 years, Hamilton Spectator and the Criminal Lawyers’ Association attempted to obtain the report, but the Ontario government refused to release it, even in the face of rulings by the Ontario Information and Privacy Commissioner (IPC) that it should be released.
In September 2014, the shockingly closed the file, on the basis that there as no legal way to force the Government to abide by earlier rulings regarding public access to the document.
Jessica Orkin, speaking for the Criminal Lawyers’ Association, commented on the Government’s intransigence in the Hamilton Spectator:
“The scandal is they managed to avoid an investigation back then with total impunity, avoid reporting on it with total impunity, and today, avoid complying with the IPC’s ruling with, it seems, total impunity.”
Despite the IPC throwing in the towel, the Hamilton Spectator managed to get a copy of the report from other sources and published “Railroaded: A Spectator True Crime Exclusive.” The story raises concerns about the OPP investigation, the apparent inability of police to effectively investigate other police officers and what it calls the “utter toothlessness” of the legislation governing access to public information.