Tuesday, February 27, 2007



The recent case of Frank Paul, a Mik'mac First Nations Citizen is once again in the news. Well in actual fact, this tragic death of Mr. Paul never went away and from time to time, continued to pop up on our news radar.

Mr. Paul died of exposure while still in custody of the Vancouver Police Department. Initially, the government and Chief Coroner, refused calls for an Inquiry but since the Gordon Campbell government has adopted a new conciliatory approach with our First Nations, this issue of Mr. Paul's death had been left outstanding. Quite frankly, this case was a major blemish on the government's record. Kudos though to Solicitor General, John Les for paving the way for a public inquiry.

It is vitally important that this government go further and right a wrong. The Police Complaints Commissioner, was chosen by the government to head up the public inquiry. Mr. Dirk Ryneveld refused the offer. This leaves the government in the position of needing to choose a fair person who has stellar credentials and I believe, one who is accepted by the First Nations.

There is an individual who I believe has the necessary skills to head up that Commission. Her name is Kelly MacDonald and she has the experience and even handiness to ensure a fair public process.

Her experience includes being appointed by then Mayor Larry Campbell to sit on the Vancouver Police board. According to her colleagues, she did an amazing job around policy issues while serving on the board. She is also respected by the VPD and this is an important factor since the Police will be testifying at the Frank Paul Inquiry.

Kelly currently sits as an adjudicator to the Residential School hearings of which the Honourable Ted Hughes is Chair.. She travels all over the province and hears the tragic first hand accounts of the survivors. In her role, she is expected to bring fairness and justice to those who had been wronged.

Ms MacDonald also sits on Parole board and makes decisions around complex issues of a legal nature. Again, according to colleagues, Ms MacDonald is an individual with a highly thought reputation who can look at all sides and bring forth a fair, balanced and humane to those individuals serving time in our penal institutions.

For all the above reasons, I would like Minister John Les to consider the appointment of Lawyer, Ms Kelly MacDonald to head up the Inquiry into the death of Frank Paul.

With her appointment, Justice will be seen to have been done and this will go a long way to ensuring that re-conciliation with our First Nations is much more than just a footnote in the history of this province.

Jamie Lee Hamilton