by Frank LaRue
The investigation of the missing and murdered women along the Highway of Tears has brought only one solved case. Years of investigation by RCMP and the special E-Pana force have resulted in a slashed budget because of unsolved cases gone cold. The Missing Women’s inquiry of 2010 recommended bus service on Highway 16, but that was nixed by the provincial government.
It didn’t seem to make a difference that young Native women are forced to hitchhike along Highway 16 because of no bus service and that several missing women were last seen hitchhiking. “It still happening,” the Lake Babine Band Chief told the Vancouver Sun. “I picked up a couple myself. I asked them why they are doing this, and it all comes down to economics. They don’t have the money for transportation.”
Gladys Radek lost her niece Tamara Chipman, who was last seen hitchhiking in 2005. Radek is angry at the lack of transparency on the Highway of Tears investigation. “To me it is obvious that they have a huge coverup going on with no answers for a decade for my family and no actions or implementing any of the recommendations.”
The Highway of Tears doesn’t seem to be a priority for Christy Clark, yet when the NDP requested a freedom of information file on the investigation some files were destroyed by government officials. Tim Duncan, executive assistant to the Minister of Transportation, was told to delete certain files, but when he questioned the order, his computer keyboard was taken away from him and another government official deleted the files.
Elizabeth Denham, Information and Privacy Commissioner, has initiated an investigation into the matter. Unfortunately, Tim Duncan has been fired, and the official who took his keyboard has been suspended. NDP chief John Horgan stated, “It’s standard operating procedure for the BC Liberals to remove documents rather than share them with the public.” The question is: what was so incriminating that it had to be deleted to avoid public scrutiny?
It will be interesting to see what an investigation comes up with. Todd Stone, Minister of Transportation, was unaware of the deletions. Stone told the media, “As minister, I expect the staff who work in my office to adhere 100 percent to the requirements of the applicable legislation.” Where there smoke, there is fire. How could the minister’s assistant take it upon himself to remove the keyboard of the executive assistant and delete the files without the approval of the minister himself?