Letter from Judge Cory on the Inquiries Bill

Tuesday, March 15th, 2005

Dear Chairman Smith:

The proposed legislation pertaining to the public inquiries is unfortunate to say the least.

First, it must be remembered that when the Weston Park Accord was signed, the signatories would have had only one concept of a public inquiry. Namely, that it would be conducted pursuant to the 1921 Public Inquiry Act. Indeed, as an example the Bloody Sunday Inquiry would have commenced its work as a public inquiry by that time.

The families of the victims and the people of Northern Ireland would have thought that if a public Inquiry were to be directed it would be brought into existence pursuant to the1921 Public Inquiry Act.

To change the ground rules at this late date seems unfair. It seems as well unnecessary since the security of the realm would be ensured by the courts when the issue arose in a true public inquiry. My report certainly contemplated a true Public Inquiry constituted and acting pursuant to the provisions of the 1921 Act.

Further, it seems to me that the proposed new Act would make a meaningful inquiry impossible. The commissions would be working in an impossible situation. For example, the Minister, the actions of whose ministry was to be reviewed by the public inquiry would have the authority to thwart the efforts of the inquiry at every step. It really creates an intolerable Alice in Wonderland situation. There have been references in the press to an international judicial membership in the Inquiry. If the new Act were to become law, I would advise all Canadian judges to decline an appointment in light of the impossible situation they would be facing. In fact, I cannot contemplate any self respecting Canadian judge accepting an appointment to an inquiry constituted under the new proposed act.

Yours sincerely,

The Hon. Peter deC. Cory