You can’t help but shudder at the sinister nickname for British Columbia’s Provincial AutoRoute 16, known as “The Highway of Tears,” which is both a trucking passage and the winding graveyard of up to 42 aboriginal women—most of which assumed murdered by a series of active serial killers. In fact, the RCMP, Canada’s famous Mounties and the chief police force investigating the murders—believes there are active serial killers currently operating along the highway. The RCMP puts the official number of women who have been murdered along the highway at 18.
Running west to east through some of the most remote terrain in North America, passing by desolate First Nations reserves and logging towns, the highway has become synonymous with the endemic violence towards Native women in Canada: They’re five times more likely than any other ethnicity in the country to be raped or murdered. It really wasn’t until a white tree planter was murdered and discovered on the highway in 2002, that the RCMP finally launched a full-scale investigation. The taskforce, called EPANA, has had its funding cut several times in the last few years and no one is sure what they are doing now.
Ray Michalko, a former RCMP detective who quit the force, is now one of the only men on the job as a private investigator. He works directly with the families of missing or murdered indigenous women on his own dime. He takes VICE on a tour of, basically, Canada’s Valley of Death and connects us with the families who have turned to him after sometimes decades of stalled police investigations.
When I saw this video posted yesterday by the Tyee online, I sat down with a cup of coffee to watch it. It’s been a while since I heard the name Ray Michalko and it’s very much worth the time it takes to watch this. In the wake of the launch of former VPD detective Lori Shenhers book on the Pickton case, it was timely. In both the Pickton case and the murdered and missing women of the Highway of Tears, law enforcement has come under fire. Though separate cases, they are inextricably intertwined by sorrow,grief and a heavy feeling that results from a lack of closure on both.
Government has come under fire as well, for saying first this section of highway was safer than ever, and then quashing the idea of a shuttle bus along the highway last year.
But it wasn’t until May of this year when Tim Duncan blew the whistle on all of this -after stating he was forced to delete emails following an FOI request for the Highway of Tears– that an investigation was launched. The final report of that investigation was revealed today, and with it, the news that an executive assistant to Minster of Transportation Todd Stone lied under oath. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/highway-of-tears-email-deletion-referred-to-rcmp-by-b-c-privacy-watchdog-1.3284029
My reaction was swift this morning, and without exaggeration. And it makes me sick.Why?
Because those in the highest levels of this government, the ministers, their closest assistants and the premier herself, seem to have lost all perspective of how their actions have a trickle down effect that impacts many lives. These are not numbers, or stats…these are all people we are talking about here.
Rod MacIsaac committed suicide because he was fired and said to be under RCMP investigation. Only… he wasn’t. And his family can’t get him back. Apologies ring hollow. Lies and more lies. What page is that in the government manual?
Paige is gone. But the government response to the scathing report on her death- one of many in ministry care, or recently released from ministry care- was released on October 19th, the day Canadians voted in the most contentious election most of us will remember. No disrespect or attempt to squeeze that out under cover there. No, not in the most open and transparent government in Canada!
And yet…. there are more. And no amount of tears will get those loved ones back.
Tonight, I do still feel angry. But more so,I feel disappointed. Clark campaigned on bringing people back into government,on accountability and transparency. Yet… where did all those promises get us? Amrik Virk, a former RCMP member, fumbling through question period today when confronted with the opposition that thankfully chose to oppose.
The families of all of these victims- some of whom may still be here with us had government taken its job seriously and ensured due process was happening – have gone through enough. There is no closure. There will be no healing for many. But due process is not something this government allows to happen. Accountability is just a word that looks good in a promise, and even the most partisan Liberal supporter in BC needs to ask why that is.
When people are dying because of government action… or inaction, it isn’t an issue of left or right… it is an issue of doing the right thing. And if doing the right thing means admitting that you screwed up, you admit that you screwed up and take your consequences.
As a person of integrity, you do it…willingly. You do not pass the buck. You do not let a staffer take the fall. You do the right thing and take responsibility as a leader and let it rest on your shoulders.
But under the ‘open’ Clark government? Not so much.
Not so much accountability. Not so much effort to change anything. Photo-ops and happy smiles all while declaring innocence of knowledge of any of it. Which is really hard to believe considering staffers wouldn’t be doing any of this if they didn’t think it was perfectly acceptable.
Not even under Gordon Campbell did I see anything like this. It’s a culture of deceit and deflection that makes the West Wing reference look like pre-school, and House of Cards the playbook. There is a demonstrated lack of respect for the law, but more so, the spirit of the law.
And you were worried about Stephen Harper in BC??
Integrity BC is a must follow on facebook https://www.facebook.com/IntegrityBritishColumbia and twitter https://twitter.com/INTEGRITYBC .
They’ve been sharing some more examples of how ministers, ministerial staff and other have been circumventing FOI and document handling laws, and here is just one of a few posted:
It’s also worth a trip back down memory lane to when government removed the penalties associated with document handling… and I was questioning why a bigger fuss wasn’t made over it when it immediately came to the attention of the opposition.
This matters right now. Greatly. And it didn’t get a lot of press when it happened.
Read this first: https://lailayuile.com/2015/05/29/the-more-that-government-becomes-secret-the-less-it-becomes-free-james-russell-wiggins/
Then this: https://lailayuile.com/2015/05/31/if-you-kept-the-small-rules-you-could-break-the-big-ones-%E2%80%95-george-orwell/
And tell me there wasn’t a bigger agenda here than making it easier to destroy old,unnecessary documents.
This was about protecting those who do the dirty work. And that is all it was about.
38 thoughts on “Tears are nothing new under the Clark government.”
I am honestly at a loss to know what to say. There was a feeling of hope after the federal election, but this? People should be going to jail for all you have listed here. But they just skate through. How is this happening? At a loss….
It is no exaggeration to say that this particular government has laughed in the face of democracy. Deliberately deleting records, the creation of an oral government, using private emails or no emails to avoid creating records that might get pulled up in an FOI?
I can’t count how many times an FOI has come back no responsive records. They don’t even get redacted,often there is nothing.
And yes, the next question is, what do they have to hide?
Well written Laila.
The inaction on this matter as well as the inane actions in general are as shocking as utterly disappointing.
Yet we as voters are hamstrung when it comes to dealing with her government.
There is no fear of the voters by the government.
There should be.
She is quickly heading into recall territory here. This is a gross indifference of the law.
Very well written and a very accurate assessment of what Christy Clark and the BC Liberals
Thank you Robert. In all honesty I wish I didn’t have anything to write about. It would be nice to see some of MLA’s on the Liberal side of the house stand up for what is right. Not holding my breath though, but they need to take a lesson from what happened to Harper when people had enough.
What seems to be missing in this highway of tears situation is the poor choices that the idigenous women make by hitchhiking along this road. You mention a shuttle bus for the highway. How about the native bands along this highway pool some of the money they get from the govt. of canada and provide such a bus.
For what it cost Christy Clark to throw her useless Bollywood party, she could have instituted a shuttle bus operation for the next decade.
Simply a matter of priorities.
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I can’t help but ask if this is John Cummins…. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/john-cummins-conservative-missing-murdered-women-1.3258611
To some extent, John is right this time. OBVIOUSLY a person hitchhiking is not to be blamed for being victimized but still, after all the tears shed, why take such a chance? The shuttle bus would save those legitimately needing to travel. But what of the others NOT so legitimate? The ones victimized elsewhere and dumped on the highway? What of the endemic violence on the reserves? Or the overall poverty in the area? The answer lies NOT in investigating truckers and drivers although I am sure some are bad if not serially so. The answer lies in the region and the depressing state it is in. On a much brighter note, I am stunned to read about Michalko, an RCMP who should STILL be in the force if not leading it, in my opinion. I have lost a lot of faith in the tasering bullies our RCMP have become but I am going to donate to Michalko’s work. THAT’s integrity. THAT’s doing the right thing!
It is far more complex than this JDC. Far more. I grew up on the north side of PG.And there was a lot of chatter over the cases that happened. When Nicole Hoar went missing, that was when it all ramped up. Why? Because she was Caucasian. Suddenly more attention was paid to all the women missing or murdered along that stretch of road. And people wondered who she would have felt safe enough to get into a vehicle with.
Michalko is a gem. And he is doing what he should be doing right now on his own. Any support for this man is a good thing.
Yes Laila who would these women trust or was it who they thought they had to obey. After the revelations that off duty police frequented Piggy’s Palace I have questions. Motive and opportunity. Maybe a review of logs and death occurrences is in order.
I agree. In fact, that is my point. It is more complicated than just pervs-in-trucks. I think it is even more complicated than just what it seems like from the number of murder victims. There is something dystopian up there. Mind you, I haven’t been there in years but, when I was there, it had a bad ‘feel’ in so many ways. Kinda like El Salvadore does today. Getting out becomes your main priority.
Our Priemier gets away with this because she has people like Baldrey and Palmer covering her ass,,,,simple
Len, I also have no time for Baldrey — but to be fair to Palmer, he let ‘er rip today:
I have to say, both have supported and made mention of various blog posts over the last few years in their news reports and columns…. and although I was mainstream for a few years, this happened before I was mainstream…
Well even when Palmer flings enough pig manure long it will eventually stick to Christy…..
Not enough “media” in this Province flinging Liberal created crap directly back at them.
And the “news media” scratch their collective heads and wonder why the viewers/reader/subcribers are leaving in droves.
Triple deleted emails, verbal only directives, post-it notes that are immediately destroyed after the reader has assimilatedthe info.
Although I did like Christy’s “deer in the headlights” moment last night on the 6pm “news” hour when she was asked repeatedly about her staff having zero emails……..”ummm, cause, like ya know, ummmm, sometimes they forget and do things that are like ummm not right?”
Her intellectual depth is only surpassed by her ability to deflect direct questions.
And then of course, her ‘handlers” end the interview immediately……
I have an idea!
It should be illegal ( if it isnt already) for ANY govt funded( insert the beleagered taxpayer here) projects to be discussed without some sort of record. Written, recorded, whatever. It must be recorded for auditors to be able to follow the money and the decision process.
Why doesnt the govt have ALL emails go to a compulsary “third” address in data storage. A Data storage that cant be deleted by the sender or anyone else for that matter.
Oh, posssibly because confidential data storage in BC gets lost on a regular basis?
My apologies Laila but poo flinging monkeys farting “natural “gas” could run this Province more efficiently.
The days of compliant media covering up for the reigning govt are drawing to an end and the “wild west” attitude amoung the politicians that believe they can do anything they want is also going to be getting harder and harder to explain away.
While I think a recall motion for Christy is a great idea who would replace her?
Nah lets wait until the next election and do what we should have done last time.
Not to diminish the Highway of Tears travesty but what has become of the investigation of the Ministry of Health firings and subsequent suicide of Rod MacIsaac?
Are we entitled to interim reports, or will this too fade into the woodwork?
They are hoping it will fade into the woodwork John. And thank God you posted because I was starting to worry because I hadn’t seen you in a while!!
There are many who will never forget Rod’s death John. It is directly related to the culture that led us to this story.
I’m always here. And the fish are too. Might have to wait until next season now.
Be happy, be safe.
look, first of all, the hitchiking is dangerous everywhere… Recent studies have shown over 90% of problems in this area are from FAMILIY AND FRIENDS… please enough of this…
Are you saying that friends and family are responsible for 90% of whatever happened to the missing women?
If so, proof please.
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Yes, please enlighten us.
The simple answer to what is going on lay in one of your tweets, Laila:
“If we can’t get the stories via FOI,if the info is gone,how will government ever be held accountable?”
It won’t. And ain’t that the whole point?
As we saw in Monday’s election, the way we remove those from office who do not deserve to hold it is through enough people reaching a point of disgust that they collectively say, that’s enough and demand action. Sad really, when even the appearance of less than honourable behavior used to be enough to cause a person of conscience to step down. What does the oath of office say, anyway?
But what used to be is gone in some circles so no point pursuing that. What we can pursue is an unrelenting demand that those at the very highest levels responsible for the lies, deceits, falsehoods, abrogations of law leave office.
Don’t let Mr. MacIsaac’s death, deletions of records of government business and all of the other travesties fade away. That’s what they’re counting on. Don’t give it. Canadians didn’t on Monday.
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They are counting on that. Clark was off visiting a seniors home in Merritt today. It’s like the Lego movie theme song… ” Everything is Awesome!”
bc has lost the moral authority to govern
I would agree with this.
And now, the biography of Christy Clark being written by none other than Judi Tyabji!! The same Judi whose spouse was the LNG advocate for the BC Govt for two terms ( not sure if that was continued or not) She also assisted in applying for a grant to promote Sunshine Coast products ( paid out of that grant as a consultant) and went onto apply for and receive another grant ( $128K) for this project: http://www.prpeak.com/articles/2014/07/03/news/doc53b42c4d80bf6767563667.txt
So I’m really not sure if this is a biography or an advertisement for the next election. Moral authority?
Christy Clark’s biography?
O M G.. Possibly a runner up for the Guiness World record for Thinnest and most unsuccessful sales award?
One wonders if there will be a chapter on BC Rail in that epic tome.
O M G !
A biography on Christy Clark?
And which section of Chapters will we find THAT epic tome in?
Fiction? Fantasy? Political Science?
The Attorney General’s ministry attempted to have the Information Commissioner delay the issuance of her report. Good on the Commissioner for refusing to knuckle under.
This is the same ministry that just sent an inappropriate letter to a victim’s family for which the Premier had to apologize. And the same ministry with the same key folks in charge that concocted the illegal Basi/Virk payoff for which someone will ultimately have to answer.
So who better to use as a slap in the face to the current Commissioner for her efforts on our behalf, but a former Commissioner who made a pit stop in the ministry of Attorney General?
As Deputy Attorney General, David Loukidelis was lead hand in a conspiracy to withhold material information from the sitting judge in a criminal trial, and conducted secret plea negotiations with the defendants in that trial without informing the special prosecutor.
Now he’s going to review the current Commissioner’s work and train public employees in the proper way to handle information? Colour me incredulous.
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No kidding. Not in my world.
Great work Laila.
This culture of deceit and deception has also infected many local governments.
When the police are finished with Victoria I wonder if they should be looking at White Rock?
In my opinion the similarities are intriguing…Ross
Thank you for writing this post. It is important people understand the B.C. Lieberals are in high delete mode. A reasonable person, in government, ought to know deleting e-mails is not an appropriate practise, when it deals with government business. For M.L.A.s to suggest otherwise is to consider the voters of this province as stupid. We are not, so dear M.L.A., if you read this, don’t think you are fooling any one.
When a government is deleting so much and so frequently, one does have to wonder why. It certainly isn’t because the computer doesn’t have the capacity to handle more e-mails. A reasonable conclusion would be the government is hiding something, well more than something, a lot of somethings.
When it comes to the Highway of Tears, it would not surprise me if the deletions have to do with solutions to the problem. i.e. the government spend some money on transportation. It may be as simply as providing bus service in these areas, but In my opinion, Christy and her crew would rather spend $14 Million on a Bollywood special than 14 cents on saving a First Nations Woman’s life. The murders have been going on for years and yet there is no bus service in the area. There are no extra RCMP patrols on the highway. Why? because it costs money and Christy and her crew aren’t going to spend on nickel to save a life of some one who doesn’t belong to their party. We have seen the results of the B.C. Lieberals neglect of the children in care in this province and their deaths. We have seen the 86 people who died in Burnaby General in 2 1/2 yrs. Nothing has been done. I can see why Christy and her crew don’t care. it would cost them money and they don’t have any. However, the voters of this province are just as responsible for what has happened because they elected Christy Clark and the B.C. Lieberals even if they know their act. Not one group has stood up and said, we will try re call, there are too many deaths of children in care and/or the Highway of Tears. So long as people permit the condition to exist, then they are part of the problem.
If Tod Stone had any stones or human decency, he would resign his post. I’m not holding my breath. He doesn’t want to give up the extra salary and perks of being a cabinet minister. Not one B.C. Lieberal M.L.A. has stood up and said I can’t stand this anymore, I’m going to sit as an independent. Some will say, well you can’t help anything if you’re on the outside. Well, they’ve been on the inside for sometime and nothing has happened.
Laila, my conclusion, this provincial government cares about photo ops and LNG. They don’t care about dead children in care or dead First Nations women.
What would it cost the provincial government to run a twice daily bus service up and down that highway? Obviously the cost is more, in Christy and her cabal’s opinion, than the worth of one First Nations woman.
A suggestion to those bands negotiating treaties with Christy and her cabal. Stop until she deals with the Highway of Tears and puts some money into a bus service. If she doesn’t care about those dead women and those who might be murdered, trust me, she doesn’t care about you, your band, your future, or resources, only about what she and her friends can get out of you for their own benefit.
I’m not in BC right now but my grandchildren live there. In SK we have our own problems with abuse to FN women, but the problem goes even farther East: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/aboriginal-women-s-claims-of-police-sex-abuse-under-investigation-1.3282845
It will be interesting to see what Tom Fletcher has to say on this.
[…] It’s something I’ve written about several times, here, here and most recently, here. […]
Just tossing this in there. The day after I blogged about the removal of penalites, the NDP released this. They have created democratic reform legislation that includes the duty to document https://www.bcndp.ca/newsroom/bc-liberals-rule-change-protects-staffers-who-destroy-records
[…] https://lailayuile.com/2015/10/22/11602/ […]
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