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Missing woman's brother says BC gov't has 'unfinished business' on Pickton inquiry

With leaders across the country calling for a national inquiry on missing and murdered aboriginal women, the brother of one of those women in B.C. is asking why the provincial government has waited more than two months to replace the person tasked with carrying out the recommendations of its own such inquiry.

Former lieutenant government Steven Point was appointed to oversee the government's response to the Robert Pickton inquiry in December 2012, but he resigned from the role on May 17 after the children of some of the serial killer's victims filed a civil lawsuit against several authorities, including the RCMP and Vancouver Police Department.

Former justice minister Shirley Bond expressed concern at the time that any comments Point made in his position could become evidence in the case.

Ernie Crey's younger sister, Dawn, went missing in November 2000. Her DNA was found on Pickton's Port Coquitlam farm, though charges in her death were never laid. Crey, who testified at B.C.'s inquiry, wonders what's taking the government, and specifically Premier Christy Clark, so long to replace Point.

"That's unfinished business. [She] better tend to that," he told The Tyee.

B.C.'s Attorney General and Justice Minister Suzanne Anton, who assumed her role on June 10, has yet to meet with Point but plans to in the "near future," according to a ministry spokesperson. The government does not have a specific deadline to replace Point but is "actively" working on it, the spokesperson confirmed.

"Now that Mr. Point has stepped down, I need to hear from key groups and individuals before making a decision on how we will proceed, including what kind of replacement may be necessary or suitable," read an emailed statement attributed to Minister Anton sent to The Tyee today.

"We have a concrete work plan and my staff continues to make progress on the recommendations daily. This work is a priority for both me and our government to help ensure something like this doesn't happen again."

Anton added that she recently met with Wally Oppal, the missing women's inquiry commissioner, and said he was "encouraged by the progress made to date on the recommendations."

Oppal's nearly 1,500 page inquiry report included recommendations such as merging regional police departments into a single force, increasing funding for women's shelters and support services, and appointing a provincial "champion" of the report.

Critics of the report complained too few solutions to systemic problems were offered.

Robyn Smith reports for The Tyee. With files from David P. Ball.

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