Ontario has 'no plans' to launch public inquiry into Bruce McArthur investigation
Caroline Mulroney, Attorney General of Ontario walks away after scrumming with reporters after Question Period at the Ontario Legislature in Toronto, on Wednesday, September 12, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
Chris Fox, CP24.com
Published Thursday, February 21, 2019 4:35PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, February 21, 2019 9:14PM EST
The Ministry of the Attorney General says the province of Ontario has “no plans” to commence a public inquiry into the investigation of convicted serial killer Bruce McArthur.
The decision comes after the Toronto Police Services board said it had reached out to the province to gauge whether or not it was considering a public inquiry or any other type of review.
In July, the board signed off on an external review by Justice Gloria Epstein into the force’s handling of missing persons cases in the Church-Wellesley Village area, but a number of restrictions were put in place to ensure that the probe did not jeopardize the criminal prosecution involving McArthur.
In the wake of McArthur pleading guilty to eight counts of first-degree murder last month, Epstein made a formal request to the board for those restrictions to be lifted and the scope of her review to be widened to include a closer look at the police handling of the McArthur case.
The board, however, has not yet accented to the request.
In a statement issued on Thursday afternoon, the board said that it supports a review into the “specific circumstances” surrounding the McArthur case but was, at the time, awaiting a response from Attorney General Caroline Mulroney on whether she is considering a public inquiry before deciding whether or not to widen the scope of the external review.
“The board believes that it is important that any review be wide-ranging, transparent, open and comprehensive – and, now that the criminal proceedings are at an end, that the specific circumstances surrounding Mr. McArthur’s offences be examined, too,” the statement says. “We want to not only examine how the board and service can improve its policies, procedures, training and culture, but we seek to restore and fortify confidence in our police service, and to continue to build bridges with residents from all of our communities.”
Later in the day, a statement on behalf of the Ministry of the Attorney General said “it is up to the Toronto Police Services board to determine the scope of that review.”
“It is our hope that Justice Epstein’s review will be comprehensive enough to assist the Toronto Police Service in improving its practices and procedures related to missing person investigations, particularly those involved marginalized communities,” the statement reads.
Currently, the terms of reference for Epstein’s review stipulate that she cannot examine any facts after Sept. 1, 2017, when police first identified McArthur as a person of interest in the disappearance of Andrew Kinsman. The terms of reference also prohibit her from looking into “any of the police contact with or consideration of Bruce McArthur” before or after Sept. 1, 2017.
In its statement, the board said that it is “important” for it to know what plans the province may or may not have to review the McArthur case before making a decision on whether to expand the scope of Epstein’s work.
“Once the board receives the response from the Attorney General to the question it has posed, the board will, at the first available opportunity, consider Justice Epstein’s request and will keep the public informed of any developments,” the statement says.
There have previously been calls for a public inquiry into the police handling of the McArthur case, though only the province can call one.
Back on Jan. 30, Premier Doug Ford was asked about a potential public inquiry and told reporters that while he has “never said we aren’t going to (have one),” it was not the appropriate time for those discussions.
“It is a terrible tragedy but let’s just once in a while support our police rather than always attacking them,” he said.