A homemade ornament of Claudette Osborne adorns a tree set up at the Legislature yesterday.
As of October 19, 2010 a document to formalize the integrated task force for missing and murdered women has not yet been completed. This means that technically the task force does not officially exist. However, I interviewed five RCMP officials, who assured me that the task force, with it's nine full-time members, exists. It's just like a "common-law marriage" one of them told me.
(To read the full story I wrote about this in the Winnipeg Free Press click here.)
I don't doubt that the task force exists in the non-formalized capacity. In fact, I suspect that the members assigned to the 84 cold cases, have a great deal of passion for their work and for bringing justice to these missing and murdered women. However, they are working under the guise that this task force is legitimate. It's not. In fact, from a legal standpoint, this task force doesn't even exist. There are no official documents, no annual budget, no accountability and no transparency.
It's a slap in the face to the memory of these women, to their families and to the officers who are working hard to try and solve these cases. The province has had more than 15 months to formalize this task force, and yet they still haven't. Being a "common-law" entity is not good enough when it comes to this issue.
Yesterday, at a ceremony at the Legislature, Premier Greg Selenger addressed the audience comprised of families of victims, media, politicians and supporters. He said that he stood in solidarity with these families, and even assured everyone that the task force is "up and running."
At the same ceremony family members spoke out about how they have not been contacted by task force officials, and they questioned its very existence.
How can this relationship even be considered one that stands in solidarity?
While I get that many of the things that involve the task force must stay under wraps for fear that if exposed it will compromise the investigations into these cases, however these families still need something more than the Premier's word. (Which I might add, has lost credibility since it has been discovered that the task force isn't official.)
The bottom line: Our province needs to start taking this issue more seriously. If the officials in charge can't bother to legitimize something so crucial as this task force, perhaps it's time to elect new ones.