Thursday, October 07, 2010

What The Women In Prison Said

What The Women in Prison Said
Having spent a considerable amount of time in British Columbia’s jails and prison over eco-disputes (my objection to the rapid deforestation of this province) I have always listened to any conversation going on around me with the ear of a journalist (that’s what I am, in addition to being an activist). As the women prisoners accepted me as a criminal (after all, that’s what the Attorney General said I was), the inmates spoke freely before me. And I didn’t flinch from these women’s stories of child rape and family abuse, poverty, addictions, pimps, violence, gangs, and the means they employed to survive, as they were truth telling as they had experienced it. And at age 82 I am reasonably shock proof. Except one story I heard over and over from many different women, stories repeated endlessly in the prison compound and prison yard. It was about the Pickton farm and the murdered women.
At first I didn’t believe these stories, stories that went above and beyond the fact that an insane man had killed sex trade workers and fed them to his pigs. But the reasons behind this as described by the women, were simply too ghastly to be true. I dismissed the stories completely. The police, the RCMP, the provincial government just could not allow such things to happen as these stories suggested, the ones circulating in prison, especially in a civilized country and province like British Columbia. There just simply could not be any elevation of degradation beyond killing women and feeding their bodies to pigs. Even when a jury convicted Pickten of second degree murder because, as I understood it, they believed other people must have been involved, I did not want to give credence to these inmate’s stories. But lately, I’m not so sure. And these doubts have been prompted, by of all things, an article in the Times Colonist.
Sept. 29, Pickton inquiry already off track
“Former attorney general Wally Oppal is the wrong choice to head the Pickten inquiry. Its credibility has been dealt a serious blow before the work even begins.”
And the article goes on to point out that Oppal’s appointment creates a perception of bias and conflict of interest. As former attorney general he sat at the cabinet table and discussed policy issues that could well be part of the inquiry’s focus. And he defended the Liberal government’s position on policing and other relevant issues. When he was Attorney General he tried to keep evidence from an inquiry into the death of Frank Paul, a native man dumped in an alleyway and left to die and he was, until he was defeated 16 months ago, a partisan politician. That is, a liberal hack. And Oppal will not, according to The Times Colonist (hardly a left leaning paper) recommend for sweeping change, including a regional police force, and the very terms of reference will prevent the commission from addressing relevant issues like how did it happen that these women’s disappearance was treated so trivially by everybody in charge? The women I heard talk in prison think they know. They think the grisly truth is that criminal gangs were making “snuff” films at Pickton’s farm. Evidently there are men in the world who will pay big money for videos of women being murdered and dismembered. Could it be true? Well, certainly Wally Oppal’s commission won’t find out.

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