No evidence of sexism by staff at Missing Women inquiry,  probe finds


VANCOUVER -- An investigation into anonymous allegations of sexism, harassment and intimidation by staff working for the Missing Women commission of inquiry has found no evidence to substantiate the claims.

Peter Gall, the lawyer appointed by the inquiry to oversee the investigation, issued a media statement today saying the report has been completed.

"The conclusion of this report is: There was no evidence presented during this investigation that constituted a breach of the Human Rights Code by commission managers or senior staff, including Mr. [John ] Boddie," Gall's statement said.

Boddie, the executive director of the Missing Women inquiry, took a paid leave of absence during the investigation at the request of Commissioner Wally Oppal.

"He took this leave of absence because of his commitment to the important work being done through this commission of inquiry. He did not want any misperceptions to occur during the independent investigation," Gall said.

"Mr. Boddie's leave of absence should in no way be interpreted as anything except a necessary precaution and it does not reflect on his personal or professional integrity."

Now that the independent investigation is complete, Gall added, Boddie will return to the Missing Women inquiry as executive director.

The investigation was launched after an article was published on April 4, 2012 in the National Post, which contained allegations from anonymous sources of "harassment, intimidation and conflict" occurring within the working environment of the Missing Women inquiry.

The investigation report, done by Vancouver lawyers Delayne Sartison and Gabrielle Scorer, said: "This investigation was unusual in that there was no identifiable complainant. The investigation was undertaken after anonymous reports of sex based discrimination in the commission workplace. The purpose of the investigation was to determine whether such discrimination had occurred.

"In light of the fact that there is no specific complainant, our analysis of the prima fade test for discrimination in employment on the basis of sex is based on the evidence obtained from the witnesses we interviewed.

"As noted there was no direct evidence of gender-based discrimination in employment on the basis of sex. Further, other concerns or challenges communicated by some of the staff interviewed were not attributed, even by those staff, to gender bias. Accordingly, one cannot reasonably infer that any alleged adverse treatment in employment was based, even in part, on gender. In short, while evidence of differential treatment may, at times, provide a basis for a finding of discrimination, there is insufficient evidence to draw any such a conclusion here.

"We conclude that there has been no evidence presented during this investigation which establishes that conduct constituting workplace discrimination or harassment in violation of the B.C. Human Rights Code occurred in the Commission workplace."Oppal also issued a statement today, saying "we can now put this issue behind us and focus on producing a valuable report with practical recommendations that can be implemented, measured and that will help to save lives in the future."

Oppal's report was scheduled to be completed by the end of this month but the government has granted a four-month extension, to the end of October.

The inquiry probed why the Vancouver police and the RCMP failed to catch serial killer Robert Pickton sooner.

Despite tips about Pickton received by Vancouver police in 1998, he wasn't arrested until February 2002.

Police eventually found the DNA and remains of 33 women on Pickton's farm in Port Coquitlam.

He was convicted of six murders in 2007 but once admitted he killed 49 women, who disappeared from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

The full report is posted online here:

Here is Oppal's full statement issued today:

June 13, 2012 - Media Statement from Commissioner Wally Oppal

The independent investigation in response to anonymous allegations published in the National Post is complete. The report concludes that there was no breach of the Human Rights Code by Commission managers or senior staff.

Mr. Boddie agreed to take a leave of absence during this investigation. He did this so there could be no possible perception of any management interference in the independent investigation as, in his role as executive director, he interacted daily with almost all staff and counsel. I want to express my appreciation to Mr. Boddie for putting the important work of the Commission ahead of his own needs. I know that this has been a difficult time for him and his family. I am also aware that Mr. Boddie's leave of absence may have been misinterpreted in some circles. I want to make it clear that his leave of absence does not reflect negatively on his personal or professional integrity.

I have asked Mr. Boddie to return to an active role at the Commission and he has accepted.

These anonymous allegations were devastating to everyone at the Commission. It is to the credit of Commission staff and counsel that these allegations did not distract them from the important work being done here. Our focus is and has always been to produce an effective Report and Recommendations that will save the lives of our most vulnerable citizens.

I want to take a moment to acknowledge and to thank the people that work at this Commission. It is a demanding environment and our work is focused on an unimaginable tragedy - the worst mass murder to ever occur in Canadian history. The people that come to work here every day are focused on horrific events and this type of work is emotionally challenging, even for seasoned professionals.

Commission staff and counsel work long hours, on weekends and holidays, and they regularly sacrifice personal and family time in order to do their jobs. They are passionate about creating positive change through the work being done at this Commission. Like every office, we have our share of workplace challenges: budget issues, personality conflicts, deadlines and urgent demands both in the office and in the courtroom. It is not an easy place to work. And yet, each day, I am witness to their unwavering dedication and commitment to social change. I am honoured to work with professionals of their calibre.

With the independent investigation concluded, we can now put this issue behind us and focus on producing a valuable report with practical recommendations that can be implemented, measured and that will help to save lives in the future.




Missing Women Tip Line: 1-877-687-3377

Updated: August 21, 2016