No audiotapes, yet

Wed, October 13, 2004

A BID TO immediately release two "explosive" audiotapes at the judicial inquiry into the shooting of native protester Dudley George ran into a brick wall yesterday. Justice Sidney Linden dismissed all motions calling for the tapes to be immediately made public, but emphasized the material will be released later at the inquiry.

"The parties to the conversations on the audio recordings, as well as the parties mentioned in the discussions, will be called as witnesses," Justice Linden said.

"These witnesses will be called in a manner and at a time to be determined at the discretion of commission counsel and consistent with the duty of commission counsel to present evidence in a balanced, orderly and logical fashion," he ruled.

Lead commission counsel Derry Millar said the tapes now probably won't be released by the inquiry until after Christmas.

In calling for early release of the tapes, Sam George, a brother of Dudley, had said the recorded conversation showed why his brother died in September 1995.

The tapes reportedly contain a conversation between a senior Ontario Provincial Police officer at Ipperwash Provincial Park and a colleague at Queen's Park on the day Dudley George was killed by an OPP officer during a confrontation between police and natives.

Linden said immediately releasing the material could fundamentally alter the nature of public inquiries and make it more important for participants to argue their cases in the media rather than at the inquiry.

"That is not a process I wish to contribute to," he said.

Peter Downard, lawyer for former Ontario premier Mike Harris, said Justice Linden's decision not to immediately release the tapes was "very well reasoned. We have to do this matter one step at a time."