By Terri Saunders
Front Page - Tuesday, March 28, 2006 @ 10:00

It could be months, perhaps years, before the Cornwall Public Inquiry gets to hear from the victims of child sexual abuse whose experiences are at the heart of the commission.

Two issues have been brought forth at the inquiry which, until resolved, could hold the inquiry hostage.

The argument as to whether the Alexandria-Cornwall Roman Catholic Diocese is a public institution under the inquiry’s mandate began Monday afternoon.A second issue centres around whether victims should be allowed to testify about the abuse they suffered as children. That submission is expected to be heard Wednesday.

If Comm. Normand Glaude determines the diocese should be considered a public institution for the purposes of the inquiry, or decides to exclude victim testimony, the appeal process which is certain to follow has the potential of either slowing down the inquiry or even grinding it to a halt.

“If this is allowed, there likely won’t be a complete boycott by victims but there may be some individuals who choose not to participate,” said Rob Talach, an attorney for The Victims Group. “There will be a real problem if the matter goes to appeal.”