Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Disclose the full police report at Sinclair inquest

  • Print

The inquest into the 2008 death of Brian Sinclair at Health Sciences Centre's ER has heard a controversial police investigation report will not be tendered as evidence. If the full report is not made available for public scrutiny, Manitobans may be deprived of a critical element in the story of how Mr. Sinclair died in the waiting room, and the roles of HSC staff in that affair.

An inquest is tasked precisely to find the circumstances and cause of an untoward death, particularly when public authorities were involved. But as with public inquiries, inquests are held to serve a broader public interest, as part of the accountability of those authorities.

The Winnipeg Police Service investigation was launched in the wake of the outcry that Mr. Sinclair, who died of a bladder infection from a blocked catheter, could have sat for 34 hours in the waiting without seeing a doctor or receiving medical attention. Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Thambirajah Balachandra revealed sometime after the death that the double amputee, who had a severe speech impediment, was approaching the triage desk before being redirected to the waiting room.

The police report was forwarded for opinion on criminal charges -- failing in professional duty can be considered criminal neglect -- to an out-of-province Crown attorney, who recommended none be laid. The public ought to be able to scrutinize that decision, especially since a critical-incident review by the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority will not be filed as evidence with the inquest, as per provincial statute.

Murray Trachtenberg, representing the Sinclair family, said Crown counsel David Frayer has provided Vol. 1 and 2 of the report to lawyers representing the various parties, but he wants all the exhibits the police report referred to but were not filed at the inquest.

The province says police reports are not filed as evidence at inquests, but they should be, particularly in a case that involves allegations of extraordinary neglect by medical and hospital personnel. Making public pieces of the report -- which may happen as lawyers examine witnesses -- is insufficient as it strips the report of scope and context. The public cannot rely on the lawyers of parties serving other interests to speak for the public.

The Fatality Inquiries Act, both expressly and in spirit, speaks to the role of inquests in protecting public interest, presided over by provincial court judges to ensure that review is full and transparent. A document can be redacted to protect personal privacy and irrelevant details. Justice Minister Andrew Swan must recognize this and lift any impediment to the WPS report's full disclosure.

Editorials are the consensus view of the Winnipeg Free Press’ editorial board, comprising Gerald Flood, Catherine Mitchell, David O’Brien and Paul Samyn.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 19, 2013 A8

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Family of Matias De Antonio speaks outside Law Courts

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A monarch butterfly looks for nectar in Mexican sunflowers at Winnipeg's Assiniboine Park Monday afternoon-Monarch butterflys start their annual migration usually in late August with the first sign of frost- Standup photo– August 22, 2011   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • A Canada goose protects her nest full of eggs Monday on campus at the University of Manitoba- Standup photo- Apr 30, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Do you agree with the province’s crackdown on flavoured tobacco products?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google