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Inquiry to resume April 15

THE inquiry into the death of Phoenix Sinclair will resume April 15.

The often-delayed probe's latest setback follows a conflict of interest involving a law firm representing a number of social workers as well as the General Authority, their superiors who run Manitoba's child-welfare agencies. New lawyers will now represent the General Authority at the inquiry and need time to prepare, commissioner Ted Hughes has said.

The inquiry was ordered by the province to examine how the little girl, in and out of care from the time she was born in 2000, fell through Manitoba's child-welfare safety net. She was murdered in 2005 by her mother and stepfather but her death wasn't discovered by authorities until nine months later.

Peguis case thrown out

A federal judge has denied a court challenge by Peguis First Nation seeking to force Ottawa to sell it the Kapyong Barracks land.

Justice Judith Snider, in a ruling March 13, dismissed the entire case as a waste of the court's time.

"I hope that the applicants, in any such future application, are much more knowledgeable of the Federal Courts Rules and what relief can or cannot be sought," Snider wrote.

Peguis wanted the court to order Canada to sell Peguis the barracks land on the same terms and conditions it had planned to sell it to the Canada Lands Co. in 2007. Peguis also wanted Canada found in contempt of another court order, issued in December, to consult four First Nations, including Peguis, before proceeding with any sale of the land in question.

The court order, issued in December, was the latest decision in a battle between Ottawa and First Nations over the 64.7 hectares occupied by Kapyong Barracks. After the December decision, Peguis made an offer to buy the land and went to Federal Court when Ottawa declined the offer.

Sinclair's family appeals

LAWYERS for the family of Brian Sinclair were in court Wednesday in an attempt to put their lawsuit against the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority and the province back on the rails.

The family says in its $1.6-million lawsuit that the WRHA and the province violated Sinclair's charter rights and allowed the Health Sciences Centre emergency room to operate even though it constituted a public nuisance to vulnerable aboriginal patients.

But last year, Court of Queen's Bench Master Shayne Berthaudin said the family doesn't have a case to make on those grounds and it can't proceed.

Sinclair's family appealed the ruling, and in a hearing this week, their lawyer, Vilko Zbogar, argued Berthaudin made a mistake. "It appears the doctrine of public nuisance in some respects is a poorly understood area of the law," Zbogar told Justice Kenneth Hanssen.

Sinclair, a 45-year-old double amputee, was found dead in his wheelchair in HSC's emergency waiting room on Sept. 21, 2008. He died of a treatable bladder infection caused by a blocked catheter, after waiting 34 hours for care.

A provincial inquest to examine the Sinclair case and emergency-room procedures is set for August.

Government lawyer Heather Leonoff told Hanssen the Sinclair family's case is legally flawed. She said Brian Sinclair's charter rights died with him and can't be brought by his estate.

-- staff

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 22, 2013 A7

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