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Taman stream of consciousness - The Last

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We have arrived at the final day of hearings, which will feature submissions from counsel representing Derek Harvey-Zenk, the off-duty cop who killed Crystal Taman, Marty Minuk, the special prosecutor who cut the plea bargain, and Manitoba Justice. As was the case Wednesday, this is the last opportunity for these lawyers to create sympathy for their clients before inquiry commissioner Roger Salhany writes his final report.Wednesday's proceedings certainly left the impression Salhany is growing short-tempered with some of the arguments being put before him. In particular, Salhany was quite animated about the submission of Shannon Hanlin, counsel for the Winnipeg Police Service. He expressed anger about the manner and substance of her arguments to such an extent, she quite obviously cut short her oral submission. On Thursday morning, Salhany opened proceedings with an apology to Hanlin and lauded her written submission.Out of this exchange, however, many in the hearing room are wondering whether Salhany is merely exhausted and stressed by the pace of the inquiry - which has been brisk - or whether this is a tell on his frustration with the sometimes untenable arguments they made in defence of the police officers and prosecutors involved in this tragedy.Despite the fact that judges are trained to be dispassionate, throughout proceedings Salhany (a retired judge of the Ontario Superior Court) has demonstrated a lack of patience with untenable or clumsy arguments. Part of this is due to the fact he has been quite open about not going to go into overtime to finish testimony or submissions. Are these flashes of anger a preview of his final assessment of the performance of police and prosecutors in this case? Or is this confirmation that Salhany is a judge who takes pride in being punctual in all that he does, and doesn't suffer those who don't share his work eithic? We won't know for sure until we read the final report.Lawyer Jay Prober, who represents Harvey-Zenk, delivered a brief but pointed submission. He chastized media for reporting earlier in the inquiry on facts harmful to Harvey-Zenk's reputation that were later shown to be erroneous. He also pointed out that while the public is angry about the consequences of Harvey-Zenk's actions, he did nothing himself to derail the investigation or prosecution, which is the true subject of this inquiry.There had been much speculation that Prober would offer a new apology on behalf of his client. Harvey-Zenk did not make an apology while on the stand at the inquiry, despite being afforded the chance by commission counsel. He was soundly criticized for that decision.Prober addressed this concern by reading into the inquiry record the extensive apology he offered at his sentencing last year. The apology does seem, on the face of it, to be very heartfelt although it is understandable the Taman family is not moved by his words. Taman's husband, Robert Taman, and his entire family walked out of the hearings on Wednesday when counsel for Winnipeg Police was making his final submission. They did not leave when Prober was making his submission, although there was a moment when Robert Taman pushed his chair back and appeared on the edge of leaving.More later.....-30-

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About Dan Lett

Dan Lett came to Winnipeg in 1986, less than a year out of journalism school.

Despite the fact that he’s originally from Toronto and has a fatal attraction to the Maple Leafs, Winnipeggers let him stay.

In the following years, he has worked at bureaus covering every level of government – from city hall to the national bureau in Ottawa.

He has had bricks thrown at him in riots following the 1995 Quebec referendum, wrote stories that helped in part to free three wrongly convicted men, met Fidel Castro, interviewed three Philippine presidents, crossed several borders in Africa illegally, chased Somali pirates in a Canadian warship and had several guns pointed at him.

In other words, he’s had every experience a journalist could even hope for. He has also been fortunate enough to be a two-time nominee for a National Newspaper Award, winning in 2003 for investigations.

Other awards include the B’Nai Brith National Human Rights Media Award and nominee for the Michener Award for Meritorious Public Service in Journalism.

Now firmly rooted in Winnipeg, Dan visits Toronto often but no longer pines to live there.


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