Excerpt from the Official Report of
DEBATES OF THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY

(Hansard)


March 4, 2015

Funding for workers and families participating in Lakeland Mills explosion inquest

S. Simpson: I attended the first day of the inquest into the deaths of Alan Little and Glen Roche. After the widows of the deceased both made very emotional and dignified presentations, Mr. Brian Primrose, a 30-year employee of Lakeland, spent the rest of the day on the stand — about five hours.

Mr. Primrose was an articulate and thoughtful witness about the tragedy at Lakeland. Unfortunately, he was essentially on his own. While the parties — all the parties: the company, the union, the safety council, WorkSafe and the coroner — all have teams of lawyers there, there was, essentially, no one who truly was representing the victims. A series of lawyers cross-examined Mr. Primrose about complex issues that he had no help preparing for.

The victims have a right to support in preparing for their time on the stand, and they have none. Will the Attorney General immediately make funds available to allow the victims to hire their own legal counsel before this inquest loses any credibility due to the real inequity in how people are being treated?

...

S. Simpson: The day that I was there the coroner's counsel was the first to interview the witness, Mr. Primrose. He started by presenting him with a series of photos that Mr. Primrose had never seen — had no idea — and was asked to explain these photos of the mill and what they were and where they were. And he had never seen them. That was the degree of preparation that the coroner's counsel provided to him.

These people were the victims of an explosion. We cannot allow them to become the victims of an inquest. When the opposition asked for resources to ensure independent legal counsel for the victims, we were told that the coroner's counsel would fulfil that role. It's not happening in any way. It does not resemble in any way the legal representation that everybody else has at that table.

The victims need their own voice at the table. They need to be assured that their questions are being asked and being answered. Will the minister approve resources today to ensure that they have their own legal counsel and get the answers and the satisfaction they need?

http://www.leg.bc.ca/hansard/40th4th/20150304pm-House-Blues.htm

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