Public Inquiries in Canada: A Lawyer’s Perspective

Public Inquiries in Canada: A Lawyer’s Perspective

OTTAWA PUBLIC INQUIRY LAWYER – Public inquiries are a helpful democratic tool to investigate issues of national interest, when other investigations may not be enough.

Ottawa criminal defence lawyer Richard Auger specializes in public inquiries, and he’s been involved in several that made national headlines over the past decade.

The 2004 Gomery Inquiry, which investigated federal government sponsorship programs, saw Richard Auger representing Chuck Guité, a civil servant and key witness.

In 2009 the Oliphant Commission, another federal public inquiry,was called to look into business dealings between Karlheinz Schreiber and former Canadian PM Brian Mulroney. Richard acted as Mr. Schreiber’s lawyer, representing the businessman’s interests throughout the process.

And as Canadians prepare for a new public inquiry investigating Robert Pickton, and the alleged murders of multiple British Columbia residents, an understanding of the process behind these inquiries is important and valuable – how does an inquiry work, and where do lawyers come in?

A public inquiry, as defined by Jay Makarenko in this helpful online overview, is “an official review, ordered by government, of important public events or issues” at either the federal, provincial, or territorial level.

How is a public inquiry different from the legal proceedings of a criminal case?

  • Facts and input don’t just come from either side of the dispute. They can typically be submitted by anyone, even members of the general public.
  • A public inquiry’s final report cannot force the government to take any action – it’s not legally binding. Rather, it serves as a recommendation for changes to prevent the problem from occuring again.
  • Sometimes, public inquiries don’t investigate unethical behaviour at all – they are simply set up to find facts and information on a broad area of public policy.

So if there’s no legally binding outcome, why bring a lawyer onboard for a public inquiry? The answer is simple: lawyers help witnesses and other key participants by organizing and preparing the appropriate information, and then representing them during hearings, cross-examinations, and other public inquiry proceedings.

If you’re preparing to participate in a public inquiry, it’s smart to speak with an experienced lawyer who can represent you throughout the course of the investigation. For more information, contact the Ottawa criminal defence lawyers at Auger Hollingsworth by phone (613) 233-4529 or by email [email protected]

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