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On this Day in Our History: Commissioner rules on ‘explosive’ tape

Oct. 12, 2004

A decision was released Oct. 12 by the Ipperwash inquiry into the death of protester Dudley George to keep an audiotape described as "explosive" from the public for just a little while longer.

That was the result of a long, closed session involving Chief Commissioner Sidney Linden and about two dozen lawyers who represented various parties with standing at the inquiry.

Lawyers could not discuss details because of the inquiry's confidentiality rules, but some media outlets reported the tape was of a conversation between two senior Ontario Provincial Police officers, recorded just before the fatal police shooting of George on Sept. 6, 1995.

Upon hearing the tape, the victim's brother, Sam George, concluded that racism and politics played a role in Dudley’s death. The family had filed a wrongful death lawsuit against former Ontario premier Mike Harris, several members of his Cabinet and senior police officials, but dropped the lawsuit when Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty called the inquiry earlier in 2004.

Two parties—the Chiefs of Ontario and the George family group—made motions to the chief commissioner asking him to immediately release the tapes.

"The parties to the conversation on the audio recordings, as well as the parties mentioned in the discussions, will be called as witnesses," Linden wrote in his decision. "These witnesses will be called in a manner and at a time to be determined at the discretion of the commission counsel, and consistent with the duty of commission counsel to present evidence in a balanced, orderly and logical fashion."

Linden also wrote in the six-page decision that he was concerned that a "wholesale dumping" of evidence into the public realm before the evidence is dealt with during the inquiry hearings could lead to lawyers arguing their cases "in the media rather than in the inquiry.”

For more on our coverage of the Ipperwash Inquiry or to review other Indigenous related stories, look to our archives at http://AMMSA.com .

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