Remember when I wrote Minister Cotler back in July about evidence retention in criminal cases? (take my word for it, I did)

Well six months later he wrote back (actually I received this about a month ago; I’ve just been too disheartened to post it):

The Honourable Irwin Cotler

Bigshotsville, Canada


November 29, 2004

John Allore

Nowheresville, U.S.A.

Dear Mr. Allore:

Thank you for your correspondence concerning the retention of physical evidence in criminal cases. I regret the delay in responding.

I recognize that your concerns arise from the criminal investigation into the death of your sister Theresa. While this sad event happened some years ago, it must still be a matter of deep personal loss, and I would first like to express my sincere sympathies.

I note your steadfast commitment to obtaining answers concerning your sister’s death. As Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, I am unable to comment regarding individual cases or particular criminal investigations, but I hope that answers and a resolution of this matter may still be possible, despite the passage of years.

The specific question you have raised concerns standards for the retention of evidence in criminal cases and, in particular, whether this is a matter of legislation or whether this is a matter of procedure within individual police forces. There do exist a number of provisions in federal laws, such as the Criminal Code and the Seized Property Management Act, that govern the collection and retention of certain types of physical evidence. The matter raised by you, however, is, at the federal level, largely a matter of police procedure. I note that you remain interested in the particular procedures within the RCMP. Since the RCMP falls under the responsibility of my colleague the Honourable Anne McLellan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, I have taken the liberty of forwarding to her a copy of your correspondence as she may be able to provide additional information in this regard.

Thank you again for writing.

Yours sincerely,

Irwin Cotler

That’s it? It took them six months to pass the buck?

You know, it’s a little like that scene in A Christmas Story where the kid waits months to get a secret decoder ring, only to find the secret message is DRINK YOUR OVALTENE.

Well, guess I’ll wait another six months for McLellan to respond: great, I’ll wait a whole year to have them say, “Dear Mr. Allore… we don’t know the answer to your question”.

I must say, this is the first letter from a bureaucrat in which they acknowledged Theresa and managed to spell her name right (we must take our victories where we find them).


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