Cornwall inquiry told to report by next July
CORNWALL, Ont. - A long-running and costly inquiry into how institutions responded to allegations of sexual abuse in eastern Ontario was given a firm end date Thursday by the Ontario government, which wants the final report next July.
The inquiry in Cornwall, Ont., has been told by the attorney general's office to hear all evidence by Jan. 30, and to wrap closing submissions by the end of February.
Commissioner Normand Glaude's report is due by the end of July 2009.
"I intend to do everything I can to meet the timelines established," Glaude said in a statement Thursday.
While Glaude said the deadlines roughly matched the timeline he had laid out for the evidentiary hearings, the commissioner added that the second phase of the inquiry, which deals with healing and reconciliation, will be affected.
"We will do our best to reorganize activities to the extent possible," Glaude said of the programs, which include research, an advisory panel and public meetings.
Counselling support, however, will continue for up to 90 days past the July 31 deadline.
Earlier deadlines for the hearings, submissions and final report were set by the government, but were pushed back 30 days after consultation with Glaude, said Attorney General Chris Bentley.
"I think it's important the people of Ontario get the information and the advice as quickly as possible so that we can put the advice to good use," Bentley said in Toronto.
"We formalized the dates and then, after discussions with the commissioner, extended the dates by a month to make sure that we got the best possible advice."
The inquiry was called in 2005 to examine how officials dealt with long-standing allegations of sexual abuse in the community.
Testimony began in February 2006, and about 140 witnesses have since testified.
As of last summer the running tab for the inquiry was $37 million, said Bentley, who added "it's not done yet."
Among the more sensational allegations was that a pedophile ring operated in the area.
A provincial police investigation subsequently led to 114 charges against 15 men, but found no evidence of a ring.
Ultimately, only one person was convicted. Four died before their cases came to trial, four were acquitted, four had the charges against them withdrawn, and two had the charges against them stayed over delays.
Earlier this month, a former police officer who was jailed for refusing to testify before the inquiry was released from an Ottawa jail after serving seven months.
Perry Dunlop was instrumental in sparking the judicial inquiry, but he refused to testify at the inquiry and defied court orders to do so, saying he had lost faith in the justice system.