Alberta Review Board chairwoman resigns; says she received no government support

EDMONTON — The chairwoman of the Alberta Review Board says she has decided to resign after months of what she characterizes as banging her head against a wall.

Jill Taylor sent her resignation letter Wednesday after less than six months with the independent tribunal that reviews cases of people who have been deemed not criminally responsible for a crime or have been found unfit to stand trial because of mental disorders.

“There are critical unresolved issues which are forcing my resignation,” she wrote in the letter. “I am increasingly feeling used and unheard by Alberta Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer.”

In an interview, Taylor said she tried to get a meeting with Schweitzer soon after she started on June 1.

“I was turned down. I was told it wouldn’t be appropriate for me to meet with the minister,” she said.

Taylor said she then became concerned by the minister’s comments on Twitter in October after the board ruled that Matthew de Grood, a schizophrenic man who killed five young people in Calgary, could be eased back into the community with his doctor’s approval.

“I’ve heard from many Albertans who are frustrated and disturbed by this decision,” Schweitzer wrote on Oct. 3. “I’ll be formally requesting that Alberta’s review board ensure a maximum possible role for victims to be part of the hearing process and advocating that Ottawa conduct a review of standards of release.”

Taylor said she welcomed a review of how the board works and immediately wrote another letter asking Schweitzer to meet.

“I heard nothing,” she said.

She tried going through her member of the legislature, Mike Ellis, who told her to expect a call from the minister within 24 to 48 hours.

“I am still waiting for that call,” said Taylor.

Schweitzer’s office emailed a statement from the minister that said he accepted her resignation.

“It is with regret that Ms. Taylor, who was appointed by the previous government on the eve of the election, felt the need to criticize the Ministry of Justice and solicitor general in the media upon her resignation,” said the statement.

“While I have always respected the independence of the board and its quasi-judicial function and mandate, I make no apologies for standing up for the rights of victims in our criminal justice system.”

Schweitzer added that a review would be an opportunity for the board to put in place protocols that allow families and loved ones of victims of crime to participate more fully in hearings.

Taylor said she thought her appointment was based on merit.

“In fact, if the NDP had looked at my background, they would see that I come from a very long line of strong conservatives,” she said.

Now, she said, she wonders whether she was stonewalled because she was appointed by the NDP.

Taylor said she’s worried about the board’s future, because there are several appointments that need to be filled and the board won’t be able to hold timely hearings if that isn’t addressed.

“I’m hoping by making public statements and I’m hoping that my resignation will actually do something positive, which is draw the necessary attention to this board,” she said. “It’s important work.

“These people are the most vulnerable and dangerous people in our community and this board is tasked with balancing those individuals’ right to reintegration with the safety of the public. That’s a very important role.

“I just felt like I was banging my head against a wall and I am hoping this will shine a light, but I’m done.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 20, 2019.

Colette Derworiz, The Canadian Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Central zone has 20 active cases of COVID-19

Province identified 143 new cases across Alberta on Wednesday

Province should set mask policy, says city councillor

Digital conference will raise issues of local concern

Education taxes, ambulance dispatch concern Red Deer city councillors at AUMA meeting

The digital convention will raise issues of local concern

High school’s student’s anti-racism video offers hope

Jose Jordan got dozens of high school students to participate

Trail closed near Red Deer water treatment plant until Nov. 1

Construction on intake in river continuing

Liberals vow wage-subsidy extension to 2021, revamp of EI system in throne speech

Canadian labour market was hammered by pandemic, when lockdowns in the spring led to a loss of 3 million jobs

Missionary plane dedicated at Ponoka, Lacombe airports

MiracleAir flies humanitarian missions to Nicaragua

Back to school preparations put staff and students at risk

A greater percentage of parents in Alberta have chosen online education than in any other province

Michael Dawe: Battle against Typhoid fever was hard for Red Deer to win

Much of Red Deer and central Alberta’s history included outbreaks of serious contagious diseases

Father Henri Voisin School student remembered

Julie Burke Memorial Bench unveiled

Adversity just part of a ‘weird year’ for Montreal Impact: Thierry Henry

Impact look to rebound when they visit the New England Revolution

Tokyo Olympics CEO suggests relaxed entry rules for athletes

IOC consider many scenarios for how games can open on July 23, 2021

Elton John announces new North American dates for final tour

‘Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour’ returns in 2022

Most Read