HALIFAX — Opposition leaders in Ottawa and Nova Scotia are calling for further investigation into why the RCMP destroyed potential evidence in the criminal proceedings against a Halifax man who was wrongfully convicted of murder.
Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says an outside probe is needed to examine why an RCMP investigator’s research on other suspects was destroyed in the lead-up to Glen Assoun’s unsuccessful 2006 appeal.
“Techniques employed by police in this case are very concerning and raise questions about how fairly the accused are treated in our criminal justice system,” Singh said in an emailed statement.
Assoun was convicted in 1999 of the knifing murder of Brenda Way four years earlier. He spent almost 17 years in prison and over four years on bail before being exonerated earlier this year.
Singh is calling on Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale to “immediately order a review of this case to figure out what went wrong.”
Green party Leader Elizabeth May says an inquiry should probe the ”disturbing” destruction of potential evidence prepared by Const. Dave Moore, an analyst in an RCMP unit that looked at the behaviour of serial offenders.
Federal Conservative leader Andrew Scheer’s office said he has no comment because there may eventually be a lawsuit, and Goodale declined an interview.
On Tuesday, Nova Scotia Justice Minister Mark Furey was cleared by the province’s conflict of interest commissioner to review the file, despite the cabinet minister’s 32-year career as a Mountie.
Furey issued a statement saying, “I will now review this matter in detail and consider next steps in consultation with my federal colleagues.”
Meanwhile, the leader of the provincial Progressive Conservative Party in Nova Scotia, Tim Houston, is also calling for “an investigation of some sort,” while Gary Burrill, the leader of the provincial NDP says an independent inquiry is needed.
“We need to understand what went wrong,” Houston said in an interview. “Whether that raises to the level of public inquiry or not, I’m not sure. But I’d want to see an independent investigation to see what went wrong and how to prevent this from happening again in the future.”
A federal Justice Department report made public on July 12 revealed that the RCMP erased and disposed of Moore’s theories of other suspects — including multiple murderer Michael McGray — in the Brenda Way case.
The federal report also says McGray has denied killing Way.
The department’s preliminary assessment, which led to Assoun’s release in 2014, was released after an application by The Canadian Press, the CBC and the Halifax Examiner.