Disclosure concerns
Slow access to witness interviews in Morin inquiry

Jeff Colbourne
Northern News Services

NNSL (Sep 18/98) - Questions over the disclosure of information in the Don Morin Inquiry arose when lawyers met via tele-conference for a preliminary hearing Tuesday.

Though most witness interviews have been done in the investigation, commission counsel says it takes time to accurately sum up the information and make it available.

"We understand our obligation to provide Mr. Hustwick (Morin's counsel) with can-say statements. Nine of these statements have been prepared and delivered to Mr. Hustwick's office," said Kent Davidson, commission counsel.

"We understand we are obliged to have all of those summary witness statements provided at least two weeks prior to the hearing. We will provide what statements we can when they're prepared."

Davidson hopes to have remaining statements sent to Morin's lawyers and other participants within two weeks.

Rod Payne, co-counsel for Premier Morin was first to voice his concerns about the time it's taking for summaries of witness statements to come forward.

He said it was only last Friday that he received nine statements from witnesses, giving him only a short time to meet with witnesses -- who can choose to meet with him or not -- before the Oct. 13 inquiry start date.

"I can't understand why it has taken a month and a half," said Payne from his Edmonton office. "It doesn't make sense."

Payne also took exception with commission counsel's decision not to give detailed accounts of interviews with witnesses who will not be called to testify in the inquiry.

The general description of the subject matter and name of the witness would be sufficient, said Davidson. Conflict Commissioner Anne Crawford concurred.

A final point commission counsel brought up that sparked the interest of Payne and Mike Mrdjenovich's lawyer Allan Lefever was over the calling of a bison expert to testify in relation to one of the terms of reference named in the inquiry.

"I don't know if it's an expert in animals or an expert in construction or what," said Lefever.

Davidson, reluctant to go into too much detail about the type of evidence he planned to bring forward, said the expect will bring to light the cost of the construction, operation and maintenance of a bison herd in Fort Resolution and the value of bison.

Conflict of Interest Commissioner Anne Crawford asked Davidson to make available the expert witness interview summary to Payne and Lefever at least 21 days before he is called to testify.

To end the meeting lawyers agreed to meet on Sept. 28 at 9 p.m. to discuss any further preliminary issues that may come up in the coming weeks.