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The allegations have yet to be proven in court.
Merchant told the court federal counsel is expected to argue a number of things, including that other, non-RCMP police forces were involved as well and were, in various instances, the agencies who in fact launched the investigations. But Merchant argued the RCMP plays a role nonetheless, given missing persons investigations have a scope beyond the local. In Dianne’s case, Merchant said the Regina Police Service sent her to the RCMP when it was learned Danita was no longer in the city.
Dianne claims the RCMP failed to help her — an allegation levelled by the other families as well in relation to their own cases.
In order to take the matters to trial, Merchant and his co-counsel will need to show “some basis in fact” that the proposed class action has met the requirements for certification. He argued it’s not up to McVeigh to weigh evidence or decide on the strength of the case; rather, he said her role is simply to decide whether the plaintiffs have met the established criteria for class action certification.
He referred to inquiries and reports into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls and argued assurances by the federal government that it would act on recommendations have so far come to nothing. He said it’s not for the court to rule on government intentions, but rather what it has actually done — or not done — to date.
He added that even though there is evidence the RCMP is now striving to do better, the court’s job will not be to rule on present or future circumstances, but rather what damages should be assigned for wrongs already committed.
Speaking outside of court, Merchant said his clients’ position is that the government “ought to have acted on the recommendations of the (federal MMIWG) inquiry, particularly from this government which has generally been supportive of Indigenous issues.”
“We hope to force the government to do what they ought responsibly to have done already,” he said.