Vancouver Riots Review: Olympics Head John Furlong, Nova Scotia Official Doug Keefe To Head Panel
VANCOUVER - People who would provide an out-of-province perspective as well as local knowledge were sought to conduct an independent review of the riot that followed the final Stanley Cup game in Vancouver, says the B.C. government.
Doug Keefe, Nova Scotia's former deputy justice minister, and John Furlong, who headed the Vancouver committee that organized the 2010 Winter Olympics, will be analyzing what led to the looting, window smashing and torching of cars in the city's downtown core on June 15.
The Public Safety Ministry announced the appointments Tuesday, and Solicitor General Shirley Bond was set to introduce Keefe and Furlong during a telephone news conference later in the day.
"The review will be based on the assumption that Vancouver will continue to be a city that wants to continue to experience the full use of our vibrant public spaces to celebrate safely and responsibly," said a news release sent jointly by the ministry, the City of Vancouver and the Vancouver Police Board.
"The province, City of Vancouver and Vancouver Police Department are committed to fully co-operating with Keefe and Furlong toward the timely completion of their review," the release said.
The review is expected to be completed on Aug. 31, with a report to be publicly released.
Keefe is a lawyer and consultant who retired from government in 2007 after nearly 30 years of service.He oversaw an inquiry into the Westray Mine disaster in 1992, when 26 miners died after a methane explosion. He also played a major role in supporting Nova Scotia's chief medical examiner after 229 people died in the crash of Swissair Flight 111 in the province in 1998.
"There's hardly been a disaster in Nova Scotia between 1985 and 2007 that I haven't been involved in," Keefe says in an online profile.
Furlong was the face of the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver.
He was named an Officer of the Order of Canada and received the Order of B.C. after more than a decade of work towards bringing the Games to the city and steering their organization.
The riot erupted after more than 100,000 people gathered in downtown Vancouver, where three giant outdoor televisions broadcast Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final as the Boston Bruins beat the Vancouver Canucks.
Mayhem evolved from bottle throwing to cars being flipped and set ablaze to window smashing and looting of dozens of businesses that suffered an estimated $5 million in damage.
Vancouver Police Chief Jim Chu has repeatedly declined to release the number of officers deployed in the area, citing operational and public safety reasons.
But in a message posted on the Delta Police website, Chief Jim Cessford said more than 800 officers were in the downtown core, although they were vastly outnumbered by the crowd.
Cessford noted that while questions have been asked about whether police were prepared to handle rioters, forces from surrounding cities worked together to make preparations at the beginning of the playoffs.
"Police showed great restraint and professionalism in dealing with the highly charged crowds and exigent circumstances," he said in his online note. "In many cases, there was no choice but to be aggressive with defiant and intoxicated agitators that were only there to disturb the peace."
Cessford declined to comment further on Tuesday, but Acting Sgt. Cal Traversy said the purpose of the message was to show support for Chu's force.