NEWS

Coroner’s inquest into death of RCMP officer will proceed

08/06/2012 06:30 EDT | Updated 10/06/2012 05:12 EDT
The Yukon coroner's office says an inquest into the drowning death of an RCMP officer will proceed as planned.

Earlier this year, the federal government tried to block the inquest into the death of Const. Michael Potvin two years ago.

Potvin drowned in the Stewart River near Mayo on July 13, 2010 after the RCMP patrol boat he was in capsized.

The coroner intended to call witnesses to testify about the history of the boat as well as RCMP practices and policies at the inquest scheduled for May of this year.

But the federal government challenged the coroner’s authority to look into the cause of death, arguing that the territory had no right to conduct an inquiry into the internal workings of the RCMP. Canada's Attorney General also said the RCMP has improved safety for its officers thereby eliminating the need for an inquest.

However, territorial court judge Karen Ruddy, who was named as the coroner to hear the case, has ruled those matters are the business of the coroner’s office.

As long as the office does not try to lay blame or force changes on the RCMP, Ruddy said the inquest can go ahead

Potvin’s family wants a full inquiry

Ruddy noted that Potvin’s family wants a full inquiry and as an important member of the community, the people of Mayo have a right to know how he died. In addition, Ruddy said they have a right to know that search and rescue equipment is in good working order.

In the past, at least eight investigations have been conducted by the RCMP, transportation officials, independent prosecutors and Human Resources and Skills Development Canada but few findings were released to the public.

The coroner’s inquest will be held this fall.

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