The judge from the Ontario Court of Appeal had quit four months into the job, citing “incurable harm” caused by his two co-commissioners’ “repeated” refusal to “acknowledge his authority and leadership” as chair (according to one media leak, La Forme asked his fellow commissioners to address him as “Your Honour”).
Three months later, his co-commissioners would follow him out the door.
“I hope not—but I have doubts.” What’s clear, however, is that the inquiry has hit a boiling point.
And everyone is feeling the heat as the team attempts to implement a sweeping—some say impossibly broad—mandate to “examine the systemic causes of all forms of violence against Indigenous women, girls and members of the LGBTQ2S community in Canada.” The soaring task of addressing a vast array of social ills within a two-year mandate quickly got caught on mundane logistical irritants such as outdated Blackberries, buggy computers and a palsied system for claiming expenses.
“The line I heard all the time was ‘we’re building the car and driving it at the same time,’” says Sue Montgomery, who resigned as the inquiry’s director of communications in June.“Well, call me crazy, but if you do that, you’re going to crash.” From left, Commissioners Marion Buller, Qajaq Robinson, Marilyn Poitras, Michele Audette and Brian Eyolfson listen during the announcement of the inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women at the Museum of History in Gatineau, Quebec on Wednesday, Aug. We have seen this all before, in fact: the whispers of a power struggle.Of a “toxic culture.” Of soul-destroying delays, high profile resignations, lost friendships and disagreements that could not be overcome.Maclean’s has spoken with more than a dozen well-placed sources, from family members of the murdered and lost who tried to engage with the inquiry, to the commissioners who have stayed on board and the people inside the inquiry who grew despondent and quit.Most got involved when optimism was running high, and a youthful, new prime minister got behind an idea they’d spent years fighting for.Some asked that they not be quoted, concerned they’d be painted as disloyal, or that their connections to such a dysfunctional process would harm their chances of future employment.