Saskatchewan appoints former police chief as chief coroner after his review
REGINA — A former police chief who led a review of Saskatchewan’s coroner system has been appointed to head it up and says he wants to return confidence to the office.
Former Saskatoon police chief Clive Weighill was named the province’s chief coroner on Monday, two months after he released a report into the office.
The office has been dogged by allegations of racism and a lack of accountability in the past, something Weighill said he will work to overcome.
“It’s just going to be like when I was in my policing career,” Weighill said in Saskatoon, where he became police chief shortly after an inquiry found officers had taken intoxicated Indigenous people and dropped them off outside town.
“I can’t talk about how great the coroner’s system is going to be by me just telling you. It’s going to have to ... show people that it’s a great system again.”
Richelle Dubois has been a vocal critic of the coroner’s office since her son Haven died in 2015. The office ruled the 14-year-old’s death was an accidental drowning but Dubois has never accepted that conclusion.
She met with Weighill earlier this year during his review of the coroner’s office and said she hopes he was listening.
“I think he knows the issues. Let’s see if he can implement them,” Dubois said. “Action speaks louder than a report. So I guess only time can tell.”
Weighill retired as Saskatoon police chief in 2017 after 11 years on the job and reviewed the coroner system later that year.
His final report in June contained 44 recommendations including developing a plan for responding to mass casualties like the Humboldt Broncos bus crash where one of the dead players was initially misidentified.
He also recommended staff get help for post-traumatic stress disorder, that community coroners receive more than the current one day of training and that a child death review committee be created.
But Weighill said he doesn’t expect to “turn the place upside down.”
“It’s not like the system is completely broken,” he said. “It needs some help and that’s what we’re going to try to do here.”
Justice Minister Don Morgan said Weighill made important recommendations to the province and is in a good position to implement them.
“I know that Clive has the knowledge, skills and experience necessary to lead the coroner’s service,” he said.
Weighill starts the job on Sept. 15.
- Ryan McKenna
News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc., 2018
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