Helen Waugh (via video conference)

Helen Waugh (via video conference)

  • EIA worker
  • Added note to Samantha Kematch's EIA file that Karl McKay was living common-law with Kematch after a call from Shelley Willox
Mary Wu

Mary Wu

  • Public health nurse who worked with Samantha Kematch in December 2004
Shelley Willox

Shelley Willox

  • Social worker with Winnipeg CFS Crisis Response Unit
  • Encountered Phoenix Sinclair file in December 2004

Cracking the whip

Tuesday, January 8

Patience is in short supply at the Phoenix Sinclair inquiry. After a long and exhausting morning of cross-examination, commissioner Ted Hughes got testy.

Social worker Shelley Willox endured a cross-examination queue of half a dozen lawyers -- all retreading the same patch of ground, asking many of the same questions Willox had already answered the previous day.

Hughes, weary of the dragging proceedings, had several knuckle-rapping exchanges with counsel.

Impatient with a string of ambiguous questions from ANCR's lawyer, Kris Saxberg, Hughes prodded him to sharpen the focus and meaning of his queries.

He would chide others for similar infractions on clarity.

As inquiry counsel Sherri Walsh conducted what she promised would be a brief closing examination of Willox's testimony, MGEU lawyer Trevor Ray got up -- but not for long.

Ray objected to Walsh's line of questioning. But Hughes was in no mood for further interruptions. He instructed Ray to sit down until Walsh had asked her questions.

Hughes: You can take your seat.
Ray: [remaining standing] I'll just wait for the question.
Hughes: [pause] Well, I think you should take your seat.

There was an uncomfortable moment of silence before Ray did an about-face and plunked himself down in the nearest seat. He swung his head and gave a red-faced half-shrug to the throng of lawyers seated behind him.

Hughes was on a roll.

In the afternoon session, as Saxberg got up to cross-examine another witness, Hughes issued a warning shot at the ANCR lawyer's bow.

"I'm assuming you'll be covering different areas than Trevor Ray," Hughes said to Saxberg.

It's a clear message the commissioner was done with repetitive cross-examination.

There are nearly 100 witnesses yet to take the stand. There have been months of delays because of legal wrangling.

Hughes has openly stated he is itching to get to the bottom of the questions at hand and deliver this report this fall.

Today, the commissioner dusted off his whip and started cracking it.

Inside the inquiry

With CBC's Katie Nicholson where an inquiry is trying to figure out how a little girl fell through the cracks.


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