Elliot Lake mall owner cross-examined repeatedly

Follow CBC News' Live coverage of the Elliot Lake Inquiry

Follow CBC News' Live coverage of the Elliot Lake Inquiry

At the public inquiry underway in Elliot Lake, mall owner Bob Nazarian has been asked why he didn't shut down the Algo Centre Mall when he realized he couldn't fix the roof.

Nazarian has told the inquiry he didn't have the funds he needed to deal with the constantly leaking mall roof. He is now being cross examined by various lawyers at the inquiry. On Monday, one of them wanted to know why closing the mall doors wasn't considered.

Elliot Lake mall owner Robert Nazarian is still in the witness box even though his testimony was scheduled to finish last week. (Supplied)

"I would not like to shut it down, under no circumstances. Lots of people were earning their life from that mall, including ourselves," Nazarian said. "Why should I shut it down?"

Nazarian told the inquiry he never suspected a structural problem before the collapse, which killed two people in June of last year.

Field of questioning 'has been plowed extensively'

A lawyer representing a group of people affected by the mall roof collapse asked Nazarian to explain why he didn't shut the mall down when he realized he couldn't fix the roof.

"I was looking for solution to save it rather than shutting it down," Nazarian responded.

To which lawyer Peter Roy replied, "I'm suggesting to you sir that you were looking for other people to spend the money to fix the problem, but you were never willing to put your own money into it."

On Tuesday the commissioner for the Elliot Lake warned the lawyers involved to be expedient with their questions, as Nazarian’s testimony was scheduled to finish last week.

"I simply remind counsel that effective cross examination doesn't mean interminable cross examination," Justice Paul Belanger said. "This particular field has been plowed extensively now."

Belanger noted that the commission is limited to its operating budget of $15 million.

Hearings are scheduled to continue through September.

The public inquiry was established in July 2012 by the Ontario government and has been underway in Elliot Lake since March.

It was created to report on events surrounding the mall roof's collapse on June 23, 2012, the deaths of Lucie Aylwin and Doloris Perizzolo, the injuries to others, and the emergency management and response.

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