Doctors within Canada's prison system who treated Ashley Smith, the New Brunswick teen who died from self strangulation while held in an adult prison in Kitchener, Ont., are fighting moves to get them to testify at an upcoming coroner's inquest in Ontario.
The inquest has had a long, troubled history. It was cancelled, and then recently rescheduled with an expanded mandate after the family of the troubled teen successfully argued that the inquest must examine the girl's treatment within the federal Correctional Service of Canada's facilities — beyond the borders of Ontario.
Ontario's Coroner's Act places some restrictions on the coroner's powers to summon witnesses from outside the province.
Though there are exceptions made and the current coroner has requested numerous out of province witnesses to testify for the anticipated start of hearings in January 2013.
Part of Smith’s tragic story involves her repeated transfer from facility to facility — more than a dozen times in the final year of her life — depriving her of continuous psychiatric care and treatment while an inmate.
She became so despondent and hostile, at one prison in Joliette, Que., she was given repeated doses of anti-psychotic drugs which according to one prison psychologist were given illegally and against her will.
Now, according to court documents filed with the inquest, lawyers for CSC doctors are attempting to quash their appearances and prevent the inquest from examining her treatment at CSC facilities outside of Ontario.