Public security minister says no to public inquiry into murder investigations

The families of eight murdered women have been told there is no cause for a deeper look at how Quebec police investigated murders in the 1970s and 80s.

Families of victims in eight Quebec cold cases had asked Martin Coiteux to look into police procedures

The relatives of eight women and girls whose suspicious deaths have never been solved met with lawyer Marc Bellemare earlier this month to call for a public inquiry. (Submitted by Stéphan Parent)

Quebec's minister of public security says he will not open a public inquiry into the way police conducted murder investigations in the 1970s and early 1980s.

Eight families who lost loved ones during that time had asked the minister, Martin Coiteux, to look into police protocol and procedures at the time, and now.

Many believe the investigations into the deaths of their family members were flawed.

However, that request has now been denied.

The denial was outlined in a letter to the families, sent through their lawyer, former Justice minister Marc Bellemare, from deputy minister, Denis Marsolais.

"You can be assured," Marsolais writes, "that the ministry takes disappearances and kidnappings very seriously."

He goes on to say that police methods are constantly improving through better training at l'École nationale de police du Québec.

He says changes in legislation have also helped police methods.

The families had also asked for changes to current procedures. Among other things, they want Quebec's provincial police, the Sûreté du Québec, to take over all murder cases in the province.

They are also calling for police to be more respectful of family members when a loved one is found murdered.

Marsolais writes that keeping families informed is a tenet of police investigations, but he said police are legally restrained from divulging too much information.

Former justice minister Marc Bellemare (left) called on Public Security Minister Martin Coiteux to look into police techniques when it comes to missing and murdered women. (Submitted by Stéphan Parent)

Concerns 'not addressed'

John Allore, whose sister Theresa disappeared and was found dead in 1979,  said the response from Coiteux's office is "perfunctory and does not begin to address the concerns expressed in our original request." 

"The head of security for the province should have deep concerns for public safety, especially given the documented proof of the destruction of cold-case evidence across police agencies and across several decades. No amount of training at the l'École Nicolet is going to remedy this situation," he said.

Allore said he and the other families are not giving up. The other relatives involved include the families of Sharron Prior, Louise Camirand and Hélène Monast.

"We will continue our demand to Minister Coiteux," said Allore.

"We intend to add more names of cold-case victims until the minister of public security makes some serious efforts to reform police investigative practices in the province of Quebec."