Former B.C. Lieutenant-Governor Steven Point has resigned as chair of the advisory committee on the safety and security of vulnerable women.
His decision comes on the heels of four families of missing women launching civil lawsuits in relation to the case of serial killer Robert Pickton.
Justice Minister Shirley Bond said she is "disappointed that the no doubt unintended consequences" led Mr. Point to conclude he must step down.
"When matters proceed to court, the litigation process takes precedence over all other related processes," she said in a statement issued Friday. "The plaintiffs have put Mr. Point on notice that, in his role as chair of the advisory committee, his comments and remarks may well become evidence in the course of the litigation."
This would put an "impossible burden on Mr. Point to avoid making statements that could be misinterpreted" or used in the course of litigation, Ms. Bond said. She added that the litigation will "impact the government's current process" in responding to recommendations from Wally Oppal's missing women inquiry report.
"We now have to analyze how we will continue to move forward while the court case is underway," she said.
The civil suits allege numerous failures on the part of Vancouver police, the RCMP and the justice ministry, including that they failed to warn women in the neighbourhood that Mr. Pickton was targeting women in the area.
Mr. Pickton was arrested in February 2002 and eventually convicted of six counts of second-degree murder.
Text of the letter from the Honourable Steven Point to Minister of Justice and Attorney General Shirley Bond:
May 15, 2013
Minister of Justice and Attorney General Shirley Bond
It is with regret that I find it necessary to advise you that litigation has been commenced by certain family members of the victims of Pickton, and I have been served with documents that have put me on notice regarding this litigation.
As a consequence of this development I have concluded that it is impossible to continue in my role as special advisor to government in relation to the recommendations by Commissioner Oppal in his report on Murdered and Missing Women.
I have consulted with the Ministry of Justice who have agreed that in light of the current litigation process it is not possible to proceed further and therefore we have jointly reached the conclusion that I must resign and I have done so, effective May 30, 2013.
I sincerely regret the events that have necessitated my reaching this decision however once litigation has been chosen, I cannot see a path that allows me to fulfil the role that I was asked to undertake.