Past to Present: History Timeline
Established in 1990, the SIU celebrated its 20th anniversary on September 2010. In its 20 year history, the Unit has been the subject of controversy and scrutiny. Along the way many events, Directors, and external reviews have shaped the organization into what it is today. The timeline below presents a brief historical perspective of these influences.
- Rising Concerns for Police Accountability
In the mid-1980's, a series of interactions involving police and youth from visible minority groups raised concerns about the manner in which police shootings were being handled. Police services investigated themselves, or in some instances, another police service was assigned to conduct the investigation. The public sentiment was that such internal investigations lacked the necessary objectivity required of policing.
- December 1988 The Task Force on Race Relations and Policing
In 1988 the fatal shootings of Lester Donaldson on August 9, in Toronto, and Michael Wade Lawson, on December 8, in Peel Region, solidified action from Ontario's black community. Community action resulted in Mr. Clare Lewis being appointed by the Solicitor General of Ontario to Chair the "Task Force on Race Relations and Policing" in December 1988.
- April 1989 The Clare Lewis Report
April 11, 1989, the Task Force submitted its report which made 57 recommendations for changes in the law on the use of force by the police and on police training, as well as a recommendation to create an independent investigative body with the power to lay criminal charges when warranted.
Contact us to request the Clare Lewis Report on the Special Reports.
- August 1990 The SIU is Proclaimed
Justice John Osler, becomes the SIU's first Director and until June 1992 would work diligently to establish the fledgling organization.
- April 1991 Serious Injury
In consultation and agreement with the Ministry of the Solicitor General and the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police (OACP) the definition of "Serious Injury" is set out.
- May 1992 Yonge Street Riots
On May 4, 1992 the Black Action Defence Committee (BADC) organized a demonstration to protest the murder of Raymond Lawrence. Dubbed the “Yonge St. Riots” by the media, 1000 people demonstrated in a peaceful march that began at the U.S. Consulate and ended with 30 arrests, 200 windows smashed on Yonge St. and City Hall, and a hundred thousand dollars in damages. Hundreds of black youth and others vandalized the Yonge St. strip and fought with police in the streets.
- June 1992 William R. Wolski, Interim Director
William R. Wolski is appointed Interim Director for a two month term
- June 1992 Stephen Lewis Report
June 1992, Stephen Lewis, advisor on race relations to then Premier Bob Rae (following the Yonge Street Riots), releases his report titled “Racism in Ontario: Report to the Premier by Stephen Lewis”. The report recommended policing reforms, including some directly relating to the SIU. A concern was raised about the SIU’s credibility, and Lewis recommended that the Unit be accountable to the Attorney General, who is responsible for the provincial justice system rather than the Solicitor General, who was responsible policing. The Lewis report also recommended an increase in funding.
Contact us to request the Stephen Lewis Report on the Special Reports.
- September 1992 Howard Morton, Director
Howard Morton is appointed as the next SIU Director. Mr Morton would stay in this role until March 1995.
- April 1993 SIU is brought under the Ministry of the Attorney General.
SIU moves from the Solicitor General to the Ministry of the Attorney General
- March 1995 Dana Venner, Interim Director
Dana Venner is appointed as Interim Director for a seven month term
- October 1995 Graham Reynolds, Director
Graham Reynolds is appointed Director for an eight month term
- June 1996 James Stewart, Interim Director
James Stewart is appointed Interim Director for a 3 month term
- September 1996 Andre Marin, Director
Andre Marin is appointed Director and would remain in this position until June 7, 1998
- November 1996 McLeod Report
Roderick McLeod is appointed to conduct another review of police oversight and the system for public complaints about police. The report titled: "A Report and Recommendations on Amendments to the Police Services Act Respecting Civilian Oversight of Police" called for regulatory requirements to be established for police cooperation with the SIU. However no changes were made to the SIU.
Contact us to request the McLeod Report on the Special Reports.
- September 1997 Adams Review
The Attorney and Solicitor Generals appoint former Superior Court Justice, the Honourable George W. Adams, Q.C. to consult with community and police organizations on ways to improve the relationship between the SIU and police. The report focused on concerns over timely SIU notification of incidents by police, control of incident scenes pending SIU arrival, and timely co-operation of police officers involved in the incidents.
- May 1998 Adams I Report
May 14, 1998 the "Consultation Report of the Honourable George W. Adams, Q.C. to the Attorney General and Solicitor General Concerning Police Cooperation with the Special Investigations Unit" (Adams I) is released. The Report made 25 recommendations, the most important being that the SIU be resourced in a manner commensurate with its important mandate and that a detailed regulatory framework for SIU investigations be established.
- June 1998 Leslie Chapin, Interim Director
Leslie Chapin is appointed Interim Director for a six month term
- January 1999 Ontario Regulation 673/98 (Now Ontario Regulation 267/10)
Jan 1999, following Adams I, the Ontario government enacted "Conduct and Duties of Police Officers Respecting Investigations by the Special Investigations Unit, O. Reg. 673/98". The Regulation incorporated many of Mr. Adams’ recommendations, and set out the conduct and duties of police officers involved in SIU investigations. Under the regulation a failure to comply with the regulatory requirements became a misconduct offence under the Police Services Act. In addition to the Regulation the Unit's funding was increased to $5.3 million. This marked a new beginning for the SIU.
Ontario Regulation 267/10
- January 1999 Peter Tinsley, Director
Peter Tinsley is appointed Director and would remain in the position until April 2003.
- May 2000 New Mississauga Headquarters
The Unit moves from its Front street offices in downtown Toronto to a new 18,000 sqft space located in Mississauga. The location allowed for convenient access to major highways and the Pearson International Airport, thus improving the Units ability to mobilize investigators and respond quickly to incident notification. Along with the move the organization is restructured with the creation of new administrative and investigative positions.
- May 2000 Independent Forensic Investigations
The Unit spends approximately half a million dollars to redefine the SIU Forensic Identification Section (FIS). The process involved recruiting a highly qualified team of forensic identification supervisors and investigators and collision re-constructionists. Also a new forensics lab was designed and equipped, complete with state of the art digital photographic and video equipment, multiple and separate case rooms, drying cabinets, a fuming cabinet, chemical oven, and Total Station location devices. In addition to this the forensics team is equipped with four major case vehicles which are positioned strategically around the province.
The SIU currently runs a forensic identification section which matches in capability with all but the largest police services in Ontario. While the SIU continues to rely on external expert services from organizations like the Centre of Forensic Sciences and the Coroners Office, the Unit's independent forensic section bolsters independence and the integrity of our investigations.
- February 2002 Director’s Resource Committee
The Director’s Resource Committee (DRC) is established in an effort to foster a wide range of communication links and provide a regular forum for communications between the SIU and the broader community. The committee meets twice annually with a focus on both general operations and specific issues. In 2010, following the October 19th, 2009 creation of the OIPRD, the respective Directors of each organization have made a move to hold these meetings jointly. The DRC is comprised of community leaders from various ethnic and social interest groups.
Director's Resource Committee
- August 2002 Adams Review II
In August 2002, the Attorney General once again appointed Mr. Adams to conduct a consultative review aimed at evaluating the implementation of the 1999 SIU reforms
- February 2003 Adams II Report
In February 2003, Adams II: "Review Report on the Special Investigations Unit Reforms Prepared for the Attorney General of Ontario" is released. The report found that increased public funding and the regulatory changes had been successful in building police and community confidence in the SIU and in providing an effective regime for SIU investigations.
- April 2003 John Sutherland, Interim Director
John Sutherland is appointed as Interim Director and is later appointed to the Director’s position in December 2003. Mr. Sutherland remained in this position until April 2004.
- April 2004 James Cornish, Interim Director
James Cornish, is appointed as Interim Director of the SIU. He would later be appointed as Director in December 2004 and remain in the position until October 2008.
- April 2006 Affected Persons Coordinator
The SIU creates the Affected Persons Coordinator position to respond in a meaningful way to the social needs of those persons impacted by SIU investigations.
Affected Persons Coordinator page.
- 2007 Mission, Vision, Values
The Unit formalizes its Vision, Mission, and Values as a result of the Balanced Scorecard Process.
Vision, Mission and Values page.
- August 2008 Fleet Upgrade
The Forensic Identification fleet is upgraded with four new Dodge Sprinter Vans. The vans are fully equipped with forensic equipment but also provide increased utility, improved fuel efficiency and greater payload capacity. These vehicles are stationed strategically throughout the province in Kingston, Orillia, Kitchener, and the SIU head office in Mississauga.
- September 2008 Ombudsman’s Report
Ombudsman Andre Marin releases “Oversight Unseen: Investigation into the Special Investigations Unit's Operational Effectiveness and Credibility”, a systemic report on the operations of the SIU.
- October 2008 Ian Scott, Director
Ian Scott is appointed as Director
- December 2008 Civilian Investigators
The Unit creates two junior investigative positions to enhance the civilian investigative capacity. These positions are filled by two civilian investigators with no former police background. In addition, the SIU also created two new Lead investigator positions to help address the increasing caseload.
- May 2009 The Outreach Coordinator
The SIU hires its first Outreach Coordinator to address the need to actively engage with Ontario's many diverse communities. The Outreach Coordinator works with community groups and special interest organizations to raise awareness about the Unit, its mandate and investigative process. The role also aims to identify areas of concern and to work proactively to address these issues to build stronger relations with communities.
- December 2009 The Mobile Command Unit
The SIU acquires the Mobile Command Unit (MCU). The MCU allows investigators to have a place to meet and strategize while on scene, to conduct witness interviews and the ability to maintain a visible presence independent of police. The 31 X 9 foot unit is fully equipped with AV interviewing technology to ensure timely processing and collection of witness accounts.
- 6 April, 2011 The LeSage Report
On April 6, 2011, the Attorney General received recommendations from the Honourable Patrick LeSage, former Chief Justice of the Superior Court, concerning matters involving the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) and police in Ontario. The Report, outlined recommendations pertaining, to the definition of "Serious Injuries", police officers’ right to counsel, and Officer’s notes.
- 14 December, 2011 Ombudsman's Review Report 2011: Oversight Undermined
On December 14, 2011, Ombudsman André Marin released his follow-up report Oversight Undermined. With respect to the SIU's progress, Mr. Marin stated "based on my review to date, I am satisfied that the SIU has made significant strides to reorient its operations…” The report focused on the Ministry of the Attorney General’s implementation of recommendations outlined in the 2008 Ombudsman report. Mr. Marin reiterated a number of those recommendations aimed at the Ministry and the Government of Ontario. Many of these focus on the need for legislative reform.