N.S. not for or against class action in orphanage abuse case: Dexter
Published Thursday, January 10, 2013 12:50PM AST
Last Updated Thursday, January 10, 2013 3:31PM AST
HALIFAX -- Nova Scotia's premier said his government is neither for or against certification of a class-action lawsuit by former residents of a Halifax orphanage who allege they were abused.
Darrell Dexter said Thursday that the government as a named defendant in the case is obligated to file documents under court procedure.
"There is a law in Nova Scotia around the way that class actions are pursued and the question is. 'Does it fit?"' said Dexter. "We'll be part of that discussion the same way that the claimants will be and obviously the other defendants."
When asked by reporters whether that meant the government was opposed to or in support of the class-action, Dexter replied, "Neither."
The documents filed Tuesday in Nova Scotia Supreme Court offered little in the way of the government's position on the matter and consisted of court records related to proceedings in dozens of cases already in the court system.
A corresponding affidavit filed by the executive director of the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children, Veronica Marsman, denied any knowledge of systemic abuse at the facility.
Dexter also said the class-action had no effect on whether the province decides to call a public inquiry into the decade's old allegations of physical, mental and sexual abuse at the home.
"My chief concern from the beginning was the question of the criminal investigation ... but that has been cleared out of the way as a result of the findings of the RCMP."
Last month, police announced that they wouldn't be laying criminal charges after concluding there wasn't enough evidence to support the allegations.
Although Dexter still won't commit to calling an inquiry, he says the province is consulting with those who could be affected should one be called.
The proposed class-action involves about 140 former residents who allege abuse at the home over a 50-year period up until the 1980s.