The Province

Oppal draws criticism over acting choice

VANCOUVER: Commission­er plays ‘bitpart’ of victim in serial-killer movie

- BY ELAINE O’CONNOR AND SUZANNE FOURNIER THE PROVINCE eoconnor@theprovinc­ sfournier@theprovinc­

In his full-time job, Wally Oppal is investigat­ing how serial killer Robert Pickton managed to kill so many women.

In his spare time, Oppal is acting in a movie about a serial killer who goes after investment bankers.

In the movie, he gets shot. In real life, he’s fending off verbal slings and arrows criticizin­g him for his acting role while the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry, which he heads, continues.

“I don’t see anything inappropri­ate about it,” Oppal said Thursday.

“Listen, nobody has been more passionate about what has gone on here [at the inquiry] than me,” he said. “So on a Sunday morning between nine and one I go and do a bit-part in this movie on my own time. And there is certainly no intent to show any disrespect to anything here. And the balance of the day I go work on what we are doing.

“So absolutely, I make no apologies for that. I am entitled to have a life. I am working day and night on this and there is hardly a day I don’t go into the office.”

However, family members of some of Pickton’s victims expressed surprise over his participat­ion in the film.

Ernie Crey, whose sister Dawn Crey was murdered by Pickton, said he is “surprised Mr. Oppal would take part in a movie shot while labouring under a tight deadline to complete his work as the head of the missing women’s inquiry.”

“While he does have a right to a private life, he should have taken a pass on his debut as a film star,” said Crey.

The film, titled The Bailout, is a fictional tale of a man who lost everything in the 2008 stock market crash and is exacting revenge by systematic­ally killing investment bankers.

Oppal has a cameo as one of the marked for death stockbroke­rs, alongside developer Bruce Langereis.

This week, pictures of the pair cropped up showing Oppal costumed in a bloodied dress shirt.

He said that he was invited to do the bit-part as an extra because “a friend of mine is the producer.”

Scenes were shot on location in Vancouver last week.

B.C. Civil Liberties Associatio­n president Robert Holmes said although Oppal had a long record of public service and his integrity wasn’t in question, his choice to participat­e presented bad optics.

“I don’t think anyone can question his integrity and at this point if he wants to go off and be a movie actor that’s his choice,” he said.

As for the subject matter of the film, Holmes said, “it is fiction, but at the same time, I think it doesn’t show the sensitivit­y that is required in that position. I think frankly, it adds to the perception that the missing women’s inquiry has not been handled in as deft a manner as it should have been.”

Oppal shot back that if the BCCLA, which boycotted the inquiry, “spent less time complainin­g about what I did on a Sunday and more taking part in this inquiry, it might be more fruitful.”

The inquiry is set to wrap up June 30.


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