Blue Line

Committee will oversee changes recommended by inquiry into N.S. shooting

May 31, 2023  By The Canadian Press

May 31, 2023, Ottawa, Ont. – Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino has appointed a retired appeals court justice to head a committee to oversee the changes recommended by the public inquiry into the April 2020 mass shootings in Nova Scotia.

Linda Lee Oland will help the government to take a “hard look” at the 130 recommendations made by the Mass Casualty Commission, Mendicino said.

“I’m going to keep a very open mind about what recommendations will be implemented,” he said.

“I’m not striking out the possibility of excluding any of them, but I do think it is important to underline that we have already moved on a number of concrete recommendations.”

The commission, which released its final report in March, found widespread failures in how the RCMP responded to the shootings and the way the force communicated with the public during and after the killings on April 18 and 19, 2020.

A gunman dressed as an RCMP officer murdered 22 people, including a pregnant woman, over the course of 13 hours before he was shot dead by police that weekend. His rampage spanned more than 100 kilometres of rural Nova Scotia and included 16 crime scenes.

The federal and provincial governments, after intense pressure from the family members of the victims, launched an inquiry in July 2020 that began public hearings in early 2022.

The inquiry’s final report called for the government to create a committee by May 31 to ensure accountability as the RCMP, governments and other organizations implement changes.

Oland will have until the end of July to come up with a proposed list of members for the committee and a budget.

The inquiry’s commissioners made a range of recommendations aimed at improving and rethinking public safety and policing.

That included a review of the RCMP’s role in local policing in Canada, and the way Mounties are trained. They called on the government to reform gun laws to ban assault-style weapons and prohibit stockpiling of ammunition.

The House of Commons recently passed a Liberal government law that would ban assault-style firearms, and the RCMP has new policies for alerting the public about emergency situations.

Mendicino said a more concrete update on the other recommendations is coming soon and said he has had a “very direct” conversation with RCMP commissioner Mike Duheme about what that will entail.

“The RCMP is at a crossroads and what is important is that to mend trust, we have to implement these recommendations,” he said.

But he stopped short of committing to implementing specific changes, such as closing the RCMP training depot in Regina.

The commissioners said that should happen by 2023, and the program should be replaced with a three-year policing degree program.

“It is a significant decision and what the final report maps out is the fundamental principles and building blocks by which we can take a more evidence- and research-based approach to modernizing that training,” Mendicino said.

He said he is committed to moving as quickly as possible on reforms, but that it must be done “in the right way” and with proper consultations.

They commissioners said their findings about domestic violence were the “single most important” lesson to be learned from the shootings and called for a prevention-oriented public health approach to the issue.

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