Inquiry into mass shooting in Nova Scotia facing delays due to ‘technicalities’

Inquiry into mass shooting in Nova Scotia facing delays due to ‘technicalities’

Inquiry into mass shooting in Nova Scotia facing delays due to ‘technicalities’

HALIFAX — Technicalities are causing delays as the provincial and federal governments work out what form an inquiry into the April mass shooting that claimed 22 lives will take, the province’s justice minister said Thursday.

Speaking after a cabinet meeting, Mark Furey said he made a mistake last month when he suggested the terms of reference for the inquiry would be announced within days.

“I want to commit to the families that we understand their frustrations,” he said. “We’re working day and night to bring this together.”

The minister said he expects an announcement some time this month.

“There’s legalities and technicalities that our legal teams are reviewing and finalizing in the drafting of relevant documents,” he said, declining to offer details. “That’s what’s taking the time.”

Furey has said the investigation could take the form of a traditional federal-provincial public inquiry led by an independent commissioner, but the minister made it clear Thursday that some sort of hybrid is in the works.

The challenges facing legal teams in Ottawa and Halifax appear to stem from the fact that Nova Scotia wants the probe to include a restorative justice approach.

Earlier this month, Furey said the exercise must also have certain features common to public inquiries, including judicial leadership, the power to compel witnesses to testify and the ability to make recommendations to hold public agencies accountable for their actions.

On Thursday, Furey hinted that grafting the restorative justice model onto a traditional public inquiry was taking time to sort out.

“We want to take a different approach to sourcing the questions that individuals would have, particularly the family members,” he said. “We’re taking a human-centred and trauma-informed approach consistent with some of the principles of restorative methodologies.”

Nova Scotia created a “restorative inquiry” in 2015 when it appointed a committee to look into allegations of long-term abuse at a former orphanage in the Halifax area, known as the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children.

That process was not a provincial inquiry in the traditional sense, though it was established under the authority of the province’s Public Inquiries Act.

Its collaborative approach featured “sharing circles” with former residents, black youth and community organizations.

Instead of providing a list or recommendations, the inquiry’s final report offered a “road map” for breaking down what it described as the government’s fragmented approach to helping people in need.

Furey said this approach is key to getting people to come forward to tell what they know about the circumstances before, during and after Gabriel Wortman’s murderous April 18-19 rampage through northern and central Nova Scotia.

However, the provincial and federal governments have faced a growing chorus of calls for a traditional, public commission of inquiry led by an independent commissioner with no strings attached.

Among those asking for this approach are relatives of victims, about 30 professors at Dalhousie University in Halifax and opposition politicians.

In early June, the daughter of Heather O’Brien — a nurse who was killed by the gunman on April 19 — urged the federal and Nova Scotia governments to work together. Darcy Dobson said “the back and forth about who’s responsible for an inquiry is unreal.”

Earlier this week, five Nova Scotia senators renewed a call for the province to join with Ottawa to launch a joint inquiry. They said the delays have led to increased speculation about the shootings and the assailant, which could be eroding public trust in law enforcement.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 2, 2020.

Michael MacDonald, The Canadian Press

Mass shootings

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Government of Alberta COVID-19 Aggregate Data Map. Screen Grab/ https://www.alberta.ca/stats/covid-19-alberta-statistics.htm#geospatial
City of Wetaskiwin under 10 active cases; single active case in County

Active COVID-19 cases in the City and County of Wetaskiwin continue to drop.

File photo
Alberta’s central zone has 670 active cases

301 new cases identified Sunday

Alberta has 1,910 active cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday. Red Deer is reporting five active cases, with 108 recovered. (File photo)
Red Deer reports 25th COVID-19 death

415 new cases identified provincially Saturday

Alberta Health reported two new COVID-19 deaths in Red Deer Friday. (Image courtesy CDC)
Two more deaths linked to Olymel outbreak in Red Deer

Province reported 356 additional COVID-19 cases Friday

Black Press file photo
Wetaskiwin RCMP execute search warrant; illegal drugs seized

Two Wetaskiwin residents have been charged with possession and trafficking of Methamphetamine.

A ” Justice for Jeff” T-shirt. (Photo submitted)
Rally to be held outside Red Deer courthouse for slain Ponoka man

Sentencing for accused charged with manslaughter with a firearm set for March 4

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Time to check the mail: Every household to receive a Canada Post postcard this spring

Postcard can be mailed for free to any address in Canada

A cross-country skier glides along the banks of the Ottawa River in Ottawa on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. Canadians across the country can look forward to a mild spring peppered with the odd winter flashback throughout the first part of the season, according to predictions from one prominent national forecaster. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Mild spring with some wintry blasts predicted for most of Canada: Weather Network

Weather Network is forecasting a slower than average start to spring in British Columbia

AstraZeneca’s vaccines are ready for use at the vaccination center in Apolda, Germany, Sunday, Feb.28, 2021. (Michael Reichel/dpa via AP)
Feds hoping for AstraZeneca shots this week as Pfizer-BioNTech prepare next delivery

The first of those doses could start to arrive in Canada as early as Wednesday

People line up outside a vaccine clinic as seniors wait to get the COVID-19 vaccine in Edmonton Alta, on Friday February 26, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta Health Services head sorry for glitches in vaccine booking system for seniors

AHS president said technical issues have been fixed and a virtual waiting room is in place

Vandalism is shown on Alberta NDP MLA Janis Irwin’s constituency office in Edmonton in this handout photo on Saturday, February 27, 2021. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney quickly condemned vandalism at an Opposition legislature member Janis Irwin’s Edmonton office after the MLA posted pictures showing her front window spray-painted with the words “Antifa Liar.” THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Janis Irwin *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Alberta Premier slams vandalism after slur painted on MLA’s office window

Edmonton MLA Janis Irwin posted pictures showing the front window spray-painted with the words ‘Antifa Liar’

A helicopter flies past a mountain near McBride, B.C., on Saturday January 30, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Avalanche warning for backcountry users in North and South Rockies

Avalanche Canada is urging backcountry users to always check their regional avalanche forecasts

Most Read