the thin blue line…thickens?

Today, July 23,2020 

Nova Scotia Justice Minister Mark Furey and federal Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair announced not an inquiry, but rather a three-member Independent Review  Panel to look into the largest mass murder in Canadian history.

The bulk of reporting since the murders has questioned the RCMP’s handling and management of the events ; personal action by RCMP members that endangered public safety and the absence of  timely public notice as the killer remained active .

“At this particularly delicate time in its history, when its very structure across the country is at stake, the RCMP will fight tooth and nail to maintain the status quo.That means it will resist a public inquiry. Even its house union has taken that position, which should tell you something.” Paul Palango is a former senior editor at the Globe and Mail and author of three books on the RCMP.  from Halifax Examiner article of May 25,2020

It should be noted that Justice Minister Fuery prior to becoming an MLA was a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for 32 years and Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair ,before federal politics served as the chief of the Toronto Police Service and had a three-decade-long career in the service. 

Note also that one of the review members is Leanne Fitch, a former chief of the Fredericton Police Force.

Unlike a public inquiry, the review panel will not have the power to compel testimony, nor will it have subpoena power.Should government institutions not cooperate with the review panel, the panel “may notify the public about the lack of cooperation.”example: RCMP

In the event that the panel needs information from non-government institutions (such as telephone companies, banks, etc), the panel does not have the power to ask the court for production orders. The review panel’s work is to be “guided by restorative principles in order to do no further harm, be trauma informed and be attentive to the needs and impacts upon those most directly affected and harmed.” Ithe testimony of those witnesses will not be public.

Documents and testimony from government institutions will not be public, although the panel has the ability to refer to such documents and testimony in its published reports.

The decision-making panel can only render decisions based on the information and evidence presented to them and thus the terms of reference outlining the restorative model will prejudice the panel by restricting the evidence and information being presented.

The common law legal tradition, that cross-examination is the most effective truth-finding mechanism available is denied to this process and excludes the full participation of the families under the guise of protecting them from further trauma. 

The families continue to demand a full and transparent public inquiry. 

With thanks: Independent Review Panel information gleaned from The Halifax Examiner July 23 and quote from May 25 article .Other commentary is Court Painter’s own take !