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

Alberta has 3,651 active cases of COVID-19. (File photo)
432 new COVID cases sets another record Friday

Central zone holds steady at 126 active cases

"We are looking seriously at the spread and determining what our next steps should be," says Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, as the daily number of COVID-19 cases continues to climb.
427 new COVID cases is highest in Alberta ever

Central zone has 126 active cases of COVID-19

100 Women Who Care make a donation to Sylvan Lake Food Bank and Bethany Care Centre. Photo By Megan Roth/Sylvan Lake News
100 Women Who Care donate to four Sylvan Lake groups

The Food Bank, Bethany Sylvan Lake, Community Partners and the Library all received a donation

RCMP. (Black Press File Photo)
Calgary man dies in two-vehicle collision near Sylvan Lake

A semi truck collided with a SUV just east of Hwy. 781 on Hwy 11.

Shaelynn Decock and her dog Taco, who has been missing since Aug. 26. Photo Submitted
Sylvan Lake woman looking for closure for her stolen dog

Shaelynn Decock says it has been two months since she last saw her dog Taco

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson, B.C. NDP leader John Horgan and B.C. Greens leader Sonia Furstenau. (Black Press Media)
VIDEO: One day until B.C. voters go to the polls in snap election defined by pandemic

NDP Leader John Horgan’s decision to call an election comes more than a year ahead of schedule and during a pandemic

Comedic actor Seth Rogen, right, and business partner Evan Goldberg pose in this undated handout photo. When actor Seth Rogen was growing up and smoking cannabis in Vancouver, he recalls there was a constant cloud of shame around the substance that still lingers. Rogen is determined to change that. (Maarten de Boer ohoto)
Seth Rogen talks about fighting cannabis stigma, why pot should be as accepted as beer

‘I smoke weed all day and every day and have for 20 years’

Leader of the Opposition Erin O’Toole rises during Question Period in the House of Commons Thursday October 22, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
O’Toole tells Alberta UCP AGM Liberals were ‘late and confused’ on COVID response

He says Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has taken charge and not waited to make things happen

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney arrives for an announcement at a news conference in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Inquiry into oil and gas foes to deliver report next year: Kenney

A lawsuit filed by environmental law firm Ecojustice argues the inquiry is politically motivated

The Canadian border is pictured at the Peace Arch Canada/USA border crossing in Surrey, B.C. Friday, March 20, 2020. More than 4.6 million people have arrived in Canada since the border closed last March and fewer than one-quarter of them were ordered to quarantine while the rest were deemed “essential” and exempted from quarantining. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Majority of international travellers since March deemed ‘essential’, avoid quarantine

As of Oct. 20, 3.5 million travellers had been deemed essential, and another 1.1 million were considered non-essential

This photo provided by Air Force Reserve shows a sky view of Hurricane Epsilon taken by Air Force Reserve hurricane hunter team over the Atlantic Ocean taken Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020.   Epsilon’s maximum sustained winds have dropped slightly as it prepares to sideswipe Bermuda on a path over the Atlantic Ocean.  The National Hurricane Center says it should come close enough Thursday, Oct. 22, evening to merit a tropical storm warning for the island.  (Air Force Reserve via AP)
Hurricane Epsilon expected to remain offshore but will push waves at Atlantic Canada

Epsilon is not expected to have any real impact on land

A voter places her absentee ballot in the ballot box, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020, at Merrill Auditorium in Portland, Maine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Robert F. Bukaty
American voters living in Canada increasingly being counted in presidential race

The largest number of Canadian-based American voters cast their ballots in New York and California

A composite image of three photographs shows BC NDP Leader John Horgan, left, in Coquitlam, B.C., on Sept. 25, 2020; BC Green Party Leader Sonia Furstenau, centre, in Victoria on Sept. 24, 2020; and BC Liberal Party Leader Andrew Wilkinson Pitt Meadows, B.C., on Sept. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck, Chad Hipolito
British Columbia votes in snap election called during COVID-19 pandemic

NDP Leader John Horgan called the snap election one year before the fixed voting date

Nunavut's provincial flag flies on a flag pole in Ottawa, on Tuesday June 30, 2020. The annual report from Nunavut's representative for children and youth says "complacency and a lack of accountability" in the territory's public service means basic information about young people needing services isn’t tracked. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Nunavut’s young people ‘should be expecting more’ from government services: advocate

‘The majority of information we requested is not tracked or was not provided by departments’

Most Read