Yielding to public pressure, the federal government and the government of Nova Scotia have agreed on Tuesday to abandon the idea of an “independent review committee” on the slaughter that has left 22 dead in Nova Scotia, in April.
28 July 2020 23h25
Murder-Nova Scotia: this will eventually be a public inquiry
The canadian Press
HALIFAX — yielding to public pressure, the federal government and the government of Nova Scotia have agreed on Tuesday to abandon the idea of an “independent review committee” on the slaughter that has left 22 dead in Nova Scotia, in April, and lead rather a public inquiry.
The commissioners will thus be able to summon witnesses and compel them to give evidence under oath or to produce documents.
The minister of public Safety, Bill Blair, made the announcement Tuesday afternoon after five mps, the federal liberals in Nova Scotia have broken ranks and challenged openly the decision of their own government, announced last week.
Earlier in the day, the minister of Justice of Nova Scotia Mark Furey, had forced the hand of Mr Blair, indicating that he would support a public inquiry, federal-provincial more complete if Ottawa agreed to do so. “I have heard members of the family (of the victims), and many nova scotians who are opposed to a joint review and would prefer a public inquiry joint”, wrote Tuesday, Mr. Furey said in a statement.
The two governments had announced last Thursday that they committed to an “independent review committee” of three members the mandate to look into the causes and circumstances of the killing of the 18 and 19 April. But this exercise was not to be fully public, contrary to the wishes of many.
“The tragedy that occurred in Nova Scotia on 18 and 19 April 2020 has devastated families, friends and communities,” says now minister Blair in a press release. “This situation demands that our governments are working diligently with all those affected by this tragedy to offer answers to their important questions, and to ensure that an event never happens again.”
“We have heard the requests of the families, the survivors, the representatives and members of parliament from Nova Scotia for greater transparency.”
Before this change, of course, of Ottawa, Darren Fisher, deputy federal liberal Dartmouth-Cole Harbour, had explained to his constituents on Twitter that he had been pushing for a public inquiry. “I think the decision to go ahead with a joint review has been taken with good intentions; however, the severity of this tragedy requires a larger response,” he maintained. “I hear my voice on this issue to decision-makers of our government.”
The other four liberal members of parliament had urged their colleague Blair to change course : Lenore Zann, Andy Fillmore, Sean Fraser and Mike Kelloway.
But the independent review committee was also criticised by the families of the victims and of the experts. Dozens of academics, women’s groups, opposition politicians and more than 30 senators have come forward to complain about the lack of transparency and powers of this committee, despite its wide mandate. Two other events were held Monday in Nova Scotia and a third was scheduled for Wednesday in Halifax.
Mr. Blair said Tuesday that the public inquiry will be conducted by those who had been appointed to the “independent review committee” : the ex-chief justice of the Nova Scotia J. Michael MacDonald, the former liberal minister of Justice Anne McLellan, and former chief of Fredericton police Leanne Fitch.