Nova Scotia’s justice minister says most details of a joint federal-provincial inquiry into a mass killing in the province have been finalized.
Mark Furey says he’s working out a time and location for an announcement with his federal counterpart.
Furey said two weeks ago that an announcement was imminent for some form of probe into the rampage on April 18-19 in which a gunman killed 22 people.
However, Furey said Thursday it’s taken longer than anticipated “to work out the fine details” with his federal counterpart Bill Blair, creating a delay in the announcement.
Furey has said the probe must have certain features, including judicial leadership, the power to compel witnesses to testify and the ability to make binding recommendations.
He’d also said he and his staff were negotiating with Ottawa to determine the best option, which could include a traditional federal-provincial public inquiry led by an independent commissioner.
“We’ve worked extensively with the federal government over the past weeks to find the right mechanism to ensure the appropriate questions are asked … to ensure the appropriate answers are gathered and from that there are recommendations that can effect change,” Furey said.
Since the attacks in northern and central Nova Scotia, the federal and provincial governments have faced increasing pressure to call an inquiry into one of the worst mass killings in Canadian history. Those demanding action have included family members, opposition politicians and more than 30 Dalhousie University law professors.
The law professors warned against holding a review that is limited or too narrow in scope, saying there are important, broad issues to examine, including the role of intimate partner violence.
The RCMP has confirmed the killer attacked his common law partner before he started killing people on the night of April 18. Other witnesses have come forward to say they knew about the shooter’s history of domestic abuse.
Furey repeated on Thursday he would like the investigation to take a restorative approach, which is what the province did in 2015 when it looked into allegations of long-term abuse at a former orphanage in the Halifax area.
The Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children Restorative Inquiry 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.
“It’s safe to say this is a new vision we’re embarking on to get the answers families, communities and Nova Scotians need,” Furey said.
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