The commissioners conducting a full public inquiry into the April 2020 mass shooting in Nova Scotia have started their work, federal Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said today.
They are in the process of setting up a secretariat in the province, hiring support staff, establishing a budget and creating a work plan, Blair told MPs during question period in the House of Commons.
Blair was responding to Conservative critic for public safety Shannon Stubbs, who asked about the progress of the inquiry six months after the shooting.
“[The] inquiry has now been established by Order in Council and the commissioners have begun their work,” Blair responded.
The final commissioner and the terms of reference are now in place for the inquiry in the tragic shootings earlier this year in Nova Scotia. They will find the answers we’re all seeking, and together we’ll make sure nothing like this happens again. <a href=”https://t.co/qZIgf5yq6K”>https://t.co/qZIgf5yq6K</a>
Blair said a third commissioner — lawyer Kim Stanton — was appointed after one of the previous commissioners withdrew from the inquiry. Stanton, who practices Aboriginal and constitutional law at Goldblatt Partners LLP in Toronto, will join former Nova Scotia Chief Justice J. Michael MacDonald and former Fredericton police chief Leanne Fitch as inquiry commissioners.
Twenty-two people died in the April 18-19 shootings, which began in the small community of Portapique, N.S., and ended about 13 hours later at a gas station in Enfield, N.S. The shooter — Gabriel Wortman — also set fire to several homes and eluded arrest by impersonating an RCMP officer before being shot dead by police.
The inquiry was set up by the federal and Nova Scotia governments in July to determine what happened and to make recommendations to prevent similar events in the future.
The July announcement came after days of criticism and pressure from family members who said the “independent review” initially planned by the federal and provincial governments wouldn’t have the appropriate powers to conduct a full investigation.
Inquiry commissioners will have the authority to summon witness and require them to give evidence under oath. They also will be empowered to compel witnesses to produce documents or other items they deem relevant to their investigation.
They are expected to deliver two reports on their findings, lessons learned and recommendations — an interim report by May 1, 2022 and a final report by November 1, 2022.