Public Safety Minister Bill Blair announced on Tuesday that the federal government and the province of Nova Scotia have agreed to hold a public inquiry into the Nova Scotia shooting following backlash from the public and the victims’ families.
On April 18, 2020, Gabriel Wortman impersonated a police officer and committed the shootings that left 22 people dead.
“Canadians deserve answers to how such a tragedy could occur,” said Blair.
“This situation requires that our governments work diligently with all those affected by this tragedy to bring forward the critical answers, and to ensure an event such as this will never happen again.”
The move comes less than a week after Blair and the federal government announced an “independent review panel” into the shooting.
Review panels have significantly less power than public inquiries. Panels cannot compel witnesses and cannot produce binding reports to the government. At the time, Blair insisted that a review panel was the best option.
The move was met with outrage from the victims’ families and legal experts who said that a review panel would not have the power to conduct a thorough investigation.
Last week, hundreds took part in a march in Truro, Nova Scotia to demand that the government reverse its decision and launch a public inquiry.
The public inquiry, which will be chaired by former Nova Scotia chief justice Michael MacDonald, former Fredericton police chief Leanne Fitch and former deputy prime minister Anne McLellan, will have the power to subpoena witnesses and order documents from government agencies to aid their investigation.
Robert Pineo, a lawyer for the victims’ families, told CBC that his clients appreciate the government’s decision to hold an inquiry.
“It is unfortunate the families had to go through the turmoil of the last three days worrying about this, but at the end of the day, the government did the right thing,” he said.
“The public inquiry will ensure that the people who need to speak will speak, that the documents that need to be seen will be seen, and that a full and complete understanding about what happened, and how it can be avoided in the future, will be achieved.”