As public frustration mounts over delays in calling an inquiry into the Nova Scotia shooting, Justice Minister Mark Furey says he expects to have an update sometime next week.
On Thursday, he told reporters he’s in the “final stages” of discussion with federal Public Safety Minister Bill Blair, who is working with him to determine the best format for a probe into massacre that left 22 innocent Nova Scotians dead in April.
It’s a complex process, he explained, that must consider the spread of federal, provincial and municipal agencies involved, and who has jurisdiction over those groups.
“There’s more to the discussion than simply calling an inquiry,” Furey said. “We need…the authority and ability to have witnesses participate and provide meaningful input. Those individuals need protection as witnesses. What does that look like? The review itself has to be independent.”
The Nova Scotia government has pushed for Ottawa to take the lead on a public inquiry into the shooting because it could compel co-operation from the RCMP and Canadian Border Services Agency and Criminal Intelligence Service Canada, for example.
The province could compel the Nova Scotia Criminal Intellige Service, said Furey, and provide support to the victims’ families as they navigate the process.
“This is the focus of the work we’re doing. How can we ensure families have a meaningful role?” he asked.
“Past discussions around inquiries, to be quite frank, it has been about them without them, and that is simply unacceptable… This is a new approach and it’s taking a little longer.”
On Thursday, Nova Scotia RCMP provided their first televised update on the shooting in more than a month. Among other things, it revealed the preliminary findings of a psychological autopsy of the gunman.
Police described him as an “injustice collector” — someone who held onto who held onto disputes and conflicts, “turning them inward until they boiled over in rage.”
“We may never uncover all of the details or fully understand why the gunman did what he did,” said RCMP Supt. Darren Campbell.
“The investigation is committed to providing answers to the victims, the surviving family members, the public, and to hold anyone who played a role accountable in these horrible crimes.”
Furey said Nova Scotia has “an opportunity to get this right” and affect change in how inquiries and reviews into such atrocities take place in Canada. In this case, he added, it’s important that the terms of reference be broad enough to include analysis of gender-based violence, domestic violence and mental health.
“I just want to make sure that it’s a platform or a medium that is as broad in scope as we possibly can be, and focus on the critical elements so the outcomes and the recommendations are those that both the federal government and provincial government can take away and implement,” he explained.
“Only then will we be able to affect change.”