Mi’kma’ki (unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq People) Truro, NS – The BC Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) and East Coast Prison Justice Society (ECPJS) welcome the Final Report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Mass Casualty events of April 18 – 19, 2020 in Nova Scotia, released today. The Commission’s final report calls for a community-focused approach to public safety and a strengthening of police governance and accountability that are badly needed in Nova Scotia and across Canada.
The BCCLA and ECPJS participated as a coalition in the Inquiry, drawing attention to the systemic nature of policing failures and stressing that current oversight mechanisms are ineffective. The final report accepted many of these submissions, including calling for community-focused approaches to public safety and greater democratic accountability and oversight of police. While we are encouraged by these calls for change, we are concerned that the recommendations maintain the public complaints model in which the RCMP investigates itself, despite the Commission hearing that the people most impacted by poor policing are unlikely to file a complaint knowing that it may be investigated internally.
Our coalition is grateful to the families of the 22 victims, one of whom was pregnant, for demanding transparency and accountability. Without their advocacy, the public would not have learned what happened and why it happened. As we digest the entirety of the final report, we will continue to advocate for the prompt implementation of the many helpful recommendations on community safety, gender-based violence, and police accountability. This will require urgent action by federal and provincial governments that has often not materialized following detailed findings of systemic policing failures.
“We share the commissioners’ conclusion that responding to gender-based violence requires non-police alternatives to public safety and that enhanced police governance is required to address the many policing failures identified in the final report.” said Harry Critchley, Co-Chair of the ECPJS.
“Given the final report’s finding that police systematically fail to properly respond to gender-based violence, it’s concerning that the commissioners did not recommend more robust improvements to existing civilian oversight bodies.” said Meghan McDermott, Policy Director for the BCCLA.