Canada: Nova Scotia shooting inquiry report slams RCMP response to 2020 tragedy
Ottawa [Canada], March 31,2023 (ANI): The long-anticipated Mass Casualty Commission's final report into the 2020 Nova Scotia shooting highlighted significant systemic issues within Canada's national police force Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and called for widespread changes, reported The Globe and Mail.
The Mass Casualty Commission (MCC), funded by both the federal and Nova Scotia governments, was charged with examining how a man dressed as a Mountie and driving a fake RMCP patrol car was able to methodically murder his neighbours in the rural community of Portapique, Nova Scotia, then take his killing spree on the road and leave 22 people dead, all while evading police for 13 hours in April, 2020. The public inquiry into the worst mass shooting in Canadian history has called for sweeping reforms within the RCMP to improve accountability, oversight and training, as well as tougher gun restrictions and a national standard for public alerts, reported The Globe and Mail.
The wide-ranging report examining the tragedy was publicly released in a series of volumes Thursday, totalling more than 3,000 pages.
"The future of the RCMP and of provincial policing requires focused re-evaluation," said the report titled Turning the Tide Together, adding, "We need to rethink the role of the police in a wider ecosystem of public safety."
The commission had a broad mandate to examine a wide range of issues - from the killer's access to firearms to what it called the "root causes" of his brutality, and societal failures to intervene in the gunman's history of family and intimate partner violence. Those incidents, which led to complaints to police but never charges, should have served as warning signs, the commissioners said, reported The Globe and Mail.
The inquiry calls on Ottawa to rethink the RCMP's central role in Canadian policing. The commission's chair, former chief justice of Nova Scotia Michael MacDonald, addressed Prime Minster Justin Trudeau, Nova Scotia premier Tim Houston, and all premiers, to find the political will to implement the changes needed to improve public safety in Canada.
"Those lives cannot have been taken in vain. That cannot happen," he said.
In the weeks and months after the April 2020 mass casualty, those most affected, Nova Scotians, and the Canadian public were shaken further by revelations about the RCMP's apparent lack of preparedness for a critical incident response of this scale," wrote the report's authors -- former chief justice of Nova Scotia Michael MacDonald, retired police chief Leanne Fitch and lawyer Kim Stanton -- reported The Globe and Mail.
The report was critical of the RCMP's operational tactics, decision-making and supervision. The mass shooting demonstrates the need for faster responses to critical incidents, improved 911 communications, better air support during manhunts and a clear policy prohibiting alcohol consumption by officers responding to calls.
It called for a transformation within the force, starting with recruiting and training and saying that the current 26-week model of training in Regina no longer meets the complex demands of policing. The academy should be replaced with a three-year, degree-based model of education, as exists in Finland, reported The Globe and Mail.
The commission also wants Ottawa to pass a law with the guiding principle of "a prevention-first approach to public safety," that sees police as "collaborative partners" with better-funded centres for rural mental health and front-line workers who combat intimate-partner violence.
The RCMP have been widely criticized for their handling of the manhunt, including failing to properly alert the public that an armed killer was on the loose, their inability to intervene in the years leading up to the attack, despite multiple complaints against the gunman, and a disorganised, stumbling response after the first 911 calls began coming in.
The report recommends that the federal public safety minister stop giving direction to the RCMP commissioner, which will require an amendment to the RCMP Act.
The commission said the RCMP and the provinces must fix the broken contract-policing model before current deals expire in 2032 and say local governments must be given more say in how the federal force polices their communities. It has also called for changes to the RCMP Act to improve the way public complaints are handled, reported The Globe and Mail. (ANI)