HALIFAX, and TRURO, NS, March 9, 2022 /CNW/ - Today, at the Mass Casualty Commission's public proceedings, the Commissioners issued a decision about witnesses who will be called to testify. The Mass Casualty Commission is the independent public inquiry examining the April 2020 mass casualty in Nova Scotia.
The Commission began its public proceedings February 22 and is focused on determining what happened during the events of April 18 and 19 2020, and why it happened. It will make recommendations to help protect Canadians and ensure communities across the country are safe.
Witnesses to be called
Below are some of the witnesses to be called. The full decision is available on the Commission website: Process and Mandate | Mass Casualty Commission.
Lisa Banfield, the perpetrator's common law spouse, is expected to be interviewed by the Commission beginning today. The Commission anticipates that it will hear from her (under subpoena as with all other witnesses) to address remaining questions, or to provide important context, later in its process.
Constables Stuart Beselt, Adam Merchant and Aaron Patton, the first three RCMP officers who arrived on the scene in Portapique on April 18, will be called as witnesses to testify March 28.
They will provide testimony together as part of a witness panel. These panels are commonly used in public inquiries as a way to draw out facts and experiences of a group of people who shared a common experience.
Several senior RCMP officers involved in making command decisions – S/Sgt. Steve Halliday, S/Sgt. Addie MacCallum, Sgt. Andrew O'Brien, S/Sgt. Brian Rehill and S/Sgt. Jeff West – will be called as witnesses in the second half of May, at which time the Commission will have presented more of the factual Foundational Documents, including one focused on RCMP command decisions.
This timing will ensure the best-informed questions can be asked of these officers.
The Commissioners issued the decision as to who will testify after counsel presented submissions and recommendations about potential witnesses during three days of public proceedings. These submissions followed the Commission sharing its first three (of more than 30) Foundational Documents with the public (available on the Commission website). The goal of Participant submissions is to help the Commission uncover more facts, address gaps and points of differences in its investigation so far.
The Participants include a broad and diverse group with different positions and perspectives. They include the families of the victims, first responders, government institutions and various advocacy groups, all represented by their own legal counsel. They have been involved since the Commission's inception and have helped to shape the inquiry.
"I want to thank the Participants for their help in identifying the witnesses who can assist us in providing more facts, correcting any errors, and filling the gaps in our information," said Honourable J. Michael MacDonald, the Commission chair. "These will not be the only witnesses called during our proceedings. We intend to hear oral evidence when it will add to the factual record in a meaningful way."
In addition to the witnesses proposed by Participants, the Commission also stated that it intends to subpoena the following senior RCMP representatives once the factual foundation is established this spring/summer:
- Commissioner Brenda Lucki
- A/Commr. Lee Bergerman
- Chief Supt. Chris Leather
- Supt. Darren Campbell
All witnesses named in the decision will be called pursuant to a subpoena to provide sworn or affirmed testimony either as individual witnesses or as part of witness panels.
Questions for witnesses will be determined by Commission counsel in consultation with the counsel for Participants and, where it is appropriate, Participant counsel will be able to question witnesses themselves.
More witnesses will be identified and called later in public proceedings as the Commission continues to work through presenting more than 30 Foundational Documents, which organize information from the thousands of statements, video tapes, audio recordings, 911 calls and other information collected during the Commission's investigations.
As additional Foundational Documents are released and made public, Participants will have the opportunity to recommend other witnesses. Time will be set aside at regular points during public proceedings for submissions and recommendations.
Sometimes a witness, who has been recommended for a particular segment of the inquiry, will be asked to testify later. This is because the Foundational Documents are designed to layer on top of one another, providing facts pertaining to different aspects of the mass casualty and because a witness may have information that applies to more than one Foundational Document.
For more information, please visit the Commission's website: www.MassCasualtyCommission.ca
Inquiry Process Overview
Rules of Practice and Procedure
Orders in Council
Mental Health and Wellness Information
About the Mass Casualty Commission: The Commission into the April 2020 Nova Scotia Mass Casualty (the "Mass Casualty Commission") is an independent public inquiry created to examine the April 18–19, 2020 mass casualty in Nova Scotia and to provide meaningful recommendations to help protect Canadians in the future. For more information, see https://masscasualtycommission.ca/.
SOURCE Mass Casualty Commission
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