Nova Scotia

'Legalities and technicalities' delay announcement of N.S. mass killing inquiry: Justice minister

On Thursday, Nova Scotia Justice Minister Mark Furey said 'legalities and technicalities' are slowing the process of announcing a public inquiry into the April 18-19 killing rampage that left 22 victims dead in rural Nova Scotia.

'These are circumstances that are taking much more time than I anticipated,' says Mark Furey

Nova Scotia Justice Minister Mark Furey said legal teams are reviewing, finalizing and drafting a compilation of relevant documents for a public inquiry into a mass killing that left 22 victims dead. (Craig Paisley/CBC)

Nova Scotia Justice Minister Mark Furey said an announcement about a public inquiry into the mass killing of 22 people in April is expected sometime this month.

"It's absolutely important that we get this right. I'm not going to commit myself to a timeline — that was a mistake I made a couple of weeks ago, not realizing the legalities around some of this work. But, with confidence, certainly this month," Furey told reporters during a phone conference on Thursday.

Furey, a former Mountie, said "legalities and technicalities" related to the investigation were taking longer than he anticipated, but he declined to elaborate on what exactly he meant.

"These are circumstances that are taking much more time than I anticipated," Furey said.

He said legal teams are reviewing, finalizing and drafting a compilation of relevant documents.

Before a public announcement is made, Furey said families of the victims of the April 18-19 tragedy will be told first

The faces of the 22 victims killed by a gunman in Nova Scotia in April. (CBC)

Furey previously said the province would be working with the federal government on the inquiry, saying the federal government is in the best position to lead it.

Meanwhile a proposed class-action lawsuit against the RCMP from two families for its handling of the rampage and actions in the weeks that followed has been launched.

One month after the mass killings, Nova Scotia law professors called on the premier to launch an inquiry. Family members are also calling for an inquiry.

'A large public frustration'

Archie Kaiser, a professor of law at the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University, said he doesn't understand why Furey isn't delving into what exactly is holding up the process.

"Clearly there's a large public frustration with the delays in fully committing to and establishing a public inquiry and frankly, it's somewhat condescending to the members of the public that somehow or other they could not understand the legalities and technicalities," Kaiser said.

"So I would prefer a more open process and the minister saying exactly what the difficulties he's experiencing are with respect to setting up the inquiry. I think the public could not only understand but may well be able to make a valuable contribution in assisting the minister in finding a process that will suit the public's needs."

'All Canadians want to know what went wrong,' says senator

Earlier this week, five Nova Scotia senators said an inquiry has to happen soon to stave off speculation around the case.

On Thursday, Sen. Mary Coyle said she's happy to hear an announcement is coming. She said families deserve answers and deserve to know first.

"We hope it isn't too many more days or weeks, even understanding there are complexities and wanting to get it right. But the families of the victims, those of us who live in Nova Scotia and, frankly, all Canadians want to know what went wrong here," Coyle said in an interview on Thursday.

She said there are so many questions remaining, including:

"There's so much speculation and the longer we wait for that formal announcement of the joint inquiry, the more speculation will be out there and that's not a healthy thing, that's not a good thing," Coyle said.


Anjuli Patil


Anjuli Patil is a reporter and occasional video journalist with CBC Nova Scotia's digital team.