It is a farce that Attorney General Mark Furey – a former RCMP officer in charge of police work in Nova Scotia – continues to be involved in investigating mass shootings while he is in a clear conflict of interest, says an attorney who has the Representing families of the victims of the shooting in a proposed class action lawsuit.
“I think Minister Furey should have done the honorable thing and removed himself from the process from the start, but I think the Prime Minister should have removed him from that position,” said Rob Pineo.
Conflict of Interest Commissioner Joseph Kennedy is reviewing Furey’s involvement in the investigation. Furey served in the force for more than 30 years, including as a district commander in Lunenburg and as a police advisor to the provincial government.
The commissioner’s office said in an email on Tuesday that the matter is still under investigation. Neither the commissioner’s office nor the Justice Department have committed to making Kennedy’s decision on the matter public.
The lawsuit, which involves 16 families against the province and the RCMP, accuses the government, among other things, of not providing sufficient police resources to respond to Canada’s worst mass shootings on April 18-19, in which April 22nd People perished. This will also be one of the central questions that will be at the fore in the public inquiry into the tragedy.
Pineo believes that Furey should never have been given the power to rule on the mandate of the joint investigation and the three commissioners who will oversee the process.
“The Province of Nova Scotia is hiring the RCMP and they have not allocated enough funds for adequate resources, adequate number of members, and these questions are being raised right before the commission and the courts and the fact that Minister Furey was involved in determining handled The mandate smells like a pure conflict of interest. ”
Pineo said he and the family members he represents want the investigation to get to the bottom of why it took the province and federal government so long to commit to a joint investigation and why family members never consulted on the guidelines were. The two levels of government announced the joint investigation six months after the massacre and after a failed attempt to conduct an in camera review of the tragedy.
The province’s Conflict of Interest Act states that even a perceived conflict of interest is a cause for a member of the government to withdraw from a matter. The reason for this is to maintain public confidence in the governance and, in this case, the judicial process.
“When there is a perceived conflict of interest, the public loses confidence in the process that is about to take place,” said Pineo. “We do not know what current connections the minister has with RCMP members or whether people in charge of the command have in this regard.” Case, were former personal colleagues of his. I’m not suggesting that Furey did anything wrong at this level, but it’s the perception of conflict, the perception of bias and that is exactly what is the case here. ”
Nova Scotia progressive Conservative leader Tim Houston shares similar views, and Kennedy’s investigation came after the Tory leader asked about the investigation in an affidavit filed with the commissioner’s office in September.
Furey has insisted that there is no conflict and that previous advice he received from Kennedy on similar matters will put his mind at ease. Furey provided the Commissioner with a final written response on October 28, but the Minister did not provide details on the document or whether he would publish the Commissioner’s decision on the matter.
A Justice Department spokeswoman said the commissioner “controls his own process”. The Commissioner has the power to release his decision if he considers it in the public interest. In an email, however, a spokesman for the bureau said only that the commissioner’s investigation is still ongoing.
Wayne MacKay, a law professor at Dalhousie University, also believes that Furey should have removed himself from the investigative process from the start and that he reduced public confidence in the process. Like Pineo, he said he was concerned about the time it would take the province and government to commit to a full public inquiry and said the delay created the impression that Furey and his public safety counterpart Bill Blair, were trying to hide something.
“It’s all about optics and it is important that people have confidence in the process, to be legitimate and to pursue the truth without prejudice and interference. That is the goal,” MacKay said. “I think it’s important that the government do everything it can.” promote this goal. ”
The law professor said removing Furey from the investigative process would restore some level of public confidence in the upcoming trial.
“Both levels of government cannot retract that they proposed a failed review process, and they cannot retract the fact that it took so long to get the commission up and running, but they can still change that one component, which is do it there is absolutely no doubt that Minister Furey will not introduce any prejudice into the process. “”