Response to the release of the Mass Casualty Commission final report
On Thursday, March 30, 2023, the Mass Casualty Commission (MCC) released its final report, Turning the Tide Together: Final Report of the Mass Casualty Commission, which includes a number of recommendations for the RCMP and our partners across Canada.
The Mass Casualty Commission was mandated to examine the April 2020 incidents, and provide a thorough review of what happened, and how and why it happened. With any review, there will be lessons learned and room for improvement, which we welcome.
RCMP Commissioner Mike Duheme and Assistant Commissioner Dennis Daley publicly addressed the report in Truro, Nova Scotia, and provided an update on the RCMP’s progress since the mass casualty.
We owe it to the victims and their families to do everything we can to learn from this, make improvements and be a much better organization to respond to similar incidents in the future.
Our thoughts are with the victims’ families, the survivors and Nova Scotia.
On this page
- Response from Commissioner Mike Duheme
- Response from Assistant Commissioner Dennis Daley, Commanding Officer of Nova Scotia
Response from Commissioner Mike Duheme
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Good afternoon. It is with profound emotions that I stand in front of you today, but with a firm understanding of the importance of why we are here.
I am joined by Assistant Commissioner Dennis Daley, Commanding Officer of the Nova Scotia RCMP. Before I begin, I want to note that my full remarks in both official languages will be available on the RCMP’s national website.
As the Commissioner of the RCMP, I want to thank the Mass Casualty Commission for its extensive work, and for allowing everyone to be heard and producing the comprehensive report that was released today.
The RCMP will meet the same high standards of thoroughness and transparency in our response.
I would also like to acknowledge the participants and witnesses who contributed to this important process, in spite of how painful it was to relive and speak publicly about these events.
Today, we remember Tom Bagley; Kristen Beaton, who was expecting a child; Greg and Jamie Blair; Joy and Peter Bond; Lillian Campbell; Corrie Ellison; Gina Goulet; Dawn and Frank Gulenchyn; Alanna Jenkins and Sean McLeod; Lisa McCully; Heather O’Brien; Jolene Oliver, Aaron Tuck, and Emily Tuck; Constable Heidi Stevenson; E. Joanne Thomas and John Zahl; and Joey Webber.
To their families, and to the survivors and communities in this province, I am deeply sorry for the unimaginable pain and suffering, and for the traumatic events you’ve experienced.
As police officers, we bear a tremendous responsibility to keep people and communities safe. The April 2020 mass casualty event was something we had never seen before in Canada, and I can’t even imagine what you have endured.
The RCMP is fully committed to rebuilding the trust and confidence of Nova Scotians. As part of these efforts, we must ensure that the vital work of the Commission will have a lasting impact on public safety — locally, nationally, and internationally.
To those RCMP employees who responded to these incidents, Constable Stevenson’s family, Constable Morrison, and those directly impacted, I’m sorry for your loss and for your sacrifice in the line of duty.
When tragedy strikes, we are often asked if we did enough; if we could have done things differently.
Through watching the events unfold, being briefed and visiting the sites of this horrific crime this week, and talking to employees who responded in the first 13 hours, I know RCMP employees worked to the best of their abilities and did everything they could with the training and equipment they were provided.
But we must learn, and we are committed to doing just that.
I know our employees are dedicated to Nova Scotians, and I saw that commitment when I began my career in New Minas, Nova Scotia.
I have been thinking of my own experiences as a police officer, and how community members and our police officers felt in April 2020. RCMP employees come to work every day wanting to make a difference, but like all first responders, we never know what the shift will hold.
To Nova Scotians and Canadians, the RCMP is committed to learning from this tragedy and moving forward as a stronger organization.
One of the many important issues raised during the Inquiry was how the public was informed of threats in real time. I believe it is important for me to note that the RCMP has made significant advancements in the use of public alerting since this horrific incident in Nova Scotia.
We now have robust national and divisional policies that help us inform the public, quickly and effectively, when needed.
This was seen in our response to the James Smith Cree Nation tragedy in Saskatchewan, and it has had a positive impact on police agencies across Canada.
We fully recognize the importance of reviewing lessons learned and continuing to improve our operations.
The RCMP will follow the advice of the Mass Casualty Commission to take the time to read and process the report.
My senior management team and I will move forward with conviction and commitment to act on the Commission’s recommendations that fall within the scope of the RCMP’s authorities, and we will work closely with our safety and security partners. This will add to the work already underway to improve our service to Canadians.
We will act on these recommendations — just as we have applied other lessons learned since April 2020.
We need to share these lessons with our partners, and continue to improve how we work together to protect the safety of the public.
A key priority for us is to go forward in lock step with policing partners in Nova Scotia and across the country.
We must recognize where we need to make changes, and we are grateful to the Commission for its guidance. To make sure we get this right, the RCMP has put in place a team to study the report and recommendations, to guide our action plan and publicly report on progress.
We will continue to learn from this tragedy and do better. Please know that I am committed to doing just that, along with senior management and all employees of the RCMP.
We will keep working every day to live up to our commitment to protect the safety of communities, here in Nova Scotia and across the country.
Before I turn to Assistant Commissioner Dennis Daley, let me just conclude by reiterating my commitment to learning from this report and doing better for Nova Scotians and Canadians.
Thank you for the opportunity to speak today.
Response from Assistant Commissioner Dennis Daley, Commanding Officer of Nova Scotia
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As the Commanding Officer of the Nova Scotia RCMP, I, too, want victims’ families and survivors to know I am sorry for the pain and trauma you have suffered.
The individuals who responded in April 2020 did their best while putting the safety and wellbeing of others ahead of their own. But I know our response wasn't what you needed it to be. And for that, I am deeply sorry.
I cannot know your loss; what I hope I can do is provide assurance of our commitment to you —
While we can’t change what happened in 2020, we can — and we will — learn.
And with that learning, we will improve.
I echo Commissioner Duheme’s appreciation to the Mass Casualty Commission. The work that has been done over the last months will help guide public safety in Nova Scotia, and in every community across the country — communities served by the RCMP and those served by other police services.
As we noted from day one of the inquiry, the RCMP fully supported the independent mandate of the MCC to examine the incidents of April 2020.
And we are here today with a promise to act on the MCC’s recommendations in a manner that is transparent to the victims, survivors and their families.
With any review, areas for improvement are identified. But I want Nova Scotians, and all Canadians, to know we did not wait for the release of today’s MCC report to make important changes.
As you heard from Commissioner Duheme, since 2020, much work has been done across our organization to improve our operational capacity.
We have enhanced resourcing for our emergency response team. We have invested in new equipment. We have opened a state-of-the art Operational Communications Centre here in Nova Scotia. Our employees have received additional training in a number of key areas. We have added to our protocols around critical incident command and management. We have worked to improve relationships with our policing partners across the province. And, as Commissioner Duheme noted, we have changed our approach to emergency alerting.
These are a few examples of the many changes we have already implemented.
And we are fully committed to more change.
Informed by the MCC report, and in collaboration with our partners in policing, public safety, community services, and other areas, we’ll be leaning into the recommendations with the goal of making the communities we live in, and work in, safer.
To protect and preserve life is our number one priority.
Nova Scotians: this commitment to continuous improvement is what you can expect from me as the leader of your provincial police service.
Assistant Commissioner Dennis Daley
Commanding Officer of Nova Scotia
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