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Nova Scotia mass shooting: Public inquiry issues RCMP new subpoena for information


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By Lyndsay Armstrong in Halifax

The public inquiry investigating the 2020 Nova Scotia mass shooting has issued a new subpoena to the RCMP, following concerns the federal police force has withheld documents related to the deaths of 22 people.

The subpoena issued July 4 is one of several followup subpoenas sent to the RCMP for files relevant to the inquiry into the rampage on April 18-19, 2020, senior inquiry counsel Emily Hill said Thursday in an email.

The public inquiry — the Mass Casualty Commission — continues to “seek assurance that nothing else is being held back,” Hill said, adding that counsel is conducting an ongoing audit to determine the level of RCMP compliance in releasing information.

Hill was referring to comments on June 24 by Barbara McLean, the inquiry’s investigations director, who said she and her colleagues were seeking an explanation from the federal Justice Department for why four pages of notes written by a senior Mountie were withheld for several months.

The four pages, handwritten by Supt. Darren Campbell, allege that during a meeting shortly after the mass shooting, RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki told those present that she had promised the federal Public Safety Department and the Prime Minister’s Office that information on the guns used by the shooter would be released because it was “tied to pending gun control legislation.”

The documents describing Lucki’s alleged comments were not included in the 132 pages of Campbell’s notes shared with the commission in February 2022. The missing pages were submitted on May 31. The superintendent’s notes sparked controversy in Ottawa, when the opposition Tories and New Democrats accused the governing Liberals of interfering in a police investigation for political gain — assertions denied by the government and Lucki.

The Nova Scotia RCMP detachment has so far been issued several followup subpoenas for material that was not found in the investigative files submitted by the federal police force, Hill said.

In total, the commission has issued more than 80 subpoenas to various parties since March 2021, Hill said in a media briefing Thursday, adding that she and her colleagues will continue to use the power of subpoena “to get the documents we need to do our work.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 7, 2022.

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

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Supreme Court of Canada won’t hear unvaccinated woman’s case for organ donation

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The Supreme Court of Canada will not hear the appeal of an Alberta woman who was unwilling to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to get a life-saving organ transplant.

Annette Lewis was diagnosed with a terminal disease in 2018 and was told she would not survive unless she received an organ transplant.

She was placed on a transplant wait list in 2020, but was informed a year later she would need to get the COVID-19 vaccine to receive the organ.

Lewis said taking the vaccine would offend her conscience and argued the requirement violated her Charter rights to life, conscience, liberty and security of the person.

“I ought to have the choice about what goes into my body, and a life-saving treatment cannot be denied to me because I chose not to take an experimental treatment for a condition — COVID-19 — which I do not have and which I may never have,” Lewis said in an affidavit previously submitted to court.

The case was dismissed by an Alberta court, which said the Charter has no application to clinical treatment decisions, in particular for doctors establishing preconditions for organ transplants.

Justice Paul Belzil ruled that standard of care must be the same for all potential recipients or it could result in “medical chaos.”

The Alberta Court of Appeal upheld the decision, prompting Lewis’s appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.

“Ms. Lewis is deeply disappointed that the Supreme Court of Canada decided not to hear her case,” Allison Pejovic, Lewis’s lawyer, said in a news release from the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms.

“She had hoped that justice would prevail in the courts for herself and other unvaccinated transplant candidates across Canada.”

Pejovic said Lewis’s constitutional challenge ends with the Supreme Court of Canada’s dismissal but she will continue trying to get the life-saving surgery.

Lewis recently filed a separate legal action against Alberta Health Services, an Alberta hospital and the transplant doctors.

There is a publication ban on the doctors’ identities, the organ involved and the location of the transplant program.

Lewis is arguing negligence in the decision to remove her from the high-priority transplant list, saying it amounts to medical malpractice.

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms said Lewis will ask the court at an upcoming injunction hearing to grant an immediate reinstatement to the transplant list pending the result of the court action.

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Lawyer tells Alberta’s highest court review board biased in de Grood’s case

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