Joint Public Inquiry into the Nova Scotia April 2020 Tragedy

The Governments of Canada and Nova Scotia announced their intent to establish a comprehensive joint public inquiry into the Nova Scotia April 2020 tragedy in July 2020. The inquiry will help determine what happened and will make recommendations to help prevent similar tragic events in the future.

The Commissioners

The three individuals jointly selected to undertake the Inquiry are the Honourable J. Michael MacDonald, Ms. Leanne J. Fitch and Dr. Kim Stanton.

Chief Commissioner – The Honourable J. Michael MacDonald served as Chief Justice of Nova Scotia until his retirement in 2019. As Chief Justice, he led, or promoted, several judicial outreach initiatives with Nova Scotia’s Mi’kmaw and Black communities. He also led initiatives to enhance diversity on Nova Scotia’s benches, including a judicial mentorship program for Black and Mi’kmaw lawyers and justice day camps for students from Nova Scotia’s marginalized communities. The Honourable Michael MacDonald was a member of the Canadian Judicial Council for 20 years, and chaired several of its committees. After retiring from the bench, he has joined Stewart McKelvey as counsel. In that capacity, he promotes similar initiatives through the firm’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee. The Nova Scotia Branch of the Canadian Bar Association awards annually the J. Michael MacDonald Access to Justice Award to honour his work in the area of access to justice. He is a recipient of both the Queen’s Golden Medal and the Diamond Jubilee Medal.

Ms. Leanne J. Fitch retired from 34 years in municipal policing in 2019. She served seven years as Chief of Police for the Fredericton Police Force, seven years as Deputy Chief and 20 years in a range of front-line operational policing roles. Ms. Fitch has Bachelor and Master’s degrees in sociology from the University of New Brunswick. She is a former roundtable member for the provincial Department of Public Safety on Crime Reduction and Domestic and Intimate Partner Violence, and former member of the New Brunswick Domestic Violence Death Review Committee. She served as chair and vice chair for the Criminal Intelligence Service New Brunswick Provincial Executive Committee. Ms. Fitch is the past co-chair of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police Crime Prevention, Community Safety and Wellbeing Committee where she was instrumental in developing the CACP National Framework for Collaborative Police Action on Intimate Partner Violence. She remains involved in three separate research projects on intimate partner violence. She completed a one-year term as vice-chairperson of the inaugural RCMP Management Advisory Board, established to provide the RCMP Commissioner with expert external advice on the management and administration of the RCMP. Leanne is a recipient of the Queens’ Diamond Jubilee Medal and is a Member of the Order of Merit of Police Forces from the Governor General.

Dr. Kim Stanton practices Aboriginal and constitutional law at Goldblatt Partners LLP in Toronto. Raised in southern Alberta, she completed her honours undergraduate degree at the University of Calgary, her law degree at the University of British Columbia, and Masters and Doctoral degrees in law at the University of Toronto. After clerking at the British Columbia Supreme Court and practising litigation at a national law firm in Vancouver, she spent a year in West Africa working at the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development before returning to practice in Vancouver. A former Legal Director of the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF), she worked with community-based organizations and built coalitions across the country to advance equality rights and improve access to justice for marginalized people in areas spanning criminal law, human rights law, socioeconomic rights, reproductive justice, and violence against Indigenous women and girls. She publishes in the areas of constitutional law, transitional justice and public inquiries and has served as an adjudicator on a provincial administrative tribunal. In 2016, the federal Minister of the Status of Women appointed Dr. Stanton to her Advisory Council on the Federal Strategy Against Gender-based Violence.

The Commissioners will work at arm’s-length from both levels of government. Their work and mandate are outlined in the two Orders in Council that establish the Joint Public Inquiry.

More information can be found in the Orders in Council or by contacting the Joint Public Inquiry directly.


The Joint Public Inquiry’s Commissioners must submit two reports to the Governments of Canada and Nova Scotia on their findings, lessons learned and recommendations – an interim report by May 1, 2022 and a final report by November 1, 2022.   


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