Mass Casualty Commission: Advocating to Enhance Democratic Policing and Protect Marginalized Communities

This is a test r1 Read about our work alongside East Coast Prison Justice ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌

Dear Friend,

When a man impersonating an RCMP officer killed 22 people in Nova Scotia in April 2020, the RCMP failed to warn Nova Scotians. This failure perplexed and angered the public, becoming one of the most well-known examples of police action (or inaction) in recent memory. People have been demanding answers ever since, wanting to understand whether the state – especially police – could have better protected the communities harmed.

In an effort to unearth some of those answers, the governments of Canada and Nova Scotia created the Mass Casualty Commission, an independent public inquiry currently underway. Due to our shared interest in human rights and police accountability, the BCCLA joined forces with the East Coast Prison Justice Society to participate in this crucial inquiry.

I wrote more about this in ‘The Mass Casualty Commission: Advocating with East Coast Prison Justice Society... to Enhance Democratic Policing and Protect Marginalized People and Communities.’ Read it here.

The record before the Mass Casualty Commission has revealed a devastating policing failure both on April 18 - 19, 2020 and long before, that contributed to the mass casualty. One of the most disturbing aspects of this catastrophe was revealed in the evidentiary record of the Commission—that some police were either unwilling or unable to perceive the perpetrator as a threat to public safety and properly investigate the man whose core characteristics exemplified those of police culture itself.

The BCCLA is the only civil liberties association with full participant status in the Commission. Our position has helped draw attention to the systemic and cultural nature of policing problems, stressing that it is time to overhaul current oversight mechanisms and look to policing alternatives, as the status quo is ineffective and leaves communities vulnerable. We need strong and independent civilian oversight of police rather than the current labyrinth of weak processes that consistently favour police.

Read our joint submission to the Mass Casualty Commission.

As the Mass Casualty Inquiry continues through to 2023, we will be striving alongside East Coast Prison Justice Society to ensure that the Commission does not inadvertently cause further harm to marginalized people and communities through its final report recommendations to the Canadian and Nova Scotian governments. We will advocate for any recommendations that echo those of the coalition and demand that they are implemented without delay. Thank you for being on our side.

Sincerely,

Meghan McDermott (she/her)
Policy Director

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