The Board of Police Commissioners wants to know what the final report from the Mass Casualty Commission means for policing in Halifax.

The commission’s final report, as the Halifax Examiner reported last week, calls for sweeping changes to policing across Canada. And the commission’s recommendations don’t only address the RCMP.

For instance, the MCC recommended the federal government create a new “three-year degree-based model of police education for all police services in Canada.” It also recommended, “The provincial Department of Justice design and provide mandatory standard training in police governance” for police chiefs and commanding officers, civil servants who work on policing, and for police board members.

During its meeting on Monday, Halifax’s board requested a staff report “outlining any major factual findings of the MCC report relevant to the board’s statutory mandate.” The report, to be written by the board’s policy advisor, Josh Bates, will also outline any recommendations from the report “that are within the board’s statutory jurisdiction, either on its own or in tandem with other levels. of government.” And Bates will outline “any other information from the MCC report that the policy advisor considers would be relevant to or helpful for the board in fulfilling its statutory duties and functions.”

Coun. Lindell Smith brought the motion to the board on behalf of Commissioner Harry Critchley, who was absent from Monday’s meeting.

“There’s actually a fair amount that has impacts on us, which is pretty interesting,” Smith said of the report.

“I’m really happy to see that, so I know when you’re going through this, Josh, you’re going to pull out some really good stuff for us.”

Too soon, says chair

Coun. Becky Kent, chair of the board, was concerned the motion was coming too early.

“It’s all relevant, great information, but we just received it, and we all need time to review and digest and absorb,” Kent said.

“We’ll all be months and months, really considering all of the pieces of that report, and we should be. To have [Bates] get started on it without some clarity, comes from us actually finishing at least the executive summary consideration, I think is a little premature.”

Members of the board made reference to a briefing note they already had on the MCC report. It wasn’t made public on the board’s agenda on Monday.

HRM chief administrative officer Cathie O’Toole suggested Bates should work with the municipality’s public safety staff on the report to avoid working in “silos.”

Commissioner Gavin Giles disagreed.

“We’re talking about a level of viewpoint of the reports from the perspective of our agenda, from the perspective of our responsibilities,” Giles said, “and who better to do that but our policy guru, our policy operative?”

Giles rebuked Kent’s concerns, too.

“It’s always a question of what comes first, the chicken or the egg?” Giles said.

“And the suggestion that we should all read the report, or most of the report, or almost all of the report, I think, in order to gain a perspective on how we should instruct somebody who is trained on our behalf and for our purposes to provide policy directives, seems to me to be a bit strange.”

The motion passed unanimously.

Top Mountie in Halifax ‘reading through’ report

Also during Monday’s meeting, Halifax-district RCMP Chief Supt. Jeff Christie told the board he’d downloaded two volumes of the seven-volume report, and he’s “reading through those volumes.”

Christie’s superiors, who received the MCC report 24 hours in advance, have been criticized for not having read even the executive summary or recommendations as of Thursday afternoon.

Christie said the RCMP had been paying attention throughout the MCC.

“We have, for lack of better word, been leaning ahead and forecasting a number of areas which has led to the early adoption of a number of, I will say improvements, or lessons learned from the mass casualty, including alerting,” Christie said.

“We’ll look at each item, each item in the mass casualty report and try and determine, is it within the RCMP’s jurisdiction, or is it within a partner’s jurisdiction, and then try and determine on a case by case basis, what are the steps necessary?”

Chief Dan Kinsella said Halifax Regional Police are “committed to doing our part for the implementation of the report, along with our policing partners.”

A young white man with a dark beard, looking seriously at the viewer in a black and white photo

Zane Woodford

Zane Woodford is the Halifax Examiner’s municipal reporter. He covers Halifax City Hall and contributes to our ongoing PRICED OUT housing series. Twitter @zwoodford

Join the Conversation


Only subscribers to the Halifax Examiner may comment on articles. We moderate all comments. Be respectful; whenever possible, provide links to credible documentary evidence to back up your factual claims. Please read our Commenting Policy.
  1. So they want a report done on a massively detailed and explicit report. Makes sense. Here’s a thought … maybe just use the report that is already there and get on with it.

  2. The MCC report should in fact become a major preoccupation for the BOPC. The flaws in poilicing it highlights are certainly most relevant to the Greater HRM. We have a hybrid policing model of HRM Police and RCMP which frankly is not working to the benefit of residents. There is continuing and I would suggest growing animosity between the two police agencies, and frankly I place most of the responsibility on the part of the RCMP. I have a recent personal example of a family member who suffered a significant theft. The Halifax Police were handling. He identified some of his stolen items in an area of HRM under the jurisdiction of the RCMP. Halifax Police told him they couldn’t follow up because it was in RCMP “territory”. RCMP would not respond as it was an HRP “file”. The family member ended up putting themself at risk in an attempt to retrieve the stolen items. This is NOT community policing. This is silly buggerism and it is citizens who are suffering.

  3. The BOPC members should take the time to read and digest Volume 7 of the report which is devoted to municipal policing. We should have a BOPC which is properly funded and completely independent of the council and the CAO. The Police Act allows a CAO to attend the meetings but participates with the consent of the members, other than that the CAO has no role in the proceedings of the BOPC. In many other provinces the board has its own staff. Legislation governing HRM and other Nova Scotian municipalities contains no reference to policing.

    1. Excerpted from the HRM Charter.

      68 (1) The Council may provide police services in the Municipality by a combination of methods authorized pursuant to the Police Act and the board of police commissioners of the Municipality has jurisdiction over the provision of the police services, notwithstanding that they are provided by a combination of methods.

      (2) The Municipality may contract with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Minister of Justice or another municipality to provide police services. 2008, c. 39, s. 68

      So legislation governing HRM does contain reference to policing. The problem I can see is that Council and the Police Chief have not wanted to abide by subsection (1) “the board of police commissioners of the Municipality has jurisdiction over the provision of the police services”.

      1. The section you quote is taken from the Police Act. HRM frequently does this to give the impression that they have certain powers that they would not have if the powers were not in the HRM Charter. I don’t know why the province approves such sections of the HRM charter, other than as an act of appeasement. If section 68 was not in the HRM charter the city would just comply with the Police Act.
        In addition, the Police Act contains this in section 93 …” Act prevails
        93 (1) Where there is a conflict between this Act and any other Act,
        this Act prevails.
        (2) Every collective agreement is subject to this Act and the regulations and, where there is a conflict between the agreement and this Act or between the agreement and the regulations, this Act and the regulations prevail. 2004, c. 31,s. 93. ”
        Similar clauses with the same provision exist in other provinces.

    2. Correction : Volume 5 details municipal policing : page 536 et seq
      My opinion : An effective board would be independent with its own staff reporting to the board. The CAO of a municipality would not attend meetings except when asked to attend or as an observer. The capital budget would be decided by the board and without council involvement.
      I will remind readers that the controversial proposed purchase of an armoured rescue vehicle was discussed at the April 15 2019 meeting of BOPC, but was being discussed in HRM staff memos as early as June 2018 and was in the draft HRM Capital budget later that year. No councillor, except Coun.Hendsbee noticed the proposed purchase until the item appeared at the April 15 2019 meeting of the BOPC. I obtained all the documents, about 200 pages, related to the possible purchase of the vehicle as a result of my FOIPOP in 2019 and have retained them.
      In late 2019 I asked councillors individually when they first noticed the proposed purchase and only Coun. Hendsbee could recall the vehicle when he read the whole capital budget document. I asked him if he knew on which page it was listed and he was able to name the section and exact page.
      The August 31 2019 Chronicle Herald article is here ( I retained my copy ) :
      Other article re the armoured rescue vehicle are here :

  4. I watched the Board meeting yesterday.  Maybe I have this wrong but the Chair seems determined to throw a wrench into any attempts to  review the Board’s mandate.  The main strategy is to defer and create an overly complicated sub-committee review structure.  
    I think that she would have been successful in defeating the motion had it not been for the intervention of Gavin Giles.  I found that encouraging.
    Another aspect of this meeting that I thought was encouraging was the attendance and participation by HRM’s new CAO, Cathy O’Toole, in the Board’s last two meetings.  I think the significance is that she realizes policing in HRM has to change and wants to keep on top of the process. She made some useful suggestions as to how the motion should be implemented.