November 24, 2023
Halifax, NS — The following is a statement from Brian Sauvé, President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Police Federation (NPF), in response to the joint Nova Scotia Serious Incident Response Team (SIRT) and Ontario Special Investigations Unit (SIU) announcement of yet further review of the April 2020 incident at the Onslow Fire Hall.
“This re-opening of a completed, conclusive civilian oversight investigation is questionable and, we believe, politically motivated. As the labour relations representative for RCMP Members involved, including about 1,000 Members in Nova Scotia, we will be watching this review, and its outcome very carefully.
The events at the Onslow Fire Hall have been reviewed in an independent criminal investigation by SIRT, and in the extensive public inquiry completed by the Mass Casualty Commission (MCC). Without ignoring the impact of the incident on the members of the Onslow community, their dissatisfaction with the outcomes of these processes does not justify this abuse of the SIRT mandate and the public inquiry process. Our Members have been through enough. After the trauma of responding to the mass casualty event, they voluntarily and openly participated in the public inquiry process, at significant personal expense. To consider evidence collected in the context of a public inquiry as “new information” for the purposes of a criminal investigation is prohibited by law because it is unfair, undermines the purpose of a public inquiry, and offends Charter principles.
The SIRT report released on February 26, 2021, cleared our Members of any criminal responsibility. It found that “Based on everything the subject Members had seen and heard since coming on duty and what they had just observed, they had reasonable grounds to believe that [the individual matching the killer’s description] was the killer and someone who would continue his killing rampage. They discharged their weapons in order to prevent further deaths or serious injuries. … Accordingly, no criminal offense was committed, and no charges are warranted against either officer.”
The matter should end here. While the MCC report offered constructive criticism of SIRT’s processes and recommendations for the agency’s future learning, it did not recommend the reopening of this particular investigation into our Members.
As the Commissioners noted in the final MCC report, no one can undo the perpetrator’s actions. The ripple effect of this unprecedented event created profound grief, disruption, and destabilization that cannot be erased. In moving forward, we must consider the broader root causes of violence and how it can be prevented, and how we can all help improve community safety and well-being in the future.
We stand by our Members and remain confident their documented appropriate and brave response that day will stand up to further review and be deemed appropriate in all circumstances. Cst. Terry Brown and Cst. Dave Melanson are two examples of the heroism demonstrated by the Members of the RCMP on April 18 and 19, 2020.
While others sheltered or hid, our Members relentlessly pursued and sought out the active threat. They actively faced danger to protect others over themselves even after a fellow Member was tragically killed and another injured. And, ultimately, they eliminated the threat.
The focus now should be on healing and improving community safety moving forward rather than reliving and spotlighting past events repeatedly in the public realm.
Our thoughts are with our Members and their families, all survivors of this tragedy.”
About the National Police Federation:
The National Police Federation (NPF) represents ~20,000 RCMP Members serving across Canada and internationally. We are the largest police union in Canada. The NPF is focused on improving public safety for all Canadians, including our Members by advocating for much-needed investment in the public safety continuum. This includes investments in police resourcing and modern equipment, as well as social programs including health, addiction, and housing supports to enhance safety and livability in the many communities we serve, large and small, across Canada.
For more information: https://npf-fpn.com/
Coordinator, Media Relations