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Mass Casualty Commission Update: Preeminent Experts Secured to Lead the Mass Casualty Commission Teams

·11 min read

Mass Casualty Commission Update: Preeminent Experts Secured to Lead the Mass Casualty Commission Teams

Mass Casualty Commission Update: Preeminent Experts Secured to Lead the Mass Casualty Commission Teams

Canada NewsWire

HALIFAX, NS, Jan. 21, 2021

HALIFAX, NS, Jan. 21, 2021 /CNW/ - The Joint Federal/Provincial Inquiry into the April 2020 Nova Scotia Mass Casualty (the "Mass Casualty Commission") appoints the people who will lead the teams supporting its work. This is a carefully selected group of experienced and dedicated individuals who are among the most highly regarded in the country in their respective fields.

They include a former Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada from Nova Scotia; a Deputy Chief of Police of Canada's largest city, who is originally from Nova Scotia; the country's foremost scholar in complex criminal matters related to violence against women; and leaders in human rights and mental health and wellness.

The roles confirmed include: Commission Counsel Director, Investigations Director, Executive Director/Chief Administrative Officer, Policy and Research Director, Community Liaison Director, and Mental Health Director.

This group is tasked with leading teams that deliver on the Mass Casualty Commission mandate, including to investigate and gather evidence; conduct meetings, hearings, roundtables and research; and helping with the groundwork that will inform development of the recommendations for the Report. Currently, the Directors are working with the Commissioners to identify the people, resources, and processes required to undertake this important work. They are also focused on making sure those impacted by the mass casualty have access to the mental health and wellness supports they require throughout the Commission process.

The Mass Casualty Commission is an independent public inquiry created to examine the April 18-19, 2020 events in Nova Scotia and to provide meaningful recommendations to help protect Canadians in the future. The Commission must submit an interim report (May 2022) and a final report (November 2022) containing its findings and recommendations.

Mass Casualty Commission Directors:
Thomas Cromwell, Commission Counsel Director, Mass Casualty Commission
Dr. Emma Cunliffe, Research and Policy Director, Mass Casualty Commission
Christine Hanson, Executive Director and Chief Administrative Officer, Mass Casualty Commission
Barbara McLean (M.O.M.), Investigations Director, Mass Casualty Commission
Mary Pyche, Mental Health Director, Mass Casualty Commission
Maureen Wheller, Community Liaison Director, Mass Casualty Commission

Bios:

Thomas Cromwell, Commission Counsel Director, Mass Casualty Commission The Honourable Thomas Cromwell, Companion of the Order of Canada, served as Executive Legal Officer to then-Chief Justice Antonio Lamer between 1992 and 1995, before going on to serve in the judiciary himself. In 1997, he was appointed by former Prime Minister Jean Chretien directly to the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal where he served until 2008. In 2008, Justice Cromwell was elevated to the Supreme Court of Canada as the Atlantic representative by former Prime Minister Stephen Harper. He sat on the Supreme Court until 2016, where he played a significant and active role on the bench, championing access to justice in civil courts. From 2008 until 2018, he chaired the Chief Justice of Canada's Action Committee on Access to Justice in Civil and Family Matters. He is currently senior counsel at Borden Ladner Gervais LLP and an active advisor and mediator in the public and private sectors.

Justice Cromwell earned degrees in Music and in Law from Queens University, an ARCT Diploma from the Royal Conservatory of Music, and a Bachelor of Civil Law from Oxford University. While not appearing before the Commission, he will be supervising and directing the work of the counsel team.

Dr. Emma Cunliffe, Research and Policy Director, Mass Casualty Commission
Dr. Emma Cunliffe is a professor at the Allard School of Law at the University of British Columbia and a Visiting Professor at the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University. Her research focuses on the investigation and fact-finding process in complex criminal matters, particularly those regarding violence against women and Indigenous people. Dr. Cunliffe is also a member of the Evidence Based Forensics Initiative, a multi-disciplinary group of scholars and practitioners who are interested in improving the reliability and effectiveness of forensic science and medicine. She is an award-winning teacher and researcher.

Dr. Cunliffe is a co-author of well-regarded casebooks in criminal law and evidence, and has authored, edited and co-edited three other books about the legal system. Her research on expert evidence and factual reasoning is published in leading Canadian and international law journals and has also informed law reform measures, judicial education, and government reports.

Christine Hanson, Executive Director and Chief Administrative Officer, Mass Casualty Commission
Christine Hanson has joined the Mass Casualty Commission from her role as the Director and CEO of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission. She was appointed Chair of the Canadian Association of Statutory Human Rights Agencies in 2019. Prior to returning to Nova Scotia, Christine worked as an international lawyer and diplomat in a variety of roles with Global Affairs Canada. She was a senior diplomat at the Canadian Embassy in Washington D.C. where she worked in the Office of the Ambassador and subsequently led the team managing Canada's relationship with the US Congress. Christine also served at Canada's Mission to the United Nations in New York. She completed a graduate degree in international law from Georgetown University in Washington. She also earned degrees in law, public administration and political science from Dalhousie University in Halifax. Christine was an International Women's Forum Global Leadership Foundation Fellow in 2015-2016.

Barbara McLean (M.O.M.), Investigations Director, Mass Casualty Commission
As Deputy Chief, Toronto Police Service, Barbara McLean is a senior police leader with over 31 years of experience with the Toronto Police Service. She has extensive experience and a proven track record in policing, public safety, community engagement, policy development, strategic planning, fiscal accountability, and leadership development. These skills are a result of applied experience and leadership in areas including front-line policing, marine policing, criminal investigation, human resources, training and development, incident command, and through her commitment to lifelong learning and community involvement. Originally from Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Barbara holds a Bachelor of Business Administration (St. Francis Xavier University), a Master of Business Administration (York University), a Master of Industrial Relations and Human Resources (University of Toronto), and Certificates in Criminology (University of Toronto) and Teaching Effectiveness (Humber College). She is also a Certified Municipal Manager - Level 3 Police Executive.

Mary Pyche, Mental Health Director, Mass Casualty Commission
Mary has worked in the field of Mental Health and Addictions for more than thirty ‎years and her passion remains for this work. She obtained a Master of Social Work Degree and since 2009 has taught part-time at the Dalhousie School of Social Work. Mary has worked as an Addictions Clinical Therapist and held leadership roles in Mental Health and Addictions for Nova Scotia Health, Central Zone, including Crisis and Psychiatric Emergency Services, Mental Health Acute Care and Addictions Intensive Treatment Services. She has worked specifically in Mental Health Crisis Response for sixteen years. During this time, she has also worked as a co-lead with psychiatry for the Nova Scotia Health Provincial Task Force on Suicide Risk Assessment and Intervention. Most recently, she has been the Program Leader and Site Lead at the East Coast Forensic Hospital in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia and the Provincial Lead for Mental Health and Addiction Bed Management Program of Care Access and Flow. In 2006 Mary and a colleague developed and implemented the Nova Scotia Health 24/7 Mental Health Mobile Crisis Team. This team is a partnered co-response model of mental health and policing. In 2012 Mary worked with the Nova Scotia Department of Health to expand that service to the Provincial Crisis Service it is today.

Maureen Wheller, Community Liaison Director, Mass Casualty Commission
With over 13 years of experience in developing and leading public engagement strategies working in Mental Health and Addictions communications, Maureen Wheller brings unique insight into the complexities of the topic and ways to build understanding. She builds relationships with community-based organizations, public and private sector partners, individuals, families, and healthcare providers to promote understanding through dialogue and encourages hope for recovery. Maureen co-chaired Nova Scotia Health's Mental Health and Addictions Program's first Public Advisory Group (PAG) with a community support group leader, creating the foundation for the four PAGs now covering the province. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Saint Mary's University and worked for the former Children's Aid Society in Halifax. As VP of Marketing for Cochran Entertainment Inc., she developed and licensed award-winning children, family, and documentary programming and products worldwide.

Quotes:

"This Commission is one of the most important undertakings in recent Nova Scotia history. This province is where I spent most of my legal career and where I learned most of what I know about the law and doing justice. I want to do anything I can to put what I've learned in the service of the Commission and the people it serves."

"My team is responsible for presenting evidence to the Commission that will permit the Commissioners to fulfil their mandate and the many people who have been affected by this mass casualty to get the most complete and accurate answers to their questions. The most important thing for me is that we do that to the very best of our ability and with the highest standards of fairness and thoroughness."

Thomas Cromwell, Commission Counsel Director, Mass Casualty Commission

"I am honoured and humbled to be a member of the team supporting the Mass Casualty Commission. I bring my 31 years of experience with the Toronto Police Service to this role. As a proud Nova Scotian, the events of April 2020 have had a great impact on me. So, when I was asked, I did not hesitate to say yes. In a way, I feel like I am being called home to help the Commission help the people of Nova Scotia."

"Understandably, people have questions. As Investigations Director, my focus will be on helping to determine what happened so that findings can be communicated in a way that provides answers to Nova Scotians. It's important to me that this is done in a way that is sensitive to those most affected and honours the lives that were taken during this mass casualty. I hope the inquiry and its findings can help people move toward healing and at the same time, improve public safety."

Barbara McLean, Investigations Director, Mass Casualty Commission

"Our research and policy work will help the Commissioners to formulate recommendations that could help to prevent future events of this kind. This work will help us to understand the causes and context of the events of 18 and 19 April 2020 and point towards how we might foster safe and resilient communities. It will also inform overall policy development and how to better support victims and communities."

"My focus is to support the Commissioners by ensuring that they have access to the best research and policy ideas. This will include commissioning research and policy papers, holding roundtables and inviting those who have an interest in the Mass Casualty Commission's work to share their ideas and insights with us."

Dr. Emma Cunliffe, Research and Policy Director, Mass Casualty Commission

"What's critically important to this inquiry is ensuring excellent teamwork. This is a highly complex project coming together under difficult circumstances. We are going to have to work closely as a team and really support each other."

"Our goal is for the Commission to be able to provide meaningful recommendations that are fully implemented so that something like this never happens again and throughout the process, provide the best support possible to survivors and victims of these traumatic events."

Christine Hanson, Executive Director and Chief Administrative Officer, Mass Casualty Commission

"It is important to me that this Inquiry has identified attention to Mental Health as an integral part of its overall framework. This ensures we will pay attention to the whole person as the well-being of all of us includes both our physical and mental health and it matters that this is integrated into the framework."

"My focus will be collaborating with all areas of the Inquiry Team to ensure we are intentional in our efforts to minimize and mitigate any additional harms and to apply an understanding of and responsiveness to the potential impacts of trauma."

Mary Pyche, Mental Health Director, Mass Casualty Commission

"It is an honour to be part of the work of the Mass Casualty Commission. As Community Liaison Director, my role is to build consistent, respectful, easily accessible methods to communicate between the Commissioners and the victims, families of the victims, their supports, and communities. Access to information will be fair and equitable and will respond to what is needed. My work will include close collaboration with other Commission directors to ensure information and understanding flow to and from those most affected."

Maureen Wheller, Community Liaison Director, Mass Casualty Commission

Background:

About the Mass Casualty Commission: The Joint Federal/Provincial Commission into the April 2020 Nova Scotia Mass Casualty (the "Mass Casualty Commission") is an independent public inquiry created to examine the April 18-19, 2020 mass casualty in Nova Scotia and to provide meaningful recommendations to help protect Canadians in the future. For more Information, see https://masscasualtycommission.ca/

SOURCE Mass Casualty Commission