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The Commission has engaged independent researchers and report writers to prepare Commissioned Reports to explore issues in its mandate.

What are Commissioned Reports?

An important part of the Mass Casualty Commission’s work is to explore the causes, context and circumstances giving rise to the April 2020 mass casualty in Nova Scotia. To support this work, the Commission has commissioned two kinds of reports: Technical Reports and Expert Reports.

  • Technical Reports provide factual information about matters such as the structure of policing in Nova Scotia. These reports will support the Commission’s work by providing an objective and factual account of some of the key government and policy structures that are relevant to its mandate. In selecting report writers for Technical Reports, the Commission focused on the independence and relevant experience of the report writers.
  • Expert Reports gather and analyze public policy, academic research and lessons learned from previous mass casualties. These reports will help further the Commission’s mandate by analyzing matters such as policing, emergency services responses, communications with the public and how best to support individuals and communities following a mass casualty. In selecting writers for the reports, the Commission focused on the Canadian legal criteria for expert witnesses including independence, the suitability and reliability of research methods, depth of knowledge and the necessity of a report written on the matter.

Commissioned Reports will be shared with Participants first to allow them to prepare for the Commission’s public proceedings. The reports will then be made public as part of the Commission’s proceedings.

To read published Commissioned Reports, click here.

Steps to create Commissioned Reports

Commission Expert Reports
  • 1. Engage report writers

    Report writers are engaged to write independent reports about issues in the Commission’s mandate. Topics include:

    • Police resources & decision-making
    • Public communications
    • Understanding mass casualties
    • Supporting communities after a mass casualty
    • Gender-based and intimate partner violence
    • Access to firearms
  • 2. Share with Participants

    Commissioned Reports are shared with Participants so they can prepare for public proceedings and make submissions.

  • 3. Share with public

    Commissioned Reports are shared publicly on the Commission’s website and discussed during public proceedings. Report authors and other experts may be invited to take part in public proceedings such as roundtables.

  • 4. Inform findings and recommendations

    Commissioned Reports help to inform the Commissioners’ findings and recommendations.

Phase 2 Commissioned Reports

A list of the Commissioned Reports for the Commission’s Phase 2 work (exploring the broader context and issues) is below. Additional Commissioned Reports may be prepared to respond to questions raised by Participants and to assist the Commissioners as they draft recommendations to help make communities safer.

  • The Structure of Policing in Nova Scotia

    This report explains the structure of police services in Nova Scotia. It provides a snapshot of how policing was structured and resourced to function in April 2020, including the role of the RCMP and municipal police services. The report explains the role of other government agencies such as Canada Border Services Agency and the Criminal Intelligence Service Nova Scotia. It also looks into governance and oversight, operations, resource allocation, and strategic planning, integrated policing and information sharing.

    Author: Barry MacKnight

    Read the Report: The Structure of Policing in Nova Scotia

  • Communication Interoperability and the Alert Ready System

    This report explains the Canadian Communications Interoperability Continuum and the Alert Ready system as it has been designed and implemented. Specifically, the report explains what communications interoperability means, how efforts to pursue communications interoperability are governed, and how interoperability systems are designed in Canada. In addition, the report describes Alert Ready, explain how it works, how it is governed and designed, as well as its capabilities and limitations.

    Author: Chris Davis, Cheryl McNeil & Peter Gamble

    Read the Report: Communications Interoperability and the Alert Ready System

  • Mass Shootings & Masculinity

    This report explains what constitutes a mass casualty event. It also evaluates the published research about other mass casualty events by identifying gaps within the scholarly and policy literature. The authors describe their work to establish a register of mass shootings in the United States of America and their own research on mass casualty events, including research into the relationship between masculinity and mass violence.

    Authors: Tristan Bridges and Tara Leigh Tober, UC Santa Barbara

    Read the Report: Mass Shootings and Masculinity

  • Understanding the Links between Gender-Based Violence and Mass Casualty Attacks: Private Violence and Misogyny as Public Risk
  • Police Culture: Origins, Features, and Reform

    This report describes key research conclusions about police culture and efforts to effect change to police culture. The report explains the methodology of ethnography, and set out the value of ethnography to policing research. The author supplies a definition of the phrase “police culture” and explain the key components of police culture, to the extent that these emerge from research over time. The report identifies some standard strategies used by police services to change aspects of their culture, the success and failures of these strategies, and explain what research suggests about why these strategies are successful or unsuccessful. Where possible, the report addresses attempts to influence police culture with respect to family violence, gender-based violence, and the provision of equitable policing services to racialized groups, and the success and failures of these initiatives.

    Author: Bethan Loftus, Bangor University

    Read the Report: Police Culture: Origins, Features, and Reform

  • Crime Prevention & Community Safety in Rural Communities

    This report addresses crime prevention and community safety in rural communities. The author explains the concept of urban bias in policy making, and how this concept applies to crime prevention and community safety in rural communities. The report describes how responsibility for rural crime prevention and community safety is effectively delegated to municipal and local governments and civil society and the resource implications of this allocation for those communities. Community resilience within rural communities is also considered.

    Author: Karen Foster, Dalhousie University

    Read the Report: Crime Prevention & Community Safety in Rural Communities

  • The History of Gun Control in Canada

    This report provides a legal history of firearms regulation in Canada. The report explains the strategies that have been used to address the dangers associated with firearms (in particular semi-automatic long guns) and address the debates that have played out within Canadian public policy about these strategies. This report addresses the enforcement of firearms regulation and the smuggling and illegal trafficking of firearms and associated paraphernalia. Where possible, the author identifies the strength and shortcomings of past legislative approaches and of plausible alternative approaches. Where possible, the report identifies what (kinds of) weapons have been implicated in mass casualty events in Canada, with reference to specific examples and the legislative or policy response, if any, to these events.

    Author: Blake Brown, St. Mary's University

    Read the Report: The History of Gun Control in Canada

  • Survivors and the Aftermath of the Terrorist Attack on Utøya Island, Norway

    This report describes the key research findings that emerge from the authors’ research and that of others into the psychiatric and social impacts of surviving a mass casualty on survivors and families, with a particular focus on the research and findings that emerge from the Utøya mass casualty event and its aftermath. The report describes the immediate, medium term and long term supports offered to survivors of Utøya and their families, and the gaps that the researchers’ studies have identified in those supports, identify the supports needed by survivors and families of victims of mass casualty events and the timescale on which these supports are necessary, and share insights or recommendations emerging from their research about how institutions and communities can prepare for and respond well to mass casualty events when they occur and in the medium- and long-term after such events.


    Grete Dyb, University of Oslo

    Ingebjørg Lingaas, Norwegian Center for Violence and Traumatic Stress Studies

    Dr Kristin Alve Glad

    Dr Synne Øien Stensland

    Read the Report: Survivors and the Aftermath of the Terrorist Attack on Utøya Island, Norway

  • A Systematic Review of the Research on Rural Policing

    This report provides a literature review of rural policing, addressing topics including community relationships, the nature of rural policing, and challenges in rural policing including with respect to culture and local/centralization dynamics.

    Author: Dr. Anna Souhami, University of Edinburgh

    Read the ReportA Systematic Review of the Research on Rural Policing

  • Supporting Survivors and Communities after Mass Shootings

    This report addresses the needs of survivors and communities in the wake of mass casualty events. The report draws from the author’s empirical research with survivors and communities to provide recommendations about how survivors’ and communities’ needs should be understood, how these needs may change over time, and how they may change with the context of a given event and the community in which it occurs. The report also explains how needs for support may be distributed within a community beyond the circle of those most directly affected by the events.

    Author: Jaclyn Schildkraut, SUNY Oswego

    Read the Report: Supporting Survivors and Communities after Mass Shootings

  • Police And First-Responder Decision Making During Mass Casualty Events

    The report considers police and first responder decision-making during mass casualty events. This report describes the author’s research on decision-making in conditions of threat and uncertainty, and draws on other literature where relevant. It also addresses the challenges of preparing police and first responders for mass casualty events, community and policing resources that will be drawn upon within crisis response, and the role played by civilians within critical incident response. The author draws on lessons learned from events that have parallels to those being considered by the Mass Casualty Commission, for example, the Utøya massacre of 2011 and the subsequent review of police responses to those events.

    Author: Bjørn Ivar Kruke, University of Stavanger

    Read the Report: Police And First-Responder Decision Making During Mass Casualty Events

  • Exercising Judgment: Understanding Police Discretion in Canada

    This report provides a critical examination of the scholarly literature on the nature of police discretion, focusing on how the working culture and organization of law enforcement agencies fundamentally structures the exercise of police discretion and associated powers, such as the powers of arrest, detention, and use of force. In particular, this report highlights some of the key barriers to making police discretion more transparent, information sharing more routine, and oversight more effective. The report attends to comparative examples from non-Canadian jurisdictions to identify some best practices and promising approaches to ensuring that police services are subject to meaningful legal oversight and accountable to the diverse communities they serve.

    Author: Benjamin Goold, University of British Columbia, Allard School of Law

    Read the Report: Exercising Judgment: Understanding Police Discretion in Canada

  • Critical Incident Decision Making: Challenges of Managing Unique and High-Consequence Events

    This report provides a psychological review of critical incident decision-making by emergency personnel. The report considers the personal attributes that support sound decision-making, the role of training, the impact of stress on decision-making, and common cognitive processes during critical incident response. The report draws on analogous examples of critical incident decision-making.

    Author: Laurence Alison, University of Liverpool and Neil Shortland, University of Massachusetts Lowell

    Read the Report: Critical Incident Decision Making: Challenges of Managing Unique and High-Consequence Events

  • Understanding Violence in Relationships

    This report addresses the phenomena of intimate partner violence, gender-based violence, family violence and coercive control. The authors define these phenomena and explain what is known from empirical studies of how these phenomena manifest in Canada and, to the extent possible, specifically in Nova Scotia. The report addresses research regarding police perceptions of and responses to these phenomena, identifies barriers to reporting these harms and barriers to other non-state responses such as leaving relationships.

    Authors: Carmen Gill and Mary Aspinall, University of New Brunswick

    Read the Report: Understanding Violence in Relationships

  • Interagency Communication, Collaboration, and Interoperability within Police Services and Between Police Services and Other Emergency Services

    The report addresses inter-agency communications, interoperability, and cooperation among police services, and between police and other emergency services. The report identifies mechanisms and structural measures that can be put in place to mitigate against failures in inter-agency coordination, and points to case studies and best practices where these exist. This report refers to relevant research literature, and attends particularly to Canadian case studies and those in peer jurisdictions.

    Author: Curt Taylor Griffiths, Simon Fraser University

    Read the Report: Interagency Communication, Collaboration, and Interoperability within Police Services and between Police Services and Other Emergency Services

  • Rigorous Forensic Psychological Assessment Practices

    This report defines the field of forensic psychological assessment and draws upon decades of research and scholarship from and about fundamental basic science and forensic science, as well as clinical and forensic psychology, to lay out eight best practices that may be used by law enforcement agencies and courts to evaluate the rigor and value of a psychological evaluation. We review the scientific and evidence basis for techniques used by psychological evaluators, and describe best practices for and limitations of psychological assessments in a manner that is generalizable to various kinds of psychological assessments, including psychological autopsies and behavioral profiling as used by law enforcement agencies. Although both psychological autopsies and behavioural profiling depart somewhat from typical forensic psychological practice, both can be considered forms of forensic psychological assessment, and as such we opine that the norms, values, and expectations for best practice in forensic psychological assessment should apply to these techniques. This report will aid the Commission in assessing the extent to which the "Psychological Autopsy" and "Behavioural Profiles" produced with respect to the perpetrator of the April 2020 mass casualty that took place in Nova Scotia reflects evidence-based techniques and best practices in forensic psychology.

    Authors: Kristy Martire, University of New South Wales and Tess Neal, Arizona State University

    Read the Report: Rigorous Forensic Psychological Assessment Practices Part IRigorous Forensic Psychological Assessment Practices Part II 

  • Core Definitions of Canadian Mass Casualty Events and Research on the Background Characteristics and Behaviours of Lone-Actor Public Mass Murderers

    This report defines mass casualty events and surveys the scholarship and policy work that has been completed in Canada with respect to mass casualty events. It identifies the key lessons that can be drawn from scholarly studies about mass casualty events in Canada and some of the key gaps within the policy and scholarly attention. It also addresses the social context of perpetrators of mass violence and debates about “lone-actor” events.


    David Hofmann, University of New Brunswick

    Lorne Dawson, University of Waterloo

    Willa Greythorn, University of New Brunswick

    Read the ReportCore Definitions of Canadian Mass Casualty Events and Research on the Background Characteristics and Behaviours of Lone-Actor Public Mass Murderers

  • Culture in Police Organizations: Definitions, Research and Challenges

    Dr. Campeau draws on policing studies literature but also on the sociology of culture and organizational culture to define and understand culture, and specifically police culture. Her core argument is that culture is a resource or repertoire of tools that police can draw on in a given situation, rather than being a set list of beliefs or values that fully determine how a given police officer will act in a given moment. She also explores the differences between the cultural resources drawn upon front line members and those used by police officers who serve in management roles. Finally, Dr. Campeau draws on her own ethnographic research with police officers in Ontario to describe how this understanding of police culture as a resource aids interpretation and understanding of police work.

    Author: Holly Campeau, University of Alberta

    Read the Report: Culture in Police Organizations: Definitions, research and challenges 

Phase 3 Commissioned Reports

Below is a list of Commissioned Reports for Phase 3 on the basis of the Commission’s present understanding of the facts and issues emerging from the investigation so far. Additional phase 3 reports may be added if the Commission identifies a need for them on the basis of its continuing work in phase 2, or on the basis of Participant submissions.

  • When We Know Something is Wrong: Secondary and Tertiary Intervention to Address Abuse Perpetration

    This report reviews research on IPV interventions and presents a vision for a comprehensive system of specialized interventions for IPV perpetrators that prompts involvement as early as possible, through as many doors as possible, in a “web of accountability” for keeping perpetrators in view while working to promote victim safety and perpetrator change. Scott's report is divided into four sections. To help guide readers, she begins by describing the overall vision for this web of accountability, which she then describes in more detail with relevant research evidence.

    Author: Katreena Scott, University of Western Ontario, Faculty of Education

    Read the Report: When We Know Something is Wrong: Secondary and Tertiary Intervention to Address Abuse Perpetration

  • Conceptions of Masculinity and Violence Towards a Healthier Evolution of Men and Boys

    This report focuses on concepts of masculinity, the harmful effects of traditional understandings of masculinity, and options for building healthier concepts of masculinity. The authors identify the ways in which traditional masculinity may contribute to problems with men and boys’ mental health and their understanding of gender roles and gender-based conflict. The report explores the connection between violence and masculinity, including gender-based and intimate-partner violence, bullying and intimidation, and mass shootings. The authors also examine the barriers men often face in seeking help for physical and mental illness and the effects of trauma through traditional therapeutic approaches. Finally, the report identifies and evaluates other options for treatment and interventions which are aimed at helping men building healthier expressions of masculinity.

    Authors: Brian Braganza & Nick Cardone, Free Range Therapy

    Read the Report: Conceptions of Masculinity and Violence Towards a Healthier Evolution of Men and Boys

  • Community-Engaged Rural Policing: The Case for Reform and Innovation in Rural RCMP Policing

    This report explores contemporary organizational and operational attempts at police reform and change in the RCMP, and barriers to implementing reform, with a focus on the response and implementation of community-based policing services at the local municipal and rural level. The report also identifies relevant community-based and community engaged models and strategies for delivering policing and public safety services at the local level. The paper concludes by offering some alternative policing models for responsive and engaged local police services in Nova Scotia.


    Chris Murphy, Dalhousie University

    Cal Corley, Chief Executive Officer Community Safety Knowledge Alliance Inc., former Assistant Commissioner, RCMP and former Director General, Canadian Police College

    Read the Report: Community-Engaged Rural Policing: The Case for Reform and Innovation in Rural RCMP Policing

  • The Health and Safety of Survival Sex Workers in Halifax and Truro, Nova Scotia

    This report investigates the health and safety of survival sex workers in the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) and in rural areas of the province by examining 1) how sex workers experience community safety in Nova Scotia; 2) how they ensure their own safety; and 3) their relations with community agencies such as the police, the health care system, and other community service providers. Our investigation also looks at barriers to reporting victimization, including distrust of the provincial health care system and distrust of the police. Throughout, this report centres and addresses the experiences of sex workers who are marginalized due to Indigeneity, racialization, because they are 2SLGBTQ+ (or engage in sexual activity with 2SLGBTQ+), or for other reasons.

    Author: Gayle MacDonald and Meredith Ralston, Mount Saint Vincent University

    Read the ReportThe Health and Safety of Survival Sex Workers in Halifax and Truro, Nova Scotia

  • Firearm Regulation in Australia: Insights from International Experience and Research

    This report addresses the Australian approach to firearms regulation including the context of the Port Arthur massacre and public policy responses to it, the form that the regulation took and how its successes and failures have been (and should be) assessed with the benefit of 20+ years of experience. The authors also consider the purposes of firearms regulation, the means that best achieve those purposes, and the measures of success that are most appropriate to firearms regulation.

    Authors: Joel Negin, Philip Alpers & Rebecca Peters, University of Sidney

    Read the Report: Firearm regulation in Australia: Insights from international experience and research

Content Warning: The following video contains scenes including the discharging of firearms causing death. There is a “quick exit” button at the top of the website if you need it, and Wellness Supports are also listed.

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