Media consortium seeking search warrants from Nova Scotia mass shooting

Media consortium seeking search warrants from Nova Scotia mass shooting

As of Monday, four warrants have been executed

HALIFAX — A provincial court judge says she’ll push to hold hearings as quickly as possible on the public release of search warrants from the investigation into the recent mass shooting in Nova Scotia.

Judge Laurel Halfpenny MacQuarrie says she’s concerned courts will become very busy in early summer after pandemic restrictions are relaxed, and the justice system currently has more time to deal with the media application.

In a conference call Monday morning, MacQuarrie told Crown prosecutors and a lawyer representing a media consortium that she’s expecting the parties to provide their positions on the release of the search warrants by next Monday morning.

She granted a one-week delay in proceedings after federal Crowns representing the Canada Border Services Agency said they hadn’t had time to review the warrants.

Lawyer David Coles, representing journalists from a variety of news organizations including The Canadian Press, says he’s hoping the provincial and federal Crowns can provide unredacted portions of the search warrants by next week.

However, provincial Crown Mark Heerema says prosecutors are unlikely to provide any portions of the documents by next week, and he will be seeking dates for further court hearings.

As of Monday, four warrants have been executed and resulted in materials being seized after a gunman went on a rampage through five Nova Scotia communities on April 18 and 19, killing 22 people.

The gunman was shot and killed by police in Enfield, N.S., but investigators are still looking into how he obtained his weapons and whether he had any assistance in creating a replica RCMP vehicle or acquiring a police uniform.

Two production orders have been executed but police haven’t yet indicated if evidence was seized.

There is one more warrant open for execution until midnight Monday.

Heerema noted the investigation is in its early stages, and more warrants may be issued in the future.

However, the judge noted she wasn’t prepared at this stage to include any future warrants in her decision.

Halfpenny MacQuarrie also said she would shift the next hearings from Truro to Port Hawkesbury, N.S., where larger facilities allow for physical distancing if lawyers and others attend.

The key legal principles on when search warrants are released were formed 28 years ago in Canada with a landmark Supreme Court of Canada decision, in a case launched by investigative reporter Linden MacIntyre in 1982.

The highest court ruled that once a search warrant is carried out, the warrant and supporting documents must be made public, but that an exception could be made to protect innocent parties if the search didn’t yield evidence.

It was based largely on the principle that the business of the courts should be made public, with few exceptions.

In his ruling, Justice Brian Dickson wrote, “the rule should be one of public accessibility and concomitant judicial accountability,” and public access should only be restricted “to protect social values,” including the right of innocent parties not to become caught up in police inquiries.

In a later 2005 decision, Supreme Court of Canada Justice Morris Fish further commented on search warrants, stating the administration of justice “thrives on exposure to light and withers under a cloud of secrecy.”

Nova Scotia

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Lacombe is looking at its options for reclaiming sewage lagoons that are no longer needed. Vesta Energy Ltd. has signed a deal to use three lagoons to store water for fracking.
Map from City of Lacombe
Energy company to use former Lacombe sewage lagoons to store fracking water

Vesta Energy Ltd. will pay Lacombe more than $100,000 a year in 20-year deal

TRAFFICKING ARRESTS - ALERT CEO Chad Coles and Red Deer RCMP Superintendent Ken Foster recently held a press conference after a year long drug-trafficking investigation. Todd Colin Vaughan/Red Deer Express
Red Deer drug trafficker sentenced to 4 1/2 years

Updated: Keegan Robinson pleaded guilty previously to trafficking cocaine

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney attends a news conference in Calgary on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Kenney says Alberta has strong legal argument if Keystone project killed in U.S.

CALGARY — Premier Jason Kenney says Alberta has a strong legal basis… Continue reading

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney speaks at a news conference in Calgary on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020. An Alberta legislature member is signalling he has no plans to give up his seat after Kenney booted him from the United Conservative caucus for failing to represent constituents. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Alberta to run out of COVID-19 vaccine supply: Kenney

Alberta Health Services has administered nearly 90,000 doses to eligible health-care workers… Continue reading

Don't Look Down Tattoo hosted a flash tattoo event on Friday afternoon. (Twila Amato - Black Press Media)
Albertans can make hair and tattoo appointments today as some COVID restrictions ease

EDMONTON — Albertans will be able to visit hair salons and tattoo… Continue reading

Dwayne Buckle, 40 of Red Deer finished a 1,638-kilometre walk, in honour of his family. The 12-week, 82 day-journey wrapped up in Port Hardy, B.C. on Monday. Facebook photo
Red Deer man completes 1,638 km hike for cancer research

Dwayne Buckle, a Red Deer firefighter returned home Friday after his 12-week journey

Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet holds a press conference on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on December 10, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Blanchet’s choice to block critics on Twitter limits free speech: experts

OTTAWA — Dozens of people say Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet has… Continue reading

Jimmy Melvin Jr. is escorted from Nova Scotia provincial court in Halifax on Monday, July 20, 2015. One of the most notorious crime figures in Nova Scotia has been declared a dangerous offender. Melvin Jr. was handed an indeterminate sentence today in Nova Scotia Supreme Court. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
‘Real and present danger’: Nova Scotia crime figure deemed dangerous offender

HALIFAX — One of the most notorious crime figures in Nova Scotia… Continue reading

In this April 13, 2020, photo provided by TC Energy, construction contractors for TC Energy are seen installing a section of the Keystone XL crude oil pipeline at the U.S.-Canada border north of Glasgow, Mont. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-TC Energy via AP
An outright ‘No’: Biden’s Day 1 Keystone XL kibosh bodes ill for Canada-U.S. ties

WASHINGTON — North America’s perennial pipeline debate erupted anew Monday as president-elect… Continue reading

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and Quebec Premier Francois Legault leave a press conference in Ottawa on Friday, Sept. 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Provinces delaying or revisiting vaccine programs as Pfizer delays dose deliveries

OTTAWA — At least three provinces are now temporarily delaying or pausing… Continue reading

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney attends a news conference in Calgary on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Kenney says killing Keystone sets risky precedent, puts Alberta on hook for US$1B

EDMONTON — Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says cancelling the Keystone XL expansion… Continue reading

Treena Mielke
Family: Enjoying this year’s postcard-perfect winter

COVID is still here complete with all the spinoffs each and everyone… Continue reading

In this undated photo issued by the University of Oxford, a volunteer is administered the coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, in Oxford, England. Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca said Monday Nov. 23, 2020, that late-stage trials showed its coronavirus vaccine was up to 90% effective, giving public health officials hope they may soon have access to a vaccine that is cheaper and easier to distribute than some of its rivals. (University of Oxford / John Cairns)
Canadians who have had COVID-19 should still get the vaccine, experts say

Studies have suggested previous COVID-19 infections may result in promising levels of… Continue reading

Pipes intended for the Keystone XL project are show in a yard in Gascoyne, N.D., on Wednesday April 22, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Alex Panetta
TC Energy plans net zero emissions for Keystone XL even as project’s future in doubt

CALGARY — Cancelling TC Energy Corp.’s Keystone XL pipeline expansion project would… Continue reading

Most Read