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Commissions of Inquiry

Co-authored by the former Commissioner of the Public Inquiry into Pediatric Forensic Pathology, this book explores the powers and procedures of federal and provincial Commissions of Inquiry and their impact on our daily lives.
Publication Language: English
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$115.00
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ISBN/ISSN: 9780433503118

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Comprehensive and informative
As noted in the preface to this volume, “Commissions of inquiry have been a part of the Canadian experience since before Confederation.” Public inquiries of various kinds have profoundly affected Canada’s history and society, from Lord Durham’s Report in the 1840s to the delivery of health care in the 21st century. Commissions of Inquiry summarizes the history and evolution of Canadian inquiries and provides a detailed analysis of their current role and procedures. It emphasizes the rights and duties of inquiry participants; the variety and flexibility of public inquiries as a tool for investigation and policy-making; the exceptional powers and discretion vested in Commissioners and their staff; and the growing impact of judicial review on their work. The book casts new light on such perennial concerns as transparency, accountability, public participation in policy-making, and healing for people affected by tragic events.

The expert authors draw upon their years of experience and extensive knowledge to provide insight into the world of public inquiries. Specifically, they offer:

  • Practical information on conducting an inquiry – choosing Commissioners and counsel, researching and gathering information, and drafting the final report and recommendations
  • Significant comparative analysis, including the historical evolution of Royal Commissions and statutory inquiries in Britain, Australia and New Zealand and parallel developments in some Canadian provinces
  • A comprehensive picture of the law pertaining to Commissions of Inquiry: the constitutional framework, the principles of procedural fairness and natural justice, enabling statutes, Terms of Reference, Inquiry Rules of Practice and Procedure, and Commissioners’ rulings
  • Recent trends in information-gathering: proportionality, efficiency and cost-effectiveness
  • An up-to-date synthesis of the secondary literature on Commissions of Inquiry and related topics in public law
  • Narratives of selected inquiries, to put the legal and historical information in context

A go-to publication
Written in accessible language, with comprehensive appendices providing sample terms of reference, inquiry rules of procedure, and Commissioners’ rulings and orders, Commissions of Inquiry is an essential resource for:

  • Public servants, especially those involved in the inquiry process or tasked with implementing inquiry recommendations
  • Cabinet Ministers considering whether to appoint a public inquiry and how to craft the Terms of Reference
  • Sitting or retired judges who are asked to serve as Commissioners, and the Chief Justices who must advise on their appointments
  • Legal practitioners, whether employed by Commissions of Inquiry or representing inquiry participants
  • Policy experts engaged in Commission research
  • Private citizens called to testify at an inquiry or wishing to understand how inquiries work
  • Law students and political science students studying administrative law or public policy
  • Law libraries who want to provide a comprehensive collection of resources for their patrons

Featured authors

Table of contents

Part I An introduction to Commissions of Inquiry
Chapter 1 An overview of public inquiries
1. What is a Commission of Inquiry?
2. What does a public inquiry do?
3. The flexibility of inquiries
4. Inquisitorial vs. adversarial
5. Alternatives to public inquiries: Considerations for governments
6. The legal framework
7. A note on nomenclature

Chapter 2 Two types of inquiry
1. Introduction
2. Why the type of inquiry matters
3. The legal status of the fact-finding/policy distinction
4. The hybrid mandate: combining fact-finding and policy

Chapter 3 The history and evolution of Commissions of Inquiry
1. Origins: Royal Commissions and Parliamentary committees in Britain
2. Inquiries Acts
3. The legal and policy impact of past inquiries
4. An endangered species?

Part II The law of public inquiries
Chapter 4 Commissions of Inquiry and the Canadian constitution
1. The division of powers
2. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
3. The separation of powers

Chapter 5 Judicial review
1. Introduction
2. Jurisdiction to grant remedies against Commissions of Inquiry
3. Grounds for judicial review
4. The standard of review
5. Procedure and remedies

Chapter 6 Inquiries Acts and Terms of Reference
1. Overview
2. Typical elements in the Terms of Reference
3. Interpreting the Terms of Reference

Chapter 7 Commission rules and orders
1. The Rules of Practice and Procedure
2. Orders

Part III Getting to work
Chapter 8 The life cycle of a Commission of Inquiry
1. The discretion to initiate an inquiry
2. Crafting the Terms of Reference
3. Amending the Terms of Reference
4. Wrapping up a Commission of Inquiry
5. Implementing inquiry recommendations

Chapter 9 The Commissioner(s)
1. Choosing the Commissioner(s)
2. Judges as commissioners of inquiry

Chapter 10 Assembling the rest of the inquiry team
1. Staffing and budget
2. The unique role of Commission counsel

Part IV Participants and witnesses at a public inquiry
Chapter 11 Participating in an inquiry
1. Participants and standing
2. Different categories of standing
3. Counsel for inquiry participants and witnesses

Chapter 12 Protecting individual rights and reputations
1. Parallel proceedings
2. Providing notice to persons potentially affected by findings of misconduct
3. Consequences of a notice of potential adverse findings

Part V Answering the questions in the Terms of Reference
Chapter 13 Evidence and information: The legal framework
1. Introduction
2. The power to compel evidence
3. Enforcement powers and contempt orders
4. Admissibility of evidence
5. Privilege
6. Conclusion

Chapter 14 Research and Commissions of Inquiry
1. Introduction
2. The research team
3. The research process

Chapter 15 Gathering information inside the hearings
1. Public versus private hearings
2. Rules and procedures at inquiry hearings

Chapter 16 Gathering information outside the hearings
1. Document handling and disclosure
2. Witness interviews
3. Innovative approaches to inquiry evidence
4. Search powers

Chapter 17 Writing the final report
1. Introduction
2. Planning for the final report
3. Guiding principles for inquiry reports
4. The standard of proof for investigative findings of fact
5. Drafting the final report
6. Crafting recommendations
7. Publishing the final report

Chapter 18 Afterword

Appendices
Appendix 1 Canadian Inquiries Acts
Appendix 2 Samples terms of reference
Appendix 3 Sample inquiry rules of procedure
Appendix 4 Sample rulings and orders
Appendix 5 Selected inquiry narratives
Appendix 6 The “Salmon principles”