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Commissions of Inquiry

Commissions of Inquiry

Praise or reappraise?

Edited by Allan Manson and David Mullan

Commissions of inquiry have had a significant role in the development of public policy in Canada. Historically, Canadian governments have relied on these bodies to consider broad matters of national importance, and the recommendations from these commissions have sometimes led to profound changes in the way in which we are governed. Recently commissions have been used to examine specific events such as the deployment of troops in Somalia, or contaminated water in Walkerton, as well as broader policy issues such as the future of Canada's public health system. As instruments for both ensuring public accountability and reforming public policy, commissions of inquiry have become an ingrained part of our traditions of governance.

This timely and important volume brings together leading academics and practitioners, former commissioners, and international observers in an assessment of the role and conduct of commissions of inquiry in Canada. It provides a comprehensive source of legal doctrine in relation to commissions of inquiry and it also brings a political science perspective to the function and pathology of this kind of investigative and policy-making instrument. The discussion of specific inquiries includes both criticisms and recommendations for improvement.

The book will appeal to members of the public who want to know more about this often controversial public vehicle; journalists, political theorists, and legal scholars who have become observers, fans, or critics of inquiries; and those officials who find themselves involved in the operation of an inquiry. These authors' insights will be of particular value to those engaged in structuring and undertaking an inquiry, as well as to those individuals and agencies who find themselves within the scrutiny of a commission of inquiry.

The book has its origins in a conference held in Kingston, Ontario in 1999, sponsored by the Law Commission of Canada. The editors and the publisher gratefully acknowledge the Commission's support.


Allan Manson and David Mullan

Part One: Overview

Canadian commissions of inquiry: an insider’s perspectives
Thomas Berger

Part Two: Securing Political and Governmental Accountability through Commissions of Inquiry

Commissions of inquiry and governmental accountability: recent British experience
AW Bradley
Securing accountability through commissions of inquiry: a role for the Law Commission of Canada
Robert Centa and Patrick Macklem
David P Shugarman and Denis Lemieux
Commissions of inquiry: some thoughts from New Zealand
KJ Keith

Part Three: Developing Policy by Royal Commission

The complex relationship between inquiries and public controversy
Liora Salter
The policy inquiry: an endangered species?
John D McCamus
Challenging policy paradigms: women, royal commissions, and the public private divide
Annis May Timpson

Part Four: Who did What to Whom Inquiries

Public inquiries and the legality of blaming: truth, justice, and the Canadian way
Wayne Mackay and Moira G McQueen
Ann Derrick
Declaration of independence: examining the independence of federal public inquiries
Tamar Witelson
Interview with Mr Justice Gilles Letourneau, Somalia Commission Chair
Tamar Witelson

Part Five: The Methodology of Royal Commissions: How To Do It Effectively and the Legal Constraints

The Bernado Investigation Review
Justice Archie Campbell
Procedural, strategic, and legal constraints upon a non-statutory inquiry: a case study
Margaret Allars

Part Six: Evaluating the Effectiveness of Royal Commissions and Reforming the Processes of Royal Commissions

Public inquiries
Bryan Schwartz
Ann Chaplin


Interrogating inquiries
Roderick A Macdonald
Concluding comments
Hudson N Janisch
Lessons from Walkerton
Allan Manson and David Mullan

Published June 2003
Publisher Irwin Law (Canada)
ISBN 9781552210741
Australian RRP $99.00
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