The Conduct of Public Inquiries

Overview

Winner of the 2011 Walter Owen Book Prize

Public inquiries have played a prominent role throughout Canadian history. Commissions of inquiry have contributed to the development of diverse public policies such as public broadcasting, universal health care, bilingualism and multi-culturalism, free trade, and employment equity. But it is in extraordinary circumstances that their unique investigative features are required: the conviction and imprisonment of innocent people; mining disasters; the murder of hundreds of Canadians through the bombing of an international flight; corruption on the part of government officials; or impropriety on the part of a former prime minister.

This book is the first comprehensive, integrated, and thorough exposition of the public inquiry as a governmental, legal and social institution. It examines the legal framework, the role of the commissioner and legal counsel, the rights and obligations of individuals who may be affected and its relationship to government, the media and the public. It analyzes the entire process from its inception through every stage to and after the final report.

Guidance and advice are provided at every step with graphic illustrations from past inquiries, such as the conduct of commissioners, ranging from exemplary to egotistical and arrogant. Difficult problems are analyzed such as the conflicting role of commission counsel, who must appear to be impartial but may have to engage in aggressive cross-examination. Practical solutions to such problems are also proposed.

Reviews

“. . . launching a commission of inquiry is a risky process—a bit like sending a ship out to sea. You don’t know where it will go, how long it will take, how much it will cost or what it will bring back. And trying to relocate a ship lost at sea and bring it back to port can be a costly experience (especially if the captain is not in a hurry to come home).”

N IPAC, Commissions of Inquiry in Canada: Lessons Learned from Recent Experience, Peter Larson Associates, Quoted at page 130

Table of Contents

Foreword
Preface
Table of Authorizing Statutes
Table of Past Commissions of Inquiry
Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: Nature and Purpose of Commissions of Inquiry
Chapter 3: Some Canadian Commissions of Inquiry
Chapter 4: Establishing a Commission of Inquiry
Chapter 5: Role of the Commissioner
Chapter 6: Role of Counsel
Chapter 7: The Legal Framework
Chapter 8: The Conduct of Hearings
Chapter 9: Final Report
Chapter 10: Policy/Advisory Commissions
Table of Cases
Index

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