Officials released the final report on the 2020 Nova Scotia mass shooting Thursday, revealing systemic issues within the RCMP amid calls for widespread change.
"The future of the RCMP and provincial policing requires focused re-evaluation," said the report, Turning the Tide Together. "We need to rethink the role of the police in a wider ecosystem of public safety."
The inquiry into the tragedy includes 76 days of public hearings, more than 7,000 exhibits and source materials, and 230 witnesses.
The commission's final report included 130 recommendations, with 75 about policing.
The 3,000-page report touched on the police response to the mass casualty incident, the killer's access to firearms, the role of gender-based violence and reinventing the national alert system after numerous RCMP failures to prevent, respond, and react in the aftermath of the tragedy.
It made a blunt call to re-examine the role of the RCMP in maintaining community safety moving forward, calling on the federal minister of public safety to commission an in-depth, external and independent review of the RCMP.
The review should "examine the RCMP's approach to contract to police and work with contract partners, and its approach to community relations."
The report highlighted the perpetrator's violence and missed opportunities by police to intervene in the years before the mass casualty, as well as critical gaps and errors in the RCMP response to the mass shooting.
The Mass Casualty Commissioners recommended "modernizing" police by ending the RCMP's current training model by 2032 and establishing a three-year degree-based model of police education for all police services nationwide.
The report also blames the police for poor communication with the public during and in the aftermath of the mass casualty.
From April 18-19, 2020, a gunman — dressed like an RCMP officer and driving a replica RCMP vehicle — killed 22 people spanning over 13 hours across three Nova Scotia counties, becoming the deadliest mass shooting in modern Canadian history.
Since the tragedy, the national police force has provided updates exclusively through Twitter.
"This failure to consider issuing an emergency broadcast reflects a systemic failure…over several years, to recognize the utility of Alert Ready for its emergency public communications," said the report.
The Nova Scotia RCMP tweeted at 11:32 p.m. on April 18 that officers responded to a "firearms complaint." At the time, an active shooter gunned down multiple people in Portapique, N.S. —information that only became public at 8 a.m. the following day.
The gunman's reign of terror ended on April 19 when two RCMP officers fatally shot the perpetrator at a gas station in Enfield, north of Halifax.
The report noted "red flags" concerning the shooter's violent behaviour and "missed opportunities" to prevent further violence.
"On several occasions, individuals reported him to the police and other authorities," adding that "only one report resulted in a criminal charge — it was for assaulting a teenage boy," according to the report.
"The perpetrator also threatened to commit violence using firearms against his parents in 2010 and against the police in 2011. Both these threats were reported to the police."
Neighbours also reported the shooter's possession of illegal firearms and repeat abuse towards his common-law spouse, Lisa Banfield, to police. The report states that the abuse escalated in the years following 2013.
The Mass Casualty Commission recommended that Public Safety Canada and the federal public safety minister establish "clear priorities" for the RCMP and potentially reassign select responsibilities to other agencies, "including, potentially, to new policing agencies."
"This may entail a reconfiguration of policing in Canada and a new approach to federal financial support for provincial and municipal policing services," it said.
The report identified a "long history of efforts" to reform the RCMP's contract policing services model, but they have "largely failed to resolve long-standing criticisms."