Commissions of Inquiry

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Publication Date



Commission, Government, Policy, Analysis, Consensus, Concern, Public Opinion


Commissions of inquiry have been popular mechanisms with Canadian governments. Despite a widespread view that they are used principally to delay action while removing embarrassment from the immediate vicinity of governments, it is a fact that commissions of inquiry have repeatedly - and often highly successfully - served as vehicles for analyzing policy, for evaluating outworn or failed policy, for identifying a consensus about policy and for building support for new policy directions. They have brought facts to light both about specific incidents and about matters of policy concern; facts as diverse as what actually happened at a given time and place and the real makeup of public opinion on the subject matter of the inquiry. The roster of inquiries that have served in these capacities is long and impressive.


Book is referenced in the following Supreme Court of Canada cases:

Phillips v Nova Scotia (Commission of Inquiry into the Westray Mine Tragedy), [1995] 2 SCR 97. R v S (RJ), [1995] 1 SCR 451. Starr v Houlden, [1990] 1 SCR 1366.