Emerging Issues, In the News

Part 8: Inquest Recommendations — Leadership Requests

October 03, 2022

This is the final blog in our series exploring recommendations from the coroner’s inquest into the murders of three Renfrew County, Ontario women – Nathalie Warmerdam, Anastasia Kuzyk and Carol Culleton.

We’ve been sharing the 86 jury recommendations across several weeks to help you understand the results of this historic inquest and how we can hold our public institutions accountable to prevent similar homicides from happening again. 

This last set of recommendations bolster the recurring themes highlighted in our earlier blogs in the series.

Keep reading for our summary of the jury’s requests to leadership bodies — specifically, the Chief Firearms Officer, Office of the Chief Coroner, the Information and Privacy Commissioner, and the Government of Canada. 

Implement a victim-first approach 

The jury addressed a series of recommendations to the Government of Canada to ensure the needs of victims are considered and that laws adequately address the reality of intimate partner violence (IPV).

Recognizing that the National Action Plan on Gender-Based Violence should be implemented in a timely manner, the jury went further and advocated for the establishment of a Royal Commission to review and recommend changes to the Criminal Justice system to make it more victim-centric. Specific recommendations include adding “coercive control,” as defined in the Divorce Act, as a criminal offence; exploring the addition of the term “Femicide” to the Criminal Code; and considering amendments to the Dangerous Offender provisions of the Criminal Code.

The jury added that IPV survivors should have alternate means to attend and testify in court like via videoconferencing.

Stricter controls on firearms

The Chief Firearms Officer should change the name of the Spousal Support line to make it clear that this is a broadly accessible resource, not limited to a particular kind of relationship. The line should be staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and be publicized to enhance public awareness.

Guidelines should be created to assist in decision-making regarding firearm Possession and Acquisition Licenses (PAL), paying particular attention to red flags and risk factors around IPV, including where there is no conviction.

A PAL should be automatically reviewed when someone is charged with an IPV-related offence. PAL applicants and holders should report any changes provided to the Chief Firearms Officer, including when an individual with weapons restrictions comes to reside in their home. PAL application and renewal forms should be amended to require identification as a surety.

Recognizing the important role of the DVDRC

The Office of the Chief Coroner should provide the Domestic Violence Death Review Committee (DVDRC) with improved supports, ensure that reports and responses to recommendations are publicly available without charge and published online in a timely manner. The DVDRC should consider adopting Femicide as one of the categories for manner of death.

Balancing privacy interests and public safety

Echoing concerns raised in previous recommendations the jury asked the Privacy Commissioner of Ontario to working with the DVDRC, justice partners and IPV service providers to develop a tool to empower IPV professionals to make informed decisions about privacy, confidentiality, and public safety.

Importantly, the jury asked all parties to the inquest to reconvene one year following the Verdict to discuss the progress in implementing these recommendations

While our initial blog series has wrapped up, we plan to share updates on how the jury recommendations are being implemented across the province and Canada.
Keep an eye on the NFF blog or follow us on Facebook and Twitter to hear first when we post news about the inquest recommendations.