Judge rules 16 names in Nova Scotia mass shooting warrants to remain redacted
A fire-destroyed property at 200 Portapique Beach Rd. is seen in Portapique, N.S., Friday, May 8, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
HALIFAX -- The names of 16 people who gave statements to police following last April's mass shooting in Nova Scotia will remain redacted, a judge has ruled.
In a written decision released Tuesday, Judge Laurel Halfpenny-MacQuarrie said there would be "a serious risk" associated with publishing the names of people who are "simply conduits of information to the police and nothing more."
Halfpenny-MacQuarrie said the individuals and businesses either had a personal connection to gunman Gabriel Wortman, were familiar with him or had incidental contact with him.
"As a general statement, they provided specific details of his life, his illegal activities, business associations, financial transactions, his beliefs, his childhood, his wealth," the judge wrote.
She said the information they gave police is now known to the public after media outlets went to court seeking the release of RCMP search warrant information related to the April 18-19 rampage that claimed the lives of 22 people.
Halfpenny-MacQuarrie said releasing the names would most likely lead to "speculation, public analysis and perhaps marginalization" that could have "a lasting negative effect."
The judge said that although the public, as argued by the media outlets, has the absolute right to know the "what, when and why" behind the warrants, she concluded that "there is no further information to be garnered by releasing the 16 names."
However, Halfpenny-MacQuarrie did note that the names are "temporarily redacted," and an upcoming joint public inquiry can apply to the court for access to them if it needs to.
She also ruled that the name of an anthropologist included in the police information can be released, because the individual was hired and voluntarily became involved in the investigation.
The judge said she would lift the sealing order covering sections of the documents where the anthropologist's name appears on March 24.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 16, 2021.