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FAQs About the Cornwall Public Inquiry

What is a public inquiry?

Public inquiries are established by governments to investigate and report on matters of substantial public interest. The mandate of each inquiry is set out in its terms of reference or, in the case of the Cornwall Public Inquiry, in the Order in Council establishing the Commission.

What did the Cornwall Public Inquiry look into?

The mandate of the Cornwall Public Inquiry was twofold.

First, the Commission inquired into and reported on the institutional response of the justice system and other public institutions in relation to allegations of historical abuse of young people in the Cornwall area

Second, the Commission inquired into and reported on processes, services or programs that will encourage community healing and reconciliation in Cornwall.

Where and when did the hearings take place?

The hearings took place at:

The Cornwall Public Inquiry
Hearing Room
709 Cotton Mill Street
Cornwall, Ontario

The Inquiry hearings schedule was posted on the home page of the Cornwall Public Inquiry website at The schedule included the dates and times public hearings were held along with a regularly updated witness list, transcripts and media information.

Who headed the Inquiry?

The Commissioner was Justice G. Normand Glaude.

Were the hearings open to the public?

Yes, the hearings were open to the public. In some circumstances, however, testimony was given in camera. Those sessions were not public.

Did the Inquiry draw any conclusions or make any recommendations regarding the civil or criminal liability of any person or organization?

No, it did not.

Was this a government investigation?

No, the Inquiry was independent. It was being paid for by the provincial government but, in accordance with the Public Inquiries Act, the Commission was independent.

Who were Commission counsel and what did they do?

Commission counsel were lawyers who worked for the Commission. Their role was to represent the public interest. Commission counsel did not represent any interest or point of view; their role was neither adversarial nor partisan.

Peter Engelmann led the Commission counsel team.

In terms of their role, Commission counsel located, organized and led the evidence. They were responsible for bringing all relevant evidence to the attention of the Commissioner and, through the Inquiry process, to the public at large.

Who participated in the Inquiry?

Applications for standing were submitted by interested parties and organizations and reviewed by the Commissioner in order to determine which persons and organizations would be granted full or partial standing. This determination was based on the Commissioner's assessment of the extent to which applicants demonstrated a "direct and substantial interest" in the matter(s) being examined by the Commission. A list of the parties and organizations granted standing is posted on the hearings page of the Cornwall Public Inquiry website at

Who was allowed to apply for standing?

Any person or organization with an interest in the subject of the Inquiry was allowed to apply for standing.

Who paid for the parties' participation in the Inquiry?

Some parties and organizations paid for their own participation. In other instances, for example, when parties or organizations did not have the financial means, they applied for funding. Funding recommendations were made by the Commissioner and were subject to the final approval of the Attorney General.

What happened after the hearings? When did the Inquiry end?

All of the evidence was heard by January 29, 2009. Final submissions ended on February 27, 2009. Commissioner Glaude released the Report of the Cornwall Inquiry on December 15, 2009. The report contains findings and recommendations. It will be up to the government to act on those recommendations.

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