This is an archive of the Elliot Lake Inquiry website, which was last updated in October 2014 and will not be updated further.

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Questions and Answers About the Elliot Lake Inquiry

What was the Elliot Lake Inquiry?

The Elliot Lake Inquiry was established on July 19, 2012 by the Government of Ontario under the Public Inquiries Act, 2009. Its mandate was to inquire into and report on events surrounding the collapse on June 23, 2012, of the Algo Centre Mall in Elliot Lake, the deaths of Lucie Aylwin and Doloris Perizzolo and the injuries to other individuals as well as the emergency management and response.

The Commissioner designated the events and relevant legislation, regulations and bylaws, policies processes and procedures of provincial and municipal governments and other parties with respect to the structural integrity of the Algo Centre Mall leading up to the collapse as "Part 1". He designated the events and relevant legislation, regulations and bylaws, policies processes and procedures of provincial and municipal governments and other parties in respect of the emergency management and response as "Part 2".

The Inquiry's public hearings began in Elliot Lake on March 4, 2012, and concluded on October 9, 2013. Two sets of policy roundtables were held in Ottawa in November and December 2013.

What is a public inquiry?

Governments establish public inquiries 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 Elliot Lake Inquiry, in the Order in Council, establishing the Inquiry.

An inquiry is not a trial. The Commission performs its duties without expressing conclusions about civil or criminal liability of any person or organization.

Who headed the Elliot Lake Inquiry?

The Commissioner, Mr. Justice (ret'd) Paul R. Bélanger, who was appointed on July, 20, 2012, headed the Inquiry.

His biography

When did the Inquiry start and when did it finish?

The Inquiry started with the appointment of the Commissioner. He hired Commission Counsel, an Executive Director, investigators and other staff and established an office in Ottawa and in Elliot Lake. Commission Counsel and investigators spent the months before the start of evidentiary hearings gathering documents and interviewing dozens of people. The public hearings began on March 4, 2013 at the White Mountain Building in Elliot Lake and concluded on October 9, 2013.

The Commissioner held an initial public meeting in Elliot Lake on August 15, 2012 and a hearing on standing on October 26, 2012, also in Elliot Lake. On December 17, 2012, he held a hearing in Ottawa on applications for confidentiality and in November and December 2013 he held two sets of policy roundtables in Ottawa.

His Report was released to the public in Elliot Lake on October 15, 2014. It was transmitted to the Government a few days before.

Who are "Commission Counsel" and what is their role in a public inquiry?

Commission counsel are lawyers who work for the Commissioner. Their role is to represent the public interest. Commission counsel do not represent any particular interest or point of view and, unlike in a trial, their role is neither adversarial nor partisan.

Commission counsel play a key role in locating, organizing and presenting the evidence. They are responsible for bringing all relevant evidence to the attention of the Commissioner and, through the inquiry process, to the public at large.

Where were the public hearings held?

The public hearings were held at the White Mountain Building (formerly the White Mountain Academy) at 99 Spine Road (opposite the hospital) in Elliot Lake.

Where could the public watch the public hearings?

There was seating for the general public in the hearing room and also in an overflow room with a large TV monitor at the White Mountain Building. The proceedings were webcast and have been archived on this web page for a limited time. The local cable company, Eastlink, broadcast the hearings with a one-day delay.

Are public inquiries government investigations?

No, Inquiries are independent although they are paid for by the government. All provincial ministries and agencies are required to co-operate with public inquiries.

Is the Government obliged to adopt the Commissioner's recommendations?

No, the recommendations are not binding but past inquiries have had an important effect on public policy.

  ©2014 The Elliot Lake Inquiry