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Dalton McGuinty testifies at Elliot Lake mall collapse inquiry

10/07/2013 08:52 EDT | Updated 12/07/2013 05:12 EST
Former Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty has begun testifying today at the judicial inquiry into last year's deadly collapse of the roof at the Algo Centre shopping mall in Elliot Lake.

McGuinty, the final witness at the inquiry that began last March, is expected to answer questions about his involvement in the restart of the rescue effort during the June 2012 incident.

When rescue workers finally recovered the bodies of Doloris Perizzolo and Lucie Aylwin — days after the mall roof fell in — McGuinty, the Liberal premier at the time, pledged there would be answers.

“We need to carefully review how we responded to this tragedy,” he said during a press conference last summer.

“My undertaking to you and to all Ontarians is that we will learn any lessons there are to be found here.”

- Video: McGuinty on Elliot Lake mall collapse in June 2012

On Wednesday, McGuinty will be asked to provide some of those answers.

The inquiry has heard he urged the rescue commander to resume the search inside the mall.

Speaking with the public last year, McGuinty said:

“I reacted as all of you did, as all Ontarians did. So I phoned some of the folks in charge and said, 'Is there not something that we might continue to do. Is there not some other option that we might together pursue?'”

Bill Neadles, the commander in charge of the disaster team that deployed to the mall collapse, had just told the community the rescue was over because the building was too unstable.

Neadles testified that he agreed to find another way to reach the victims during a telephone conversation with McGuinty.

But in testimony Tuesday, community safety commissioner Dan Hefkey said the rescue would have resumed — even without McGuinty's involvement.

“The implementation of the plan that they were developing at the local level was going to occur,” Hefkey said.

Follow CBC News live coverage of the inquiry here:

Following McGuinty's testimony, the commissioner will produce a report on what led to the disaster, and will make recommendations on how to prevent other such tragedies.

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