As the province of Nova Scotia mourns the victims of this country’s worst mass shooting in modern history, there are growing calls for a public inquiry.
Both opposition party leaders say that public inquiry is needed to fully understand what happened just over one week ago.
The RCMP continue to investigate the 13-hour shooting spree that killed 22 Nova Scotians.
The lone suspect was eventually killed by police at a roadside gas bar along Highway 102 in Enfield, N.S. but as the investigation continues, a lot of questions are being raised by many people who want answers — including family members.
One major criticism being drawn from this mass shooting incident was the Mounties’ reliance on using Twitter to communicate the imminent public danger, instead of sending a provincial emergency alert.
“If there’s government policy that was somehow slowing down the process — I know I think the premier said at one point people were waiting for specific language for an alert — I would have questions about that when there was pretty clear language on Twitter where people eventually went to look for that,” said PC leader Tim Houston.
NDP leader Gary Burrill says some form of an inquiry is the next logical step to look into not only the communication breakdown but all actions surrounding the mass murder.
“I think we can trust that this will be thought out thoroughly in the next upcoming period,” said Burrill. “And the right kind of inquiry will be brought through.”
Burrill compares the Nova Scotia killing spree, Canada’s worst mass murder situation, to the Moncton RCMP shootings in 2014 that killed three Mounties and injured two.
That tragedy brought an inquiry with several recommendations, said Burrill, along with ramifications including labour code violations against the RCMP for failing to provide its members with proper use-of-force equipment.
“I think we can trust that that kind of scrutiny and review and consideration of the forces work in this case will be undertaken by the right people to undertake it in the right time frame for it to be taken in,” said Burrill.
Houston agrees and said now’s the time to let the entire province know what steps will be taken to provide some consolation and ensure that this “senseless tragedy” will be fully examined.
“A public inquiry will be meaningful and useful for all Nova Scotians and all those involved, to know exactly what we can do better,” said Houston.
The minister of justice and attorney general’s office declined an interview, saying it’s premature to be considering a public inquiry while the RCMP continues its investigation, but in a statement said all options are being looked at.
Still, Nova Scotians and families want answers but they won’t come quickly says privacy lawyer David Fraser.
“I like so many Nova Scotians want answers as soon as we can get it,” said Fraser. “But what’s just as important or even more important is that we have good information.”
Fraser said that kind of full transparency and information can only come from a full public inquiry but that shouldn’t step on the toes of the Mounties’ current investigation, which is complex and spread out across 16 different crime scenes, from Portapique in the northern reaches of the province to central Enfield in central Nova Scotia.
“Public inquiries’ have been very effective in Nova Scotia,” said Fraser.
“This isn’t about pointing fingers or placing blame, but it’s about understanding what happened and making sure to the best of our ability that it doesn’t happen again.”