‘We want a public inquiry’: Families speak out against N.S. shooting review

Click to play video: 'Outrage growing over decision to hold review into April N.S. shooting' Outrage growing over decision to hold review into April N.S. shooting
The family members of the 22 victims say they expected a full public inquiry into the incident—and the response of the RCMP. As Alicia Draus reports, some now say they won’t rest until they get it – Jul 24, 2020

Not a day has gone by since April 18 that Harry Bond hasn’t thought about his parents Peter and Joy.

“They’d do anything for anybody,” said Bond.

But everything changed one night in April, when a gunman began a shooting spree in Portapique, ending in Enfield Nova Scotia, leaving 22 people dead along the way. Among the victims were Bond’s parents.

“I think about them every day, every night, I don’t sleep very much.”

READ MORE: Public wanted ‘full, comprehensive’ inquiry into shooting, says Nova Scotia senator

While the pain will never go away, getting answers to some of the lingering questions about just how this happened will help to provide closure, and it’s why many family members of the victims have been calling for a public inquiry.

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On Wednesday, one day before the review was announced, a march was held in Bible Hill to demand a public inquiry.

Family member’s of the victims including Bond attended.

“Give us the answers that we want, give us the answers we deserve,” he said.

But instead of a public inquiry, on Thursday the provincial and federal governments announced a joint independent review, to be conducted by a three-person panel.

READ MORE: Review of Nova Scotia shooting to examine cause, police response and victim engagement

When pressed why a review, both Nova Scotia Justice Minister Mark Furey, and Federal Public Safety Minister Bill Blair defended their decision. They said they considered all options but decided that a review would be the best as it was the most timely option, and wouldn’t re-traumatize the families.

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In a statement released Thursday on behalf of the families, they called the announcement “disappointing,” and says families wanted “to participate, not be protected.”

“We don’t need people telling us what they believe we need, we need them to listen to us and give us the public inquiry,” said Bond.

The frustration that the families are feeling is being shared by Nova Scotians across the province. In less than 24 hours thousands signed yet another petition calling for a public inquiry.

Click to play video: 'Independent panel to review Nova Scotia mass murder' Independent panel to review Nova Scotia mass murder
Independent panel to review Nova Scotia mass murder – Jul 23, 2020

Nova Scotian senator Mary Coyle says it’s encouraging to see the public speaking out, but says it should have never reached this point.

“The public spoke out before this announcement and the public was always calling for a full, open and comprehensive public inquiry.”

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Coyle was among more than 30 Canadian senators who signed a letter to N.S. ministers last weekend about a pressing need to establish a public inquiry, and says she and her colleagues are disappointed that the federal and provincial governments chose a review instead.

“There are really a couple things that we’re worried about,” said Coyle. “One is full transparency and the second is the ability to subpoena any witness that’s required.”

Click to play video: 'Multiple witnesses to Nova Scotia shooter’s violent past' Multiple witnesses to Nova Scotia shooter’s violent past
Multiple witnesses to Nova Scotia shooter’s violent past – May 22, 2020

On Friday, Premier Stephen McNeil defended the decision to hold a review.

“I understand quite honestly that there’s a level, a belief out there that the only way to get the truth is through a public inquiry, but that’s just not true and we know that not to be true,” he said.

“If [the panel] are at a point where they need more power or they need more support to be able to get to those answers, they come to our government and we will respond to them.”

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But family members say they’re angered and frustrated, and simply do not accept that a review is the right way to go as it does not offer the transparency they have been calling for.

“We want the public inquiry and we will fight until we get it,” said Bond.

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