A trio of Canadian Senators are calling on the provincial and federal governments to work together and launch a joint inquiry into one of Canada’s worst mass shootings.
Senators Mary Coyle, Colin Deacon and Stan Kutcher, addressed the letter to Federal Public Safety Minister Bill Blair and Nova Scotia Justice Minister Mark Furey.
All three are independent senators from Nova Scotia.
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They are calling for the immediate launch of a “joint and equally-led public inquiry” into the shooting that left 22 people dead in April.
The rampage by Gabriel Wortman started late on April 18 and continued for the next 13 hours across northern and central Nova Scotia before he was shot dead by police.
“In the chaos that unfolded in mid-April, twenty-two Nova Scotians lost their lives,” the letter from the senators reads.
“Canadians deserve to know what happened and what actions the police and others took or could have taken to prevent or better mitigate this situation.”
Furey said last week he was in the “final stages” of discussion with Blair, who is working with him to determine the best format for a probe into the massacre. Furey said that he would provide an update this week.
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The senators say a joint inquiry would help everyone “better understand” what transpired and could lead to changes to “policies, practices and procedures” that would give Canadians the tool to prevent similar tragedies in the future.
The Senators say the inquiry “must” address the social and public safety issues of the tragedy and not just examine how the RCMP responded to the event.
Some of the issues they’d like the inquiry to assess include:
- What are the details of what unfolded over the 13 hour killing spree and what occurred in the time leading up to that period?
- What was the role (if any) of the COVID-19 pandemic?
- Why was the provincial emergency alert system not initiated?
- Why was there a delay in sharing the information regarding the murderer’s impersonation of an RCMP officer?
- When stopped by police, the perpetrator was possibly heading into a highly populated urban area, what plans did the police have to intercept him before that occurred?
- How did the perpetrator acquire his weapons and what can be done so that in the future, others will not be able to do so?
- What were the problems in the processes designed to ensure identification and effective response to previous reports of domestic violence, threats and weapon acquisition that involved the perpetrator?
- What caused a breakdown in communication amongst federal – provincial jurisdictions?
- What are the communication protocols between Halifax Regional Police and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police related to the special warning that was issued and were all protocols followed?
- What changes in law are required to have multiple reports of violent misogynistic behaviour addressed by not just police, but by mental health experts as well?
- How can we better conduct threat assessments in our communities to avoid these kinds of tragedies?
The Senators said a feminist lens would be critical to the inquiry’s success and that it must seek “to change how the current system addresses” spousal abuse and misogyny.
The letter concludes by saying the Senators look forward “to an immediate announcement” of a public inquiry.