Premier Stephen McNeil says it’s up to Ottawa, but the Nova Scotia government is hearing more calls to launch a public inquiry into last month’s mass shooting, which claimed 22 lives in the province.
McNeil believes an inquiry would be a federal responsibility, since the RCMP is a federal agency, but many people — including some of the victims’ family members — feel the province should take charge of it.
“Firearms fall under the purview of the national government, guns coming across the border fall under the purview of the national government,” McNeil said on Thursday.
“I said they need to be lead agency.”
Halifax privacy lawyer David Fraser says there’s no reason why Nova Scotia can’t handle an inquiry on its own, pointing to a case on Canada’s west coast.
“There was the Taser-related death of an individual in the airport in Vancouver, which is in the hands of the RCMP; that was looked into by a provincial inquiry, which related to the RCMP, a federal agency in an airport — a federally-regulated airport — and interactions with the CBSA (Canada Border Services Agency),” noted Fraser.
“Just because federal agencies are implicated doesn’t mean the province loses jurisdiction.”
A former journalist and author of three books on the RCMP, Paul Palango says an inquiry is necessary and would provide vital information.
“This seems to be the province ducking responsibility when it should be actually stepping up to the plate,” said Palango.
“It’s their problem.”
He believes Nova Scotians deserves answers following the killing spree.
“They are being ignored,” he said. “The RCMP has to explain what they didn’t do. I’m not blaming the individual members. I think it’s the system in which they were not prepared. They were not properly trained.”
Nova Scotia’s opposition leader is also calling on the McNeil government to take charge.
PC Leader Tim Houston says he’s hopeful the province is pushing Ottawa to get it done.
“This isn’t a case where any elected official should just say that’s something, that’s somebody else’s issue,” said Houston.
“That’s an issue for all Nova Scotians and it’s an issue that we all have a lot of questions about, and as a country we deserve answers, too.”
McNeil says the province’s attorney general has been in talks with his federal counterpart about a possible inquiry, but there’s no word at this time on whether an inquiry will be called.