Joint inquiry into mass shooting the only option

Editor’s note: The following letter was written to Bill Blair, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, and Nova Scotia Justice Minister Mark Furey.

Government of Canada

Dear Ministers Blair and Furey,

On June 7, we, Senators Coyle, Deacon, Kutcher sent a letter to both your offices detailing the urgent and pressing need to establish a joint and equally led public inquiry into the recent Nova Scotia mass shootings and related events. Three weeks have now passed, since we first reached out to you and we have now been joined by Senators Bernard and Christmas in our shared concern on this matter.

Minister Furey has responded indicating that he is working with the federal government on how to best seek answers for those that have lost loved ones. Minister Blair has assured us in the Senate Chamber on June 25 that work is ongoing. We appreciate that preliminary steps have been taken in the process and that there is a certain level of complexity in establishing any type of investigative mechanism surrounding such a mass atrocity, let alone in the midst of a pandemic.

Nonetheless, we must insist that a joint inquiry is not only the best option, it is the only option that will ensure all issues surrounding this tragedy are evaluated in an objective, unbiased and nonpartisan manner. A joint inquiry could significantly impact policies, practices and procedures at various levels and provide law enforcement with the necessary tools to prevent future tragedies of this kind.

In our previous correspondence, we included a detailed list of the issues that must be addressed through this inquiry, including the importance of utilizing a feminist lens to fully understand the scope of this tragedy and what precipitated the events that played out that day.

The current delay and lack of transparency is fomenting speculation regarding the shooting and the shooter himself. The longer we wait to establish an inquiry, the more assumptions will arise, further eroding public trust regarding law enforcement.

We are once again calling on you both to launch a comprehensive, thorough and fulsome public inquiry, jointly and equally led by the federal and provincial government, that addresses the details of this event as well as the complex social and structural matters that are related to it.

Senator Wanda Thomas Bernard

Senator Dan Christmas

Senator Mary Coyle

Senator Colin Deacon

Senator Stan Kutcher