PM won’t com­mit to N.S. mur­ders probe

Two gov­ern­ments to work to­gether on next steps, he says

Ottawa Citizen - - City - MICHAEL TUTTON

HAL­I­FAX Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau won’t com­mit to a fed­eral in­quiry into the re­cent Nova Sco­tia shoot­ings, even as the prov­ince’s premier con­tin­ues to say it’s up to Ot­tawa to take the lead in ex­am­in­ing the tragedy.

Nova Sco­tia’s premier said this month he would not ini­ti­ate a pub­lic in­quiry into the shoot­ing ram­page that claimed 22 lives last month, say­ing the prov­ince was wait­ing to see what Trudeau’s govern­ment de­cided.

Stephen McNeil told re­porters the prov­ince “will wait to see” what the fed­eral govern­ment commits to be­yond the on­go­ing RCMP in­ves­ti­ga­tion, and McNeil has said he be­lieves the key ar­eas of ju­ris­dic­tion — such as the pro­ce­dures used by the Moun­ties — are fed­eral.

How­ever, speak­ing to re­porters Fri­day in Ot­tawa, Trudeau said the RCMP was still work­ing on the case, and the fed­eral govern­ment would work with Nova Sco­tia on what to do next. He sidesteppe­d a ques­tion on whether his govern­ment would launch an in­quiry fed­er­ally.

“Peo­ple have many ques­tions about what hap­pened in Nova Sco­tia, and we are en­cour­ag­ing the RCMP to do its work on the ini­tial in­ves­ti­ga­tion, but as we move for­ward there will be, of course, larger ques­tions to ask, and we will work with the govern­ment of Nova Sco­tia on get­ting those an­swers,” Trudeau said.

Fam­ily mem­bers of vic­tims and le­gal ex­perts have re­peat­edly called for more in­for­ma­tion on the po­lice han­dling of the ram­page, which lasted more than 12 hours.

There have also been ques­tions about how the RCMP in­formed the pub­lic of the shoot­ings as they un­folded over five lo­ca­tions. The per­pe­tra­tor’s his­tory of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence has also been raised as a key is­sue.

The Moun­ties pro­vided a time­line of the ram­page in­di­cat­ing that it be­gan in Por­tapique, N.S., on April 18 after a do­mes­tic as­sault in which the gun­man, Gabriel Wort­man, de­tained and abused his com­mon-law wife. Po­lice have said she man­aged to es­cape into nearby woods, where she hid un­til early in the morn­ing of April 19.

Last week, a for­mer neigh­bour of Wort­man’s said she re­ported an ac­count of a 2013 in­ci­dent of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence by Wort­man against the com­mon-law spouse to the RCMP in Truro. Brenda Forbes said she re­ported wit­nesses telling her that Wort­man had stran­gled and beaten his com­mon-law part­ner, and she said she told po­lice there were guns in the house.

The RCMP said in an email Fri­day it was still look­ing for the po­lice record of the in­ci­dent and de­clined fur­ther com­ment.

Ed Ratushny, au­thor of The Con­duct of Pub­lic In­quiries, said he firmly be­lieved a pub­lic in­quiry should be called and that it could be a joint fed­eral-provin­cial ef­fort. He said such an in­quiry would be nec­es­sary to get to the bot­tom of what led to the mass shoot­ing.

The Univer­sity of Ot­tawa pro­fes­sor emer­i­tus of law said there were over­lap­ping is­sues of provin­cial and fed­eral ju­ris­dic­tion.

He gave the ex­am­ple of the is­sue of do­mes­tic abuse, not­ing that the way sup­port was pro­vided to abuse vic­tims was largely a provin­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity, while changes to rel­e­vant Crim­i­nal Code of­fences to pre­vent abuse would be a fed­eral mat­ter.

“I think there’s much more room for provin­cial and fed­eral gov­ern­ments for get­ting their acts to­gether on in­quiries, be­cause the prob­lems don’t hap­pen in si­los. They’re of­ten very in­ter­re­lated,” he said.

“If they want to get to bot­tom of it, just get to­gether and get a re­ally good com­mis­sioner who has the trust of the pub­lic,” he said.

The Cana­dian Press, with files from Jordan Press

THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

A prop­erty reg­is­tered to mass mur­derer Gabriel Wort­man is left be­hind in Por­tapique, N.S. Last week, a for­mer neigh­bour of Wort­man’s said she re­ported an ac­count of a 2013 in­ci­dent of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence by Wort­man against his com­mon law spouse to the RCMP in Truro.

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