'People need answers': Growing calls for government to change course, call inquiry into mass shooting
PORTAPIQUE, N.S. -- Like Many Nova Scotians, Joy Laking is still trying to wrap her head around what happened in her community in April.
"It is all the unanswered questions that you know, are really bothering me," she said.
Laking has called Portapique home for the last 46 years. The artist spends much of her time outside, painting in her yard. Not far from where Canada's largest mass shooting started.
Laking knew six of the 22 victims of April's tragedy. She also knew the gunman.
"We had no idea what was going on. Jim was out walking the dog on the Sunday morning. We had no call, no police came to the door, nothing," she said.
Thursday, the provincial and federal governments announced an independent three-member panel would review the mass killing.
It's a decision that doesn't sit well with many families of the victims, who had been pushing for a public inquiry.
"We're disappointed," said Darcy Dobson, whose mother, Heather O'Brien, was killed in the deadly rampage. "It's a slap in the face for sure."
Laking has many questions about the deadly incident and also wants to see an inquiry.
"It just wasn't handled properly, and I know it will never bring the people back, but hopefully, it will set in place things that have to be done in this kind of disaster," she said. "I don't want anybody fired. I don't want anybody to take a rap on this, I just don't want anything like this to ever happen again."
Tom Taggart, the area's councillor, says he's disappointed a public inquiry has not been called.
"People need answers, it's just as simple as that," he said. "I'm hoping that it's possible that public pressure from the families and the public will chase Minister Furey to reconsider."
An online petition, urging government to hold a public inquiry into the mass shooting, has garnered thousands of signatures.
For more than a month, senators from coast-to-coast had been calling for a joint federal/provincial public inquiry into the April mass shootings.
After the review was announced Thursday, the senators issued a news release, saying that they are pleased to learn of the federal provincial initiative, but they had hoped for a different outcome.
"The families and the friends of the deceased have a very strong voice and I think it behooves us to listen to what they are saying and to try to understand their needs," said Sen. Stan Kutcher.
Friday, NDP Leader Gary Burrill said he had written to the Premier calling for an emergency sitting of the legislature in order to establish a public inquiry into the mass shooting.
The NDP is calling for the Liberals to change course and call a public inquiry instead of the review.
"The families of people killed, along with community organizations, legal experts, and the public in general are rightfully hurt, disappointed, and confused by the Liberal government's decision to not call a public inquiry into the mass shooting of April 18-19," said NDP Leader Gary Burrill in a news release.
"Without the power to compel witnesses or evidence, this review does not have the confidence of the people of Nova Scotia, including the victims and their families," Burrill said. "The public deserves to know why this decision was made, and to have it reversed."
Holding an emergency sitting of the legislature is something the Progressive Conservatives support.
"Weagree with Mr. Burrill and the NDP," said PC leader Tim Houston. "The largest mass shooting in the history of Canada demands a full inquiry, and the Liberals made it political by refusing to do what is necessary.All Nova Scotians deserve answers to their many questions."
Despite the mounting pressure, government continues to stand by its decision to call a review and not an inquiry.
"We, as a government, are doing everything we possibly can to get to the bottom of those answers," said Premier Stephen McNeil.