'Put yourselves in our shoes': Daughter of Nova Scotia shooting victim calls for public inquiry
HALIFAX -- The daughter of a Nova Scotia woman who was killed in the mass shooting in April is adding her voice to those calling for a public inquiry into the massacre, which claimed the lives of 22 people.
Darcy Dobson lost her mother Heather O’Brien, a VON nurse, after a gunman went on a rampage in several Nova Scotia communities on April 18 and 19.
Dobson shared an emotional plea on her personal Facebook page Sunday, calling on both the provincial and federal governments to hold a public inquiry into Canada’s worst mass shooting.
“We are now 40 days past this tragic event, we aren't able to heal properly because, and to be quite frank, the amount of information being kept from us is deplorable. I urge you to put yourselves in our shoes,” Dobson wrote in her social media post. “The woman who was the center of our world was taken from us in a manner that no one could ever even imagine.”
O’Brien’s daughter also wrote about how her mother was a strong woman, who taught her children to be brave and to stand up for what they believe is right.
“We are requesting you give us the information we all deserve,” she wrote. “I am just one voice of many families you will be hearing from and I know we all have similar stories about the beautiful people we’ve lost.”
Nova Scotia’s premier has said Ottawa must take the lead on any public inquiry into the shooting because the RCMP is a federal agency.
However, many legal experts have said that is not the case, and have also urged the province to start laying the framework for an inquiry now.
Premier Stephen McNeil says the province’s attorney general has been in talks with his federal counterpart regarding an inquiry, but there’s no word on how that’s going, or if they’re making any progress.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said the RCMP is still working on the case and the federal government will work with Nova Scotia on what to do next, but he hasn't committed to a federal inquiry.
Dobson says her family, and all Nova Scotians affected by the tragedy, deserve answers so they can begin to heal.
On Monday, Dalhousie University law professor Archie Kaiser says there is no legal reason not to launch an inquiry.
"I remain perplexed as to why our government seems so weak and so deflecting of responsibility here," Kaiser said.
The premier has said it would be up to Ottawa to take the lead because the Mounties fall under federal jurisdiction.
Kaiser says that doesn't matter and families may, in fact, be entitled to an inquiry under the Victims' Rights and Services Act.
"The victims of crime deserve to be treated with courtesy, compassion and respect," Kaiser said. "It's a legitimate question for the victims and survivors to answer here: have they felt they've been treated that way?"
Last month, more than 30 professors and staff at the law school wrote an open letter to the premier, calling for an inquiry.
While there may be resistance to a probe because of a perception someone needs to be blamed, Wayne MacKay, a professor emeritus at Dalhousie's law school, says that's not necessarily the case.
"The idea behind it is to investigate, gather all the facts so that problems can be dealt with going forward so we don't have the same kind of problems," MacKay said.
Nova Scotia Justice Minister Mark Furey responded Monday to the renewed calls for an inquiry.
"I know that the families and Nova Scotians want and deserve answers," Furey said. "The premier and I have been very clear that we are working with the federal government to identify the most effective mechanism to get these answers. We know the province has a role to play. These discussions are a priority for the premier and me."
The provincial medical examiner could also call an inquiry under the Fatality Investigations Act, but Kaiser argues its scope would be much more narrow and restricted to provide adequate answers to 22 families still haunted by unanswered questions.
It's a moot point anyway as Nova Scotia's chief medical examiner, Dr. Matthew Bowes, said Monday that because the province and the justice department are taking action on the matter, there is no need for his office to make a recommendation.