Families Must Come First

March 30, 2023

Ottawa, ON – Dr. Stephen Ellis, Member of Parliament for Cumberland-Colchester, Rick Perkins, Member of Parliament for South Shore—St. Margarets, Chris d’Entremont, Member of Parliament for West Nova, and Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu, Senator from Quebec, released the following statement on the Mass Casualty Commission (MCC): 

“The past three years have been a nightmare for family members of the 22 victims, including a pregnant woman, that lost their lives during a murderous rampage across northern and central Nova Scotia. We sincerely believe that the ultimate priority of the MCC should be to bring them justice. Nothing can make up for the loss of their loved ones, but perhaps answering their unanswered questions might allow them to move on to the next stage of their grief.  

“It is clear to us that the initial response to this tragedy was full of neglect. The RCMP’s leadership denied a request to release crucial details to the public, which could have saved lives. The RCMP waited more than nine hours to alert the public to the presence of an active shooter and more than 10 hours to inform them that the shooter was making use of a replica RCMP cruiser and uniform.  

“It must be made clear that individual first responders acted with great initiative. Constable Stuart Beselt requested that the public be warned about the imminent danger. Constable Heidi Stevenson, who just hours later would sacrifice her life in a desperate bid to stop the rampage, asked RCMP leadership to release critical information about the shooter to the public. However, these warnings fell on deaf ears, with tragic results.  

“From the outset, the main focus of the MCC’s efforts should have been on the victims’ families. It was very clear from the early stages that not only did families have minimal involvement in the process, but they would not be allowed to interview witnesses. 

“In the aftermath of the shooting, there was also significant alleged interference for political gain. Promises to the government to release specific investigative details could have jeopardized the entire investigation. 

“Unfortunately, this public inquiry leaves the families feeling empty, abandoned and adds to the significant difficulty of carrying on their grief with peace and serenity. Tom Bagley, Kristen Beaton and her unborn child, Greg Blair, Jamie Blair, Joy Bond, Peter Bond, Lillian Campbell, Corrie Ellison, Gina Goulet, Alanna Jenkins, Sean McLeod, Dawn Gulenchyn, Frank Gulenchyn, Lisa McCully, Heather O’Brien, Jolene Oliver, Aaron Tuck, Emily Tuck, Heidi Stevenson, Joanne Thomas, John Zahl, and Joey Webber, deserve better, as do all of their families in the communities affected by this tragedy.  

“Three years after the tragedy, we all still find ourselves with a heavy feeling of emptiness and incomprehension, especially the families of the victims who should have been immediately supported, in every way possible. Our sincere condolences and our prayers will continue to accompany them in the future.”