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A woman pays her respects to victims of a mass shooting at a roadblock in Portapique, N.S., on April 22, 2020.Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press

The member of Parliament who represents the region in Nova Scotia where Canada’s deadliest mass killing took place says an inquiry into the shooting that claimed 22 lives should include a feminist analysis that examines the role of domestic violence.

Police have said that the gunman’s rampage started with an assault on his common-law wife.

Cumberland-Colchester MP Lenore Zann said she would like to see an independent inquiry that probes the link between domestic violence and the violence that transpired in April.

“I would like it include a feminist analysis that looks at the domestic violence aspect of this man’s life and the fact that there is a connection, experts say, between private violence and public violence,” said Ms. Zann.

Nova Scotia Justice Minister Mark Furey said last week that there will be a joint federal-provincial inquiry or review into the mass killing and that, while the details are still taking shape, it must include judicial leadership, the power to call witnesses to testify and the ability to make binding recommendations.

This is a “very difficult time for family, and they want answers,” Mr. Furey said in a statement. He said he expects an announcement will be made in the near future and details about the inquiry or the review will be shared at that time.

Mary-Liz Power, a spokesperson for federal Public Safety Minister Bill Blair, did not comment directly on the inquiry, instead saying that Mr. Blair has been in “close contact” with Mr. Furey regarding the RCMP’s continuing investigation.

“The terrible tragedy that took place in Nova Scotia has left Canadians with many questions. We ... join Nova Scotians in the search for those important answers," Ms. Power said.

The RCMP have been criticized over how they responded to the shooting and for not warning residents about the gunman through the province’s public-alert system. They’re also facing questions about why earlier complaints against the 51-year-old denturist did not result in charges.

Nova Scotia RCMP have said they are re-examining a 2013 domestic abuse and weapons complaint against the gunman to try and understand what, if any, action was taken at the time.

Last week, RCMP Superintendent Darren Campbell called the gunman an “injustice collector,” in a briefing with reporters, saying that his grudges ultimately exploded in violence.

Ms. Zann said she would like to hear more about his behaviour toward women.

“Right now all the RCMP is saying is that he was a grievance collector. I’m sorry, that’s lame. That’s not addressing the issue of the violence against women, of the domestic violence,” she said.

Ms. Zann said she would like to see a woman take the helm of the investigation, someone who understands the dynamics of domestic violence, control and coercion.

She would also like to see changes in law, such as the adoption of a red flag law that would give people the opportunity to report “red flags” they see in someone’s behaviour, such as if they pose a danger to themselves or others, and that would compel law enforcement to investigate.

Linda MacDonald and Jeanne Sarson, two former nurses in Truro, N.S., who run the advocacy campaign Persons Against Non-State Torture, say the inquiry needs to consider violence against women.

“We want the inquiry to have a feminist lens, and we feel that the chair needs to have knowledge of feminism to be able to understand that lens, to examine all the aspects of male violence against women in relation to the shooter, what his history was like, and have a knowledge of femicide and a knowledge that mass shootings and male violence against women are connected,” said Ms. MacDonald.

Ms. Sarson added that the inquiry also needs to look at how police agencies respond to male violence.

A man who'd already killed 13 people in Portapique, N.S., managed to escape the community just minutes after the first police arrived at the scene.

The Canadian Press

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