Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took time Monday (April 20) to mourn those murdered in a mass shooting a day earlier in Nova Scotia.
At least 18 people have been confirmed dead, not including the accused shooter, following a string of shootings throughout the Maritime province Sunday.
“Now these communities are in mourning and Canada is in mourning with them,” Trudeau said during his daily media briefing outside his home in Ottawa.
“We stand with you and we grieve with you.”
Among those killed was RCMP Const. Heidi Stevenson.
“This tragedy is a painful reminder of all the risks our first responders take to make us safe,” the prime minister said.
“No one man’s action can build a wall between us and a better day.”
While Trudeau’s daily briefings over the past six weeks have been focused on Ottawa’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the prime minister’s opening remarks were devoted entirely to the mass shooting in Nova Scotia.
With the shooting coinciding with the pandemic that has halted large gatherings across the country, the press questioned Trudeau whether restrictions could be loosened in Nova Scotia to help people mourn and bury their loved ones respectfully.
“We understand how incredibly painful it is for families who’ve lost loved ones in Nova Scotia this past day, to imagine that they’re not going to be able to see them off together as a community. But at the same time there are thousands and thousands of Canadians across this country who’ve lost loved ones to COVID-19 over the past days, and others who’ve lost family members to cancer and to other causes who haven’t been to gather, to mourn, to grieve, to attend funerals,” he said.
“Everyone will be looking for ways to demonstrate their solidarity without putting further at risk communities, first responders, health professionals and our seniors.”
Trudeau said he planned to attend vigils being held in virtual formats.
He also said he did not wish to jump to conclusions about the means used to carry out the mass shooting while an investigation was ongoing but he did not acknowledge that his minority government had been preparing to introduce legislation to ban assault-style weapons before the pandemic interrupted Parliament’s typical schedule.
He said his government has every intention of introducing such legislation when the House of Commons returns for regular sittings.
But questions linger over how Parliament will function amid efforts to practise social distancing.
The House of Commons resumed sitting Monday with a small group of MPs after parties failed to reach a consensus the day before.
“There is agreement amongst most of the parties in the House of Commons,” Trudeau said, referring to the Liberals, NDP and Bloc Quebecois.
“And I hope to see by the end of this day that we’re all in a place where we can both have parliamentary institutions functioning but doing so in a responsible way given the context we’re in.”