Kathy Dunderdale says she opted out of a requested "grandmother to grandmother" meeting with relatives of Burton Winters when her staff realized the family's intentions had changed.
The Newfoundland and Labrador premier told reporters that the congenial meeting that had been scheduled for Friday was something she had agreed to, and had recognized that the family also wanted to discuss their calls for an inquiry into the death of the Makkovik teen, whose frozen body was found on ice outside the community in early February.
But Dunderdale said the meeting went off the rails when staff told her that the family wanted to bring along former search and rescue co-ordinator Clarence Peddle, who has been outspoken about how officials responded to the search for Winters.
"When I agree to a meeting [with] certain parameters and say again we don't want this to be, I want this to be what you asked it to be, and not some big public relations stunt, then I'm not going to allow myself to go into a meeting where I can't give the family what she's clearly asking for," Dunderdale said.
Dunderdale said her office told Charlotte Winters-Fost, the grandmother of Burton Winters, that the family should meet instead with Municipal Affairs Minister Kevin O'Brien, who is responsible for emergency services.
While the Winters family claimed in a letter that Dunderdale cancelled the meeting, Dunderdale said the family actually refused to meet with government officials.
"If that's the type of meeting you want, this is how and where it will be provided, and Mrs. Fost turned the meeting down," Dunderdale said.
Meanwhile, Peddle told CBC News that he doesn't believe that the premier was given all the details about what the family had wanted from her.
"Premier Dunderdale never did have any direct communication with Burton Winters' grandmother," he said in an interview.
"It was always the staff in her office, so Premier Dunderdale is getting this interpretation of what transpired from her staff."
The Winters family and their supporters have been calling since February for a public inquiry into the search and rescue response when he was reported missing on Jan. 29. His body was found Feb. 1.
RCMP said the 14-year-year old managed to walk for 19 kilometres over rugged sea ice until he could go no further.
Many people in Makkovik believe that Burton Winters had missed a turnoff on a snowmobile trail and instead of heading home rode his machine instead toward the sea.
While much of the concern of the family and supporters has involved the military's role in the response, new questions have been raised lately about both how the RCMP command handled calls in the earliest hours, and the role of provincial emergency officials.