Chantel Moore death prompts call for N.B. agency to investigate police shootings
Public Safety minister says regional agency makes more sense
The family of a 26-year-old Indigenous woman who was shot dead by police in Edmundston last week deserve answers sooner rather than later, the province's Green Party leader said Tuesday.
Speaking in the provincial legislature, David Coon said Chantel Moore's family should know the details of the investigation into her death by the end of the month.
"Something went tragically wrong and there must be answers to all of the family's questions — not six months from now, but now," Coon said.
Moore was killed when Edmundston police arrived at her home in response to a request to check on her well-being. Police allege the responding officer encountered a woman with a knife.
A probe has started through Quebec's independent police investigation agency, known as the Bureau des enquetes independantes. The agency has said it won't comment until it files its report, which could take months.
A dozen of Moore's relatives arrived from British Columbia on Monday to help support her family in New Brunswick.
"It's unacceptable and cruel to the family to have to wait until a final report is prepared by Quebec's serious incident response team that is accountable to Quebec, reviewed behind closed doors until a final report is made public," Coon said.
New Brunswick should have its own agency to investigation situations involving police, he said.
He pointed to the report last December of an independent consultant hired to review operations of the New Brunswick Police Commission.
Alphonse McNeil recommended the creation of a Serious Incident Response Team to investigate deaths and other serious incidents involving police, as exists in six other provinces.
Province better served by regional agency, says minister
However, Public Safety Minister Carl Urquhart and Premier Blaine Higgs say it would make more sense to have one such independent agency for the Maritimes.
"I'm not sure that New Brunswick having its own is the right answer," Urquhart told Coon.
Higgs said he doesn't have any issue with using an independent agency from outside the province.
The premier said he agrees that Moore's family deserves answers, but he said it would not be right to have bits and pieces of information released during the investigation.
"The time it takes is the time it takes. While we may want to rush it and move it forward and get the answers quickly, it is a process and it's more important to be thorough than fast," Higgs said.
The premier said he hopes the report of the Quebec agency will include recommendations or lead to ways to make improvements.
People's Alliance Leader Kris Austin said he's open to either a new agency for New Brunswick or using one from outside the province.
"I think we have to look at all the options as see which one would work the best in terms of investigating police activity,"