Nova Scotia

Inquiry possible in soldier's murder-suicide, N.S. premier says

Premier Stephen McNeil said a federal inquiry is the most appropriate way to review the case of a former soldier who killed his mother, wife and child but that the province might hold one if it is deemed necessary.

Lionel Desmond killed mother, wife and child in Tracadie home

Lionel Desmond and his daughter Aaliyah are shown in an old photo from Facebook. Aaliyah had recently turned 10 when she was killed. (The Canadian Press/Facebook)

Although Ottawa doesn't seem interested in pursuing it, Premier Stephen McNeil says a federal inquiry is the most appropriate way to examine what may have driven a former soldier to the point of murder and suicide.

Lionel Desmond killed his 52-year-old mother Brenda, his wife Shanna, 31, and their 10-year-old daughter Aaliyah before killing himself in the couple's Tracadie home on Jan. 3.

Lionel Desmond was a veteran of the war in Afghanistan and suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Last Friday, his sisters, Cassandra and Diane Desmond, took their campaign for answers to Parliament Hill.

The family has called on the Department of National Defence and Veterans Affairs Canada to provide answers to questions about the treatment and support her brother received or didn't receive before and after his discharge for medical reasons.

Speaking on the steps in front of the Centre Block, Cassandra Desmond said the family is still waiting to hear whether Nova Scotia's medical examiner will recommend a provincial inquiry.

But federal officials insisted an inquiry was the province's call, based on the recommendation of the medical examiner's office.

McNeil offered a different view Wednesday when questioned by reporters.

"I believe it's the responsibility of the national government to hold the inquiry," he said. "But I do believe that we have a responsibility when this report comes back, if there are steps that we can take to help this family and we'll look at what those steps may be."

McNeil didn't know when that report might be complete, nor would he say what other options might be considered beyond an inquiry.


Jean Laroche


Jean Laroche has been a CBC reporter since 1987. He's been covering Nova Scotia politics since 1995 and has been at Province House longer than any sitting member.