In an interview with CBC’s David Cochrane, federal intergovernmental affairs minister Peter Penashue called Premier Kathy Dunderdale’s bluff about a public inquiry into the death of Burton Winters.
"This is a legally initiated process and everyone would have to co-operate."
Dunderdale has criticised the federal government over Winters’ death. That’s despite Dunderdale acknowledging – eventually – that provincial officials had responsibility for conducting the search for Winters when he went missing. As recently as Tuesday, Dunderdale continued to try and smear Winters’ blood on federal officials.
The day after her most recent efforts to use the Winters tragedy for her own political ends, Dunderdale deflected calls for a public inquiry by accusing the opposition of doing the same thing. Dunderdale claimed she has reviewed all the information available and concluded there is no need for a provincial inquiry.
As CBC reported, Dunderdale claimed in March that
“I have no authority to institute an inquiry into the federal government's activities to have access to the kind of information that we would need.”
However, Penashue put an end to that dodge on Wednesday. Dunderdale can call into the events in Makkovik under the province’s Public Inquiries Act. Dunderdale should have no concern about the provincial role in the search since she has already satisfied herself that they acted properly.
Since federal officials played a role in the search for Winters, a provincial inquiry could review the role federal agencies played. Now that Penashue has indicated the federal officials would co-operate, Dunderdale could end the controversy and presumably confirm her own accusations about federal involvement by calling a provincial public inquiry.