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Burton Winters, Humber Valley Paving inquiries still possible

Burton Winters
Burton Winters

Province not ruling out side-by-side processes: Parsons

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador has just set the terms for an inquiry that will run beyond the next general election, but Justice Minister Andrew Parsons isn’t ruling out more to come.

The governing Liberals committed to multiple inquiries while still on the campaign trail in 2015. More commitments have come since they took office.

An Inquiry Respecting the Death of Donald Dunphy was completed earlier this year and has informed proposed legislation for establishing a serious incident response team (SIRT) in the province.

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An announced inquiry into the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project fulfils another commitment of the government, but raises the question of what might happen with the rest.

In September, the family of Burton Winters publicly called on the government to call the promised inquiry into the 14-year-old boy’s death. The Liberals promised the inquiry — involving a look at search and rescue capabilities — during their 2015 election campaign.

In response to the Winters family, Parsons said the provincial government is awaiting the outcome of a review by the Senate of search and rescue capabilities.

On Monday, outside of the House of Assembly, Parsons again told reporters he did not want to double up on fact-finding efforts and believed the Senate’s review could ultimately inform any look at Winters’ 2012 death.

“Our intention is obviously to still have that inquiry. We have every intention of doing that,” Parsons said.

On Humber Valley Paving and an examination into roadwork contracting, Parsons also would not discount the possibility of having the inquiry start while the Muskrat Falls inquiry is ongoing.

“We’ve been very preoccupied over the last number of weeks and months in getting this (Muskrat Falls inquiry terms) done, ever since the premier made the announcement,” he said. “We want to move this forward.”

The province has also committed to an inquiry on the status of Innu children in care, requiring input from multiple governments. A memorandum of understanding with Innu leaders on that inquiry was announced in July. The terms of reference for the inquiry were to be sent to the federal government for review.

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