Premier Kathy Dunderdale speaks to the media following question period Wednesday afternoon. — Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram
Accusations continue to fly back and forth in the House of Assembly over who is to blame for the death of 14-year-old Burton Winters on the Labrador sea ice earlier this year.
On Wednesday, Premier Kathy Dunderdale and Liberal Leader Dwight Ball each accused the other of politicizing the issue.
“They’re playing politics, and it breaks my heart, to be quite honest with you,” Dunderdale told reporters. “We have a family who are listening to this day in and day out.
“I can’t imagine how they must feel.”
Ball said that accusation was “shameful” and House leader Yvonne Jones added it was Dunderdale who was politicizing the issue.
On Monday, Ball, Jones and Labrador MHA Randy Edmunds went to Ottawa for meetings and public events to draw attention to the Burton Winters case.
Burton became lost on the sea ice in late January. After his snowmobile got stuck, he walked 19 kilometres before succumbing to the cold.
It is unclear why the military declined to send a Cormorant helicopter to aid in the search for Burton.
On Tuesday, when they got back from Ottawa, Ball announced in the House the federal government would support a provincial inquiry into the situation.
Wednesday, Dunderdale said she’d spoken with Defence Minister Peter MacKay, and was told that simply wasn’t the case.
“He believes there’s no need for an inquiry if we have that flow of conversation between the two governments,” Dunderdale said. “What we’re interested in is getting answers for the people of the province, not turning this into a political football.”
Dunderdale said she expects a full explanation for why a Cormorant helicopter wasn’t sent to aid the search by the end of the week, and when she gets it, she’ll share that publicly.
But more and more, Jones has been saying the real fault for the tragedy lies with the provincial government.
“It was the provincial emergency measures operations that were the point of contact between Makkovik and the outside world in this particular search,” Jones said. “The time lapses that we’re looking at are in the court of the provincial government through emergency measures operations.
“This is the reason we’re pressing the premier to do an inquiry into this.”