“If a gunman is on the loose, an emergency alert should be sent out to warn Nova Scotians.”
That’s the message Murray Ryan, Progressive Conservative MLA for Northside-Westmount, is bringing to the provincial Liberal government after an alleged shooter remained at-large in the Northside area for over an hour on Saturday.
“The alert system needs a big fix in this province,” Ryan continued. “It’s clearly broken.”
After two people were shot, Cape Breton Regional Police put out a warning on social media and requested a message of caution be communicated via the provincial emergency alert system. The social media post went live immediately.
Fifty minutes after the request was sent to the Emergency Management Office, the alert had yet to be sent. By then, the suspect had been apprehended.
“Solely relying upon social media isn’t a reliable way to convey a serious message,” said Ryan. “The reason the emergency alert system exists is to warn people of a threat and ensure that the message gets to their phones and their televisions immediately, not when they decide to browse social media.”
“The police did their part, but the Liberal government has to take some responsibility for failing to do theirs.”
Nova Scotia PC leader Tim Houston says that the failure to send out alerts is putting lives at risk.
“The alert system can literally save lives in these situations, but only if it is timely and responsive,” said Houston. “The Liberals must explain why our current system is not.”
Houston, Ryan and the Progressive Conservative Caucus have previously committed to pushing the government to fix the emergency alert system when the legislature resumes. The system is also expected to be a key subject of the provincial inquiry into the mass shooting, but terms of reference for that inquiry have not yet been released.
“There is nothing more important than warning Nova Scotians,” said Houston. “If the police make a request of this nature to the government, there should be no time wasted.”