N.S. justice minister walks back controversial comments on domestic violence

Nova Scotia’s Minister of Justice is walking back comments he made about domestic violence Thursday afternoon.

“I made comments that were wrong and have caused pain,” Brad Johns said in a press release. “The pervasiveness of domestic violence and the harm it causes in our communities is not something that should ever be minimized and I am truly sorry that my words did so.”

At Thursday’s Cabinet media availability — and the anniversary of the 2020 Nova Scotia mass shooting — Johns was questioned about the progress being made on recommendations from the Mass Casualty Commission.

One of the recommendations to come out of the public inquiry was to treat domestic violence as an epidemic.

When asked whether or not he agreed with that recommendation, Minister Johns said he did not.

“It’s an issue, there are bigger issues too,” Johns said. “We have issues around guns, we have issues around drugs, we have issues, I mean, there’s a lot of issues…violence in general.”

Johns said he believes an “epidemic” is something “you’re seeing everywhere all the time…I don’t think that’s the case.”

The comments prompted Premier Tim Houston to quickly respond, saying his government takes domestic violence “very seriously.”

“As the mass casualty included in their report, domestic violence is an epidemic in Nova Scotia and in Canada,” said Houson. “The Commission was also clear that it played a role in the tragedy that occurred in 2020 and we will do everything we can to prevent a tragedy like this from ever happening again.”

“We’ll have some discussions with him about what may lead to those comments or what he may have been thinking are understood to be the question,” Houston said.

With files from CityNews’ Natasha O’Neill

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