11/09/2012 12:43 EST | Updated 01/09/2013 05:12 EST

National witness protection needed, Olivia Chow says

Olivia Chow is calling on the federal government to create a national witness protection program in the wake of last summer's mass shooting on Danzig Street.

The NDP MP for Trinity-Spadina says a program national in scope is needed to better protect witnesses to violent crimes.

“I know there’s a code out there, a wall of of silence, but that can be broken and it has been broken before,” she told CBC News. “If they have witnessed a crime, they need to speak out, they need to trust the police.”

Her comments come one day after police laid murder charges against a man in connection with the gang-related Danzig Street shooting that left two people dead and more than 20 injured.

But in announcing the charges on Thursday, police said many who witnesses have not come forward with information about the shooting, which took place outside at a crowded barbecue.

There is a provincial witness protection program but if the crime is federal in nature or involves drugs, the RCMP takes over and charges local police departments the full cost, something many local departments can't afford.

Chow met with police officials Thursday and said there is support for a national witness protection program.