MPs investigate alleged political interference in Nova Scotia shooting investigation

MPs on the House of Commons Public Safety Committee are meeting Monday to consider whether there was political interference with the RCMP as it investigated the April 2020 shooting in Nova Scotia.

Just over a week after a gunman killed 22 people in a 1 p.m. shootout, RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki held a meeting with senior officers in Nova Scotia that was described by those present as tense.

Supt. Darren Campbell, who was in charge of the investigation, wrote in his notes that Lucki mentioned that he had promised the federal government to release information about the weapons used by the shooter.

Lia Scanlan, director of communications for the RCMP, also told the public inquiry into the shooting that then-Public Safety Minister Bill Blair and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau were “weighing in on what we could and couldn’t say,” although she didn’t elaborate. about what it meant.

Trudeau and Blair have adamantly denied political interference, and Lucki has repeatedly said she feels no pressure from federal authorities.

The committee will hear from Lucki and other senior members of the RCMP at national headquarters, senior Nova Scotia RCMP officers, Blair and Deputy Minister of Public Safety Rob Stewart.

The list of witnesses does not include Scanlan or Campbell, who is due to appear before the public inquiry into the Halifax shooting the same day.

Campbell’s notes note that the meeting with Lucki and several other people at RCMP National Headquarters surprised him.

“I found the press conference to be honest and personable and that we were able to protect the information to protect the integrity of the ongoing investigation,” he wrote.

It’s unclear when the notes were written, though they do refer to the reunion as being in the past.

Campbell wrote that Lucki was “obviously upset”, although she didn’t raise her voice. He said that Lucki accused him of being disrespectful to her by not following instructions, and that this confused him.

He believed that revealing information about the weapons used in the murders would jeopardize the investigation in both Canada and the United States. Gunman Gabriel Wortman smuggled a number of handguns and assault weapons from Maine, including one given to him by a friend. No one in either country has been charged with weapons offenses in this case.

“The commissioner said she promised the Minister of Public Safety and the Prime Minister’s Office that the RCMP (we) would release this information,” Campbell’s notes read.

‘The commissioner then said we didn’t understand, that this was related to ongoing gun control legislation which would make officers and the public safer.’

On May 1, 2020, the federal government announced that it was fulfilling a campaign promise by banning 1,500 types of assault rifles. During the announcement, Trudeau referenced the shooting in Nova Scotia as an example of what the changes were meant to prevent.

At the same press conference, Blair was asked if the list included the type of weapons used by Wortman, and he confirmed that some were, although he did not elaborate. Since the allegations, he said he discussed the investigation of the shootings and gun control measures with Lucki, but that those discussions were separate.

The RCMP also did not release information about the weapons to the public. Media outlets including The Canadian Press were pleading in court at the time to see the information, which was obscured in police documents used to obtain search warrants in the case. The information was finally released through freedom of information legislation in November.

Campbell’s handwritten notes were released as part of the ongoing public inquiry into the shooting. They were attached as an exhibit to a scathing document detailing dozens of instances in which the RCMP concealed or obscured basic information about the case in the three months following the shooting.

This includes the number of victims, their relationship to the shooter, whether a victim was a child, the number of crime scenes, the reason for the first call to 911 the night the killings began, and when police learned that the shooter was disguised as an RCMP officer, among others.

Campbell and Supt. Chris Leather served as the lead spokesperson for the RCMP at six public information sessions held between April 19 and June 4, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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