RCMP officer, communications officer stands by allegations of political interference | Panda Anku




Sarah Ritchie, The Canadian Press



Published Tuesday, August 16, 2022 5:26 pm EDT





Last updated on Tuesday, August 16, 2022 5:22 pm EDT

OTTAWA – The two people who have raised allegations of political interference in the investigation into a killing spree in Nova Scotia are standing by their memories.

Chief Supt. Darren Campbell and former RCMP Strategic Communications Director Lia Scanlan were among witnesses testifying before the House of Commons Public Safety Committee on Tuesday.

The committee is sorting out conflicting reports about whether RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki was under pressure from the federal government to ensure the Mounties released details about the guns used in the 13-hour shooting spree that killed 23 people, including the gunman .

A number of Nova Scotia RCMP officers say Lucki verbally abused them nine days after the killings.

Campbell’s handwritten notes of an April 28, 2020 meeting say Lucki told them she had promised then-Secretary for Public Safety Bill Blair that information about the firearms would be released at a press conference that day and that it connected with the coming gun law.

Lucki said she did not become involved in the investigation but was frustrated with the Nova Scotia Division’s communications with the public because the media reported facts before the RCMP released them.

“I convened the meeting to express my frustration and disappointment,” she told the committee in July.

Campbell told MPs on the committee Tuesday that Lucki “made me feel stupid” and as if he didn’t understand the importance of making the information public.

The RCMP’s communications with the public and victims’ families during and after the shooting were closely scrutinized. A public inquiry ongoing in Nova Scotia was commissioned to investigate this issue, including in relation to the shootings and police response.

Campbell said he couldn’t release the makes and models of the guns because it “would have a negative impact on the ongoing investigation.”

“There were investigative objectives, which included investigating other people who may have assisted (shooter) Gabriel Wortman in some way,” Campbell said.

At the time, the RCMP was working with the FBI and other agencies to figure out how Wortman was able to smuggle guns out of the United States.

Scanlan said she felt Lucki didn’t care about the risk to the investigation.

No one has ever been charged with helping Wortman obtain or smuggle these firearms, either in Canada or the United States.

The committee has also focused on whether Lucki should have turned over that gun inventory to government officials in late April.

Documents released by the public inquiry show that she shared this inventory with Blair’s office on April 23, stating that it should not be shared beyond the minister and prime minister.

But Campbell said he didn’t think it was appropriate for her to do so.

“From my understanding, the directive was pretty clear that (the weapons information) could not be shared outside of the RCMP,” he said.

That direction, according to Campbell and Chief Supt. Chris Leather, who also testified before the committee in July, came from Nova Scotia’s police watchdog, the Serious Incident Response Team, known as SIRT.

SIRT was investigating the police killing of the shooter. Campbell and Leather say the SIRT director told them the weapons inventory could only be released internally based on this investigation.

But Pat Curran, who was director of SIRT as of April 2020, told The Canadian Press in an email that the gunman’s weapons were not part of the watchdog’s investigation and he had given no instructions to the RCMP.

“I did not consider the control of disclosure of weapons information to be a SIRT issue. The disclosure or non-disclosure of this information had no impact on the matters SIRT was investigating,” Curran said.

In their testimony, Blair and Lucki adamantly denied that the federal government was pressuring the RCMP commissioner. Meanwhile, Nova Scotia RCMP officials, including former Deputy Commissioner Lee Bergerman, have steadfastly stated that Lucki is under pressure and that she expressed it at the April 28 meeting.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on August 16, 2022.

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