As allegations surface that Bill Blair may have interfered politically with the RCMP following the mass shooting in Nova Scotia, the Secretary for Emergency Preparedness says he will “of course” remain in Cabinet.
Two letters have now emerged alleging Blair urged RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki to demand the release of Nova Scotia RCMP details of the firearms used during the April 18 shooting 2020 22 people lost their lives.
They claim the pressure was linked to the Liberal government’s goals of passing a gun law – claims Blair strenuously denied in a press conference on Wednesday.
“I and my government have given no operational direction or interfered in any way with the investigation or police response,” Blair said.
“At no point did I cross that line.”
Lucki cited “pressure” from Blair amid gunshot probe in Nova Scotia: RCMP officials
A letter from RCMP communications manager Lia Scanlan, released on Tuesday, alleges that Lucki described direct pressure from Blair to release details about firearms in the days after the mass shooting in Nova Scotia.
The letter alleges that the chair of the RCMP focused on the Liberal government’s agenda for passing gun laws during the hastily arranged meeting.
According to Scanlan, who was the strategic communications director at the time of the shooting, Lucki had come to the phone indignant that Halifax staff had not released the gun details, suggesting they had abandoned surviving children whose parents were killed in Portapique became. NS
“It was appalling, inappropriate, unprofessional and extremely derogatory,” Scanlan wrote.
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It is not the first allegation of political pressure in connection with the shooting.
Handwritten notes by Supt. Darren Campbell, released Monday, describe the RCMP fearing the investigation could be jeopardized if they release the full details of the two rifles and two pistols used in the killing spree.
Campbell’s notes further allege that during a meeting on April 28, 2020, Lucki said she had promised the federal Public Safety Agency and the Office of the Prime Minister that information about the shooter’s weapons would be released – because it “is bound by pending laws on the.” gun control are bound.”
While Lucki confirmed on Tuesday that she did indeed receive a letter from an RCMP official about that controversial meeting, she denied attempting to “interfere with the ongoing investigation.”
“Neither have I felt any political pressure to do so,” she added in an emailed statement to The Canadian Press.
“It has been an extremely difficult time and I have expressed my frustration at the flow of information.”
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Less than two weeks after the massacre, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a ban on 1,500 brands and models of “assault-style firearms” – including some used by the Nova Scotia gunman.
That order in Council has been in the works for “several months,” Blair said on Wednesday.
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“The RCMP has of course been involved in these discussions from the beginning as it is responsible for managing Canada’s firearms program,” he added.
However, all of the shooter’s guns were illegally owned. An April report by the Mass Casualty Commission revealed that many of the guns were purchased in the United States and the shooter did not have a gun license.
Meanwhile, the RCMP faced a firestorm of criticism for its handling of communications both during and after the mass shooting in Nova Scotia.
Nova Scotia RCMP under fire
Just before midnight on the day of the shooting, the Nova Scotia RCMP fired a tweet warning Portapique residents of a “firearms complaint” and urging them to stay indoors. It was not stated that there was an active shooter.
Despite a series of 911 calls and eyewitness accounts that night, the RCMP failed to notify the public by the next day that the perpetrator was driving a replica police cruiser.
ANALYSIS: Alleged political interference should not overshadow RCMP communication failures
After sending the tweet, Cpl. Lisa Croteau – the only member of the communications team on call this weekend – said she thinks she fell asleep.
Scanlan, who told the inquiry she was “always available” to respond to a crisis, also slept that night.
Croteau told investigators she tried calling Scanlan multiple times but got her voicemail. She also said she tried to call Scanlan’s deputy, Cindy Bayers, but also got her voicemail.
While officers slept, reports of the killings surfaced on social media – and many Nova Scotians panicked. Some of the victims’ families asked the police for details of their loved ones, to no avail.
“We see on the part of the RCMP … a lack of willingness to provide basic facts and other information that the public has a right to receive,” said Nova Scotia attorney Adam Rodgers.
Bill Blair grilled over possible interference in RCMP investigation into mass shooting in Nova Scotia
This secretive attitude also extended to the media.
Scanlan, who was in charge of the force’s communications strategy after the shooting, said the media’s handling of the shooting made her “disgusted”.
Within days of the shooting, she told investigators that she had turned her office into a “no news zone.”
Blair referenced these communication problems during his press conference on Wednesday.
“We heard very clearly the concerns of the people of Nova Scotia,” he said.
“It is one of the reasons why we have asked (them), under the mandate of the Mass Casualty Commission, to investigate very closely the RCMP’s communications to the people of Nova Scotia during this event and following its aftermath.”
Opposition MPs are calling for an investigation
In a statement released last week, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh called claims that the government may have pressured Lucki to interfere in the investigation into the mass shooting as “very disturbing”.
He called for an investigation.
“These allegations suggest that government pressure risked subverting the investigation into the worst mass shooting in Canadian history for its own political agenda,” he wrote.
“Canadians need to be able to trust their institutions. The idea that this government – any government – would use this horrific act of mass murder to gain support for its gun policy is totally unacceptable.”
RCMP, Liberals deny they interfered in Nova Scotia shooting investigations to push gun laws
A number of Conservative MPs also released a joint statement expressing concern over the claims.
“The separation of political institutions from our law enforcement is crucial. Our police must be able to do their important work without politicians trying to direct or influence them in any way,” they wrote in the June 22 statement.
The allegations are “serious and shocking,” they added, and “deserve answers.”
“Therefore we want an immediate investigation into the matter.”
Meanwhile, the public inquiry into the mass shooting continues.
– with files by Brian Hill and Sean Boynton of Global News, The Canadian Press
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https://globalnews.ca/news/8955606/rcmp-mass-shooting-nova-scotia-blair-lucki-political-interference-guns/ Mass shooting in Nova Scotia: Blair will ‘of course’ remain in Cabinet amid claims of interference – National