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RCMP Commish Berated Subordinates Who Refused to Push Trudeau Gun Control Narrative After Nova Scotia Massacre

Neil lives in Canada and writes about society and politics.
Published: June 22, 2022
The RCMP Commissioner berated staff who wouldn't use the 2020 Nova Scotia massacre to push Trudeau's gun control agenda in the media.
Flags of Nova Scotia and Canada fly at half-staff outside the Nova Scotia Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) headquarters in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia in April of 2020 after a massacre that killed 22 people. New reports show that RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki berated subordinates after they refused to undermine the investigation by chattering to the media about the weapons the shooter used. (Image: TIM KROCHAK/AFP via Getty Images)

The Commissioner of Canada’s federal police force, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), brought subordinates to tears after they didn’t want to make public details of the firearms used by a mass murderer while the investigation was still in its infancy. 

The details were made public in a June 21 article by the Halifax Examiner based on new documents revealed during an inquiry of a two day, April of 2020 Nova Scotia crime spree by Gabriel Wortman that saw 16 buildings burned to the ground and 23 deaths, including his own.

The article encapsulated its thesis in its lede paragraph, “RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki ‘made a promise’ to Public Safety Minister Bill Blair and the Prime Minister’s Office to leverage the mass murders of April 18/19, 2020 to get a gun control law passed.”

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The conflict arose after RCMP Superintendent Darren Campbell told the media on April 28 that he “couldn’t get into details” on the firearms used by Wortman “because the investigation is still active and ongoing.”

The Examiner explained the quandary for the unfamiliar, “The Trudeau government’s gun control objectives were spelled out in an order in council issued in May 2020, and were encapsulated in Bill C-21, which was tabled last month, but the concern in April 2020 was the extent to which politics threatened to interfere with a cross-border police investigation into how the killer managed to obtain and smuggle into Canada four illegal guns used to commit many of the 22 murders.”

A June 21 document released by the Mass Casualty Commission, the body conducting the inquiry into the massacre, revealed that after Campbell made the comments to the media, he, along with Assistant Commander Lee Bergerman, Chief Superintendent Chris Leather, and Nova Scotia Communications Director Lia Scanlan were hauled into a teleconference with Lucki “and a deputy from Ottawa.”

According to Campbell’s handwritten notes taken following the meeting, Lucki was abusive to the extent that, “Some in the room were reduced to tears and emotional over this belittling reprimand.”

The notes explained, “The Commissioner was obviously upset. She did not raise her voice but her choice of words was indicative of her overall dissatisfaction with our work.”

Campbell, however, said he “was and remain[s] confused over” how Lucki “accused us (me) of disrespecting her by not following her instructions.”

Lucki “told Comms to tell us at H Division to include specific info about the firearms used by [the killer],” Campbell said.

“However I said we couldn’t because to do so would jeopardize ongoing efforts to advance the U.S. side of the case as well as the Canadian components of the investigation. Those are facts and I stand by them,” he explained.

The article explains that one of the firearms used by Wortman was acquired after he paid a man “to purchase one assault-style rifle at a 2019 gun show in Houlton, Maine,” while two “illegal handguns” were acquired from “a close friend and collector.”

The Examiner states that neither men have been charged, “and it’s still unclear why.”

The statements appear to indicate that federal gun control laws are unlikely to have either mitigated or prevented Wortman from obtaining his weaponry.

The Examiner stated that Commissioner Lucki went on and on about it, saying she was “sad and disappointed” that Campbell didn’t emphasize the firearms used by Wortman so the media could create sensationalized articles and headlines.

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

When Campbell reiterated to Lucki that the information could not be released because it would compromise the investigation, “The Commissioner then said that we didn’t understand, that this was tied to pending gun control legislation that would make officers and the public safer,” his notes stated.

Director Lia Scanlan’s comments were even sharper because Lucki and Leather not only continually contradicted the RCMP’s official messaging to the media, but continually changed the reports of the death count. 

Scanlan was asked by Krista Smith, a lawyer for the MCC, during a February hearing how it could be that Lucki’s messaging was so all over the place. 

“I don’t know, ask National Headquarters,” Scanlan bluntly interrupted the questioning. “The commissioner releases a body count that we (Communications) don’t even have. She went out and did that. It was all political pressure.” 

And continued, “That is 100% Minister Blair and the Prime Minister. And we have a Commissioner that does not push back.”