A senior RCMP official testified Thursday that he believed political inference was behind RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki’s determination to ask police to release details of the weapons used during the of the mass shootings in Nova Scotia.
Supt. Chris Leather made the comment during the public inquiry into the rampage which claimed the lives of 22 people on April 18 and 19, 2020, during cross-examination by Tom MacDonald, a lawyer who represents two family members of the victims .
MacDonald asked if Leather believed, after the officer participated in a teleconference with Lucki shortly after the shooting, that the commissioner’s comments reflected political interference in the criminal investigation underway at the time.
Leather replied, “That’s my impression,” and he said he came to that conclusion after gathering the facts about “preparing” to meet Lucki.
RCMP Chief Superintendent. Darren Campbell alleged that during a meeting on April 28, 2020, Lucki said she had promised the Prime Minister’s Office that gun information would be released as part of the “pending control law firearms” of the Liberal government.
The government was drafting new gun control measures to reduce access to semi-automatic weapons in the days following the mass shootings. Campbell and Leather both testified this week that releasing the gun information would have interfered with the ongoing investigation into who provided the killer with the semi-automatic weapons.
Leather, who is Nova Scotia’s chief of criminal operations, testified Wednesday that he received a call on the evening of April 22 – three days after the mass shooting – from Lucki and that she asked him to send their contact details. about guns. The manager said a list of guns he sent to Lucki was for internal purposes only.
Leather’s statement about the April 22 call with Lucki and a series of subsequent emails was not mentioned in a July 6 interview he gave to the attorneys handling the case. ‘investigation.
During cross-examination Thursday by Michael Scott — an attorney who represents the majority of victims’ families — Leather said he did not discuss the July 6 call or emails because department attorneys federal Justice had suggested to him to take “a reactive posture.”
“The advice I received was to proactively withhold the conversation (with Lucki) and emails leading up to the April 28 (2020) meeting,” Leather said.
“I knew from my notes and emails that I had prepared and submitted that this was obviously relevant to what would become the infamous April 28 phone call (meeting) and I was troubled by it and I wanted their advice and I was advised to take a reactive stance.”
Lori Ward, a lawyer with the federal Department of Justice and the RCMP, told commissioners Thursday that she believed there had been a “misunderstanding” by Leather about the advice. She said she and another federal attorney understood that Leather had a document relating to the April 28, 2020, meeting with Lucki that they needed to review because it may contain inside information.
Lucki denied any interference in the police investigation. She testified before a House of Commons committee on Monday that she did not recall telling then-Public Safety Minister Bill Blair that she had “promised” to release the details of the firearms. fire. She said she remembered using different words with Blair.
Leather was also questioned by attorneys representing the victims’ families about his force’s poor relationship with other police forces before the mass shooting and in the two years since.
Truro Police Chief Dave MacNeil testified in May that on the night of the mass shooting reports from the RCMP had been ‘very sporadic’ and that Truro Police ‘didn’t really have a mission’ “.
Leather said it was not possible to have close cooperation with Truro Police during a long and complex emergency because the two forces had not trained together for mass shooting scenarios.
However, attorney Josh Bryson asked Leather why the RCMP did not at least bring in municipal police forces to help survey the community of Portapique, Nova Scotia on April 19, 2020, to see if there were more victims. It has taken the RCMP almost 18 hours since the start of the shooting to locate five of the bodies of the victims.
The police officer agreed with Jane Lenehan, a lawyer who represents the family of victim Gina Goulet, that during his tenure, relations with municipal police forces had deteriorated and that it was essential for the safety of Nova Scotians to ‘remediate.
Leather said he hopes a major change in the management of the RCMP in Nova Scotia will help reduce tensions.
He said he will move to national headquarters in August to take on a new role, as then-assistant commissioner Lee Bergerman retired and chief superintendent. Darren Campbell was recently transferred to New Brunswick.
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on July 28, 2022.
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