Tories Say Minister, RCMP Commissioner ‘Lied’ About Not Interfering in NS Shooting Probe, Should Resign

Tories Say Minister, RCMP Commissioner ‘Lied’ About Not Interfering in NS Shooting Probe, Should Resign
Conservative Party Public Safety critic Raquel Dancho speaks with reporters in the Foyer of the House of Commons, in Ottawa, Oct. 21, 2022. (The Canadian Press/Adrian Wyld)
Peter Wilson

Conservatives say cabinet minister Bill Blair and RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki “lied” about not having politically interfered in the RCMP’s investigation into the 2020 Nova Scotia mass shootings, adding that they should resign.

On Oct. 20, the Mass Casualty Commission made public a recorded phone call from April 28, 2020, during which Lucki says she was “very frustrated” after her staff failed to include information about the guns used in the shootings in a news release and in press conference speaking notes.

About 10 days before the phone call, a gunman had killed 22 people in the village of Portapique, N.S., and several nearby communities, on April 18 and 19, 2020.

Lucki said that then-public safety minister Bill Blair had made “the simplest of requests” to have the information disseminated about the firearms used in the shooting. Blair is currently the emergency preparedness minister.
At the time, the Liberal government had gun control legislation that was pending. On May 1, 2020, just three days after that phone call, the federal government announced a ban on 1,500 types of “assault-style” firearms.
“It’s disheartening for me to try to manage our RCMP, which is bigger than Nova Scotia, and trying to at least give the prime minister a bit of information before he hears it on the news,” Lucki said in the phone call.
Shortly after the recording was made public, Conservative Party MP and public safety Raquel Dancho posted a video on Twitter of Blair denying allegations of politically interfering in the investigation while testifying before the House of Commons public safety committee on July 25.
“Let me be very clear,” said Blair. “At no time did I ask Commissioner Lucki to reveal that information. At no time did I direct her in any way on communications. She did not make any promise to me.”
Dancho wrote in the same Twitter post: “Listened to the new audio of Lucki. She says the Ministers (Sic) office requested the info about guns be released & she confirms to the Minister that it would be. But in committee the Minister denied he made this request and denied knowing about it at all.”

“The Minister lied.”

Lucki told a parliamentary committee on July 25 that she wasn’t directed by the government to release the firearms information but that she was asked by Blair’s chief of staff if she would do so.

“Asking questions is not interference,” she said at the July 25 committee meeting. “I can clearly say that I was not interfered with, I was not directed, and I did not cross any line.”

Lucki has confirmed that she did use the word “promise” in the April 28, 2020, meeting but said it was a miscommunication.

“I was trying to convey that I’d already confirmed to the minister that the information about the weapons would be released during the press conference, a confirmation made based on the information I had been provided,” she said.

She added that the “miscommunication” resulted in her providing inaccurate information to her superiors.

“I felt I had misinformed the minister and by extension, the prime minister.”

Blair, who testified at the same committee before Lucki, said he had not directed the RCMP to release “any specific information nor did I receive a promise for them to do so.”

“I want to make it very clear: At no point did I direct the RCMP in any operational matter, including on public communications,” he said.

‘Jeopardized the Investigation’

Dancho also called for both Blair and Lucki to resign from their respective positions.

“The minister and the commissioner lied and violated the independence of the RCMP and jeopardized the investigation into the worst mass killing in Canadian history,” she said at a press conference on Parliament Hill on Oct. 21.

“We do not have confidence in this minister to hold any position in this government, and he should resign immediately along with the RCMP commissioner.”

Lucki has previously denied receiving political pressure from the federal government to release details about the guns used in the April 2020 shootings.

“I did not interfere in the investigation around this tragedy, nor did I experience political interference,” Lucki told the public safety committee on July 25.
“Specifically, I was not directed to publicly release information about weapons used by the perpetrator to help advance pending gun control legislation,” she said.
In the recorded phone call, Lucki referred to the then-pending gun restrictions, saying, “They’re [the government] in the middle of trying to get a legislation going.”

“That legislation is supposed to actually help police, and the fact that the very little information I asked to be put in speaking notes at around 11:30 this morning … could not be accommodated.”

Lucki asked afterward, “Does anybody wonder why I feel frustrated?”

Conservative MP and emergency preparedness critic Dane Lloyd said Lucki’s previous committee testimonies contradicted her words on the recorded phone call.

“Lucki pressured her subordinates to release information on an active investigation to help advance Liberal gun legislation,” Lloyd wrote in a Twitter post on Oct. 20.

“She received a request to do this from the Ministers (sic) office.”

Lloyd called Lucki’s previous committee testimony “completely false.”

“This was not just about ‘keeping the Government informed,’” Lloyd wrote. “This was about politicizing the RCMP to advance the Liberals partisan political agenda.”

“The politicization of the RCMP under this Commissioner is unacceptable.”

 Noé Chartier contributed to this report.