Blair and Lucki testifying about alleged interference in RCMP probe

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A month after the controversy first made headlines, key players will be testifying Monday as part of a parliamentary probe into allegations of political interference in the RCMP’s investigation of the Nova Scotia mass shooting.

First up as part of today’s Public Safety and National Security Committee’s hearing into the allegations that federal officials put pressure on police in the aftermath of the worst mass shooting in Canadian history to help push forward a new gun ban, will be Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair.

Blair, who during the time period in question was Canada’s public safety minister, will be accompanied by Rob Stewart, deputy minister of the Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.

Then, RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki and Deputy Commissioner Brian Brennan will testify, as will a few other current and former RCMP officials.

The special summer meeting of the committee of MPs was the result of a pre-summer House of Commons hiatus vote, prompted by the opposition parties’ desire for the government to provide a full airing of the facts as they relate to the matter.

According to documents released on June 21 as part of the Mass Casualty Commission, in a meeting 10 days after the 2020 killing rampage that left 22 people dead, lead Mountie Lucki allegedly expressed her disappointment with the Nova Scotia division’s handling of press briefings, because she wanted them to release specific information on the firearms used by the perpetrator.

In handwritten notes, Nova Scotia RCMP superintendent Darren Campbell wrote that Lucki indicated she promised Blair and the prime minister’s office that the RCMP would release this information, and that this was tied to pending gun control legislation intended to make officers and the public safer.

At the time, the Nova Scotia RCMP — which was under heavy scrutiny for its handling of the case from the start — said that releasing additional information would jeopardize the ongoing investigation into the perpetrator’s access to firearms.

Days later, the prime minister announced a ban—through regulations, not legislation— on 1,500 assault-style weapons, including weapons used in the Nova Scotia shooting. Moving forward on gun control measures was a pre-existing Liberal commitment, dating back to their 2019 election campaign.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Blair have repeatedly denied that their government put, as the prime minister has said, “any undue influence or pressure” on the RCMP. Though, Trudeau has said in the immediate aftermath of the mass killing, federal officials did have many questions about what transpired and what information police had.

Lucki has also said she “did not” interfere in this case, but called it a “tense discussion,” writing in a statement at the time the allegations first came to light, that while she regretted how she approached the meeting she would never jeopardize an RCMP investigation.

Asked how Canadians should reconcile the government and Lucki saying there was no interference with what superintendent Campbell wrote based on the meeting he had, Blair has said the superintendent “obviously came to his own conclusions.”

While the RCMP’s Campbell is central to the allegations, he will not be testifying before MPs on Monday as he is testifying before the Mass Casualty Commission.

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