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Lucki’s gun call wasn’t political interference but new rules are needed: N.S. mass shooting report

A report on the 2020 mass shooting in Nova Scotia says then-RCMP commissioner Brenda Lucki’s infamous call to local Mounties was “ill-timed and poorly expressed” — but did not amount to political interference.

The sprawling report calls for clearer guardrails between Ottawa and the RCMP, saying last summer’s scandal “illustrates that misunderstandings about police operational responsibility and ministerial policy responsibility persist within the RCMP and in broader public conversation in Canada.”

“In a matter as fundamental to democracy as police/government relations, the police, the government and the public are not well served when they depend on convention alone,” says the executive summary to the Mass Casualty Commission report.

Lucki, who retired earlier this month, was at the centre of claims that the federal government interfered politically with RCMP operations in order to boost the Liberal government’s planned gun control legislation.

RCMP Supt. Darren Campbell and three other Nova Scotia officials have testified that Lucki reprimanded them during a phone call on April 28, 2020 for not offering information at a news conference earlier that day about the makes and models of the guns that were used in the killings just a few days earlier.

On a recording of that call, made public last fall, Lucki raises the Liberal government’s intention at the time to introduce firearms legislation. 

“Does anybody realize what’s going on in the world of handguns and guns right now?” she says on the call.

“The fact that they’re in the middle of trying to get a legislation going, the fact that 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?”

The allegations lead to multiple parliamentary committees and calls from the federal Conservatives for Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair to resign.

“Lucki’s audio recorded remarks about the benefits to police of proposed firearms legislation were ill-timed and poorly expressed, but they were not partisan and they do not show that there had been attempted political interference,” says the report’s executive summary.

Report says RCMP Act needs to change

The commission says that call contributed to the deterioration of the relationship between the Nova Scotia division and RCMP national headquarters after the shooting.

“The anger and disappointment of H Division personnel who attended the meeting did not resolve with time,” says the report. 

The commissioners called for changes to clarify the relationship between the commissioner and the minister.

WATCH | Calls for an RCMP overhaul in N.S. mass shooting report

luckis gun call wasnt political interference but new rules are needed n s mass shooting report

Calls for an RCMP overhaul in N.S. mass shooting report

16 hours ago

Duration 17:10

Three years after 22 people were killed in a mass shooting in Nova Scotia, an inquiry has condemned the RCMPs response, calling for a major overhaul of the force.

The RCMP Act says the commissioner serves “under the direction of the minister” but “has the control and management of the force.”

The commissioners suggest changing the wording so that directions from the minister are put in writing and then made public in Parliament within a few days.

The recommendation echoes what Lucki told the Emergencies Act inquiry last fall.

“I think it’s time that we put something to writing that outlines the what you can and cannot do from both the commissioner’s perspective and the politicians,” she said under questioning.

“I think it’s time to clarify, because it’s been a topic of conversation.”

That legislative change is just one of 130 changes recommended by the commissioners as part of their work reviewing the events leading up to the horrific weekend in 2020 when a gunman killed 22 people, and how the RCMP responded.

The scathing report denounced the RCMP for failing to warn community members of the danger they were in, depriving them of potentially life-saving information. 

It called out a lack of preparation, a lack of communication and a lack of leadership.

The commissioners say the RCMP is in need of a fundamental change, noting that other commissions and reports in the past have called for reform, without success.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters that changes would be made but said the government would “digest” the recommendations first.

The interim commissioner of the RCMP and the top Mountie in Nova Scotia also said they would read the recommendations.