Head of RCMP testifies before N.S. mass shooting inquiry

The head of the RCMP is testifying today before the public inquiry into the Nova Scotia mass shooting, following weeks of controversy around whether she was under political pressure to release information about the gunman's firearms ahead of the Liberal government's gun control legislation.

Commissioner Brenda Lucki is speaking Tuesday in Halifax

The head of the RCMP is testifying today before the public inquiry into the Nova Scotia mass shooting, following weeks of controversy around whether she was under political pressure to release information about the gunman's firearms ahead of the Liberal government's gun control legislation.

Commissioner Brenda Lucki is facing questions from the Mass Casualty Commission leading the inquiry in Halifax.

The webcast streaming the testimony can be found here.

The political controversy began in June when Chief Supt. Darren Campbell's notes from a call on April 28, 2020, with Lucki and members of the Nova Scotia RCMP were released as part of the inquiry.

Campbell wrote the commissioner was "sad and disappointed" and "had promised the minister of public safety and the Prime Minister's Office that the RCMP, [we] would release this information."

He repeated this assertion earlier this month before a House of Commons committee, saying that Lucki seemed to dismiss his argument that releasing specifics of the makes and models of the firearms could impact the ongoing investigation.

Bill Blair, who was public safety minister at the time, has denied ever asking Lucki to pressure the RCMP to make the information about the guns public. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said the government did not put any "undue" pressure on the RCMP.

Issue due to miscommunication: Lucki

Lucki has told the House of Commons public safety and national security committee that things went sideways following a miscommunication between herself and Nova Scotia RCMP.

Ahead of Campbell's news conference on April 28, 2020, Lucki said Blair's chief of staff asked her whether the gun details would be released publicly. Lucki said she checked with her national RCMP communications team, which told her the details would be released.

Lucki relayed that information back to Blair's office and the deputy minister of public safety. But when the gun details weren't released, Lucki was upset because "I felt I had misinformed the minister and, by extension, the prime minister."

The details of the firearms only became public through a briefing note given to the prime minister by Lucki, which surfaced through an access to information request.

Despite a request from the Nova Scotia Mounties that the firearm information be shared only internally to the RCMP, emails show Lucki sent those details to the offices of the public safety minister and the national security adviser to the prime minister.

Earlier Tuesday, the commissioner finished questioning retired assistant commissioner Lee Bergerman, who was commanding officer of the Nova Scotia RCMP at the time of the mass shooting.

The inquiry also learned Tuesday that the federal Department of Justice had not yet disclosed a year of Bergerman's notes to the commission, following a pattern of late disclosure and holding back pages of documents to check for privilege.

Lori Ward, a lawyer for the department, said that while they had collected and shared Bergerman's notes up until October 2020, it took some time to gather the remaining notebooks between that point and her retirement in October 2021.

"I regret the situation," Ward said.

The commission had set aside Tuesday and Wednesday to hear from Lucki.

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Haley Ryan

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Haley Ryan is a reporter based in Halifax. Got a story idea? Send an email to haley.ryan@cbc.ca, or reach out on Twitter @hkryan17.

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