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Mountie has ‘impression’ Liberal government interfered with N.S. mass shooting probe

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By Michael Tutton in Halifax

A senior Mountie testified Thursday he believes political inference was behind RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki’s determination to have police release details on the guns used in the Nova Scotia mass shooting.

Chief Supt. Chris Leather made the comment at the public inquiry into the rampage that took 22 lives on April 18-19, 2020, during cross-examination by Tom MacDonald, a lawyer who represents two family members of victims.

MacDonald asked if Leather believed, after the officer participated in a teleconference with Lucki shortly after the shootings, that the commissioner’s comments reflected political interference in the criminal probe underway at the time.

Leather responded, “That’s my impression,” and he said he came to that conclusion after gathering the facts about the “lead-up” to the meeting with Lucki.

RCMP Chief Supt. Darren Campbell has alleged that during a meeting on April 28, 2020, Lucki said she promised the Prime Minister’s Office that the information on the guns would be released in connection with the Liberal government’s “pending gun control legislation.”

The government was in the midst of drafting fresh gun control measures to reduce access to semi-automatic weapons in the days following the mass shooting. Campbell and Leather both testified this week that releasing the information on the guns would have interfered with the ongoing investigation into who provided the killer with the semi-automatic weapons.

Leather, who is the head of criminal operations in Nova Scotia, testified on Wednesday that he had received a call on the evening of April 22 — three days after the mass shooting — from Lucki and that she had asked him to send her details about the guns. The superintendent has said that a list of guns he had sent to Lucki was for internal purposes only.

Leather’s statement about the April 22 call with Lucki, and about a series of emails that followed, didn’t come up in a July 6 interview he gave to inquiry lawyers.

During cross-examination Thursday by Michael Scott — a lawyer who represents the majority of the victims’ families — Leather said he hadn’t discussed the call or the emails on July 6 because lawyers with the federal Department of Justice had suggested he take “a reactive posture.”

“The advice I received was not to proactively disclose the conversation (with Lucki) and the emails leading up to the meeting on April 28, (2020),” Leather testified.

“I knew from my notes and emails I had prepared and submitted that it was obviously relevant to what would become the infamous phone call (meeting) of April 28 … and was troubled by that and wanted their advice and was advised to take a reactive posture.”

Lori Ward, a lawyer for the federal Justice Department and the RCMP, told commissioners Thursday she believed there had been a “misunderstanding” from Leather about that advice. She said she and another federal lawyer had understood that Leather had a document relevant to the April 28, 2020, meeting with Lucki that they needed to review because it might contain privileged information.

Lucki has denied interfering in the police investigation. She testified Monday before a House of Commons committee that she didn’t recall telling then-public safety minister Bill Blair that she had “promised” to have the details on the guns released. She said she remembered using different words with Blair.

Leather also faced questions from lawyers representing victims’ families about his force’s poor relationship with other police forces before the mass shooting, and in the two years since then.

Truro police Chief Dave MacNeil testified in May that on the night of the mass shooting, the information coming from RCMP had been “very sporadic” and that Truro police “didn’t really have a tasking.”

Leather said it wasn’t feasible to have close collaboration with the Truro police during a lengthy and complex emergency, because the two forces hadn’t trained together for mass shooting scenarios.

However, lawyer Josh Bryson asked Leather why the RCMP didn’t at least call on municipal police forces to assist in canvassing the community of Portapique, N.S., on April 19, 2020, to see if there were more victims. It took the RCMP close to 18 hours from the start of the mass shooting to locate five of the victims’ bodies.

The 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 to the safety of Nova Scotians that this be remedied.

Leather said he was hopeful a major change in management of Nova Scotia RCMP would help decrease tensions.

He said he is being transferred to national headquarters in August to take on a new role, while the assistant commissioner at the time, Lee Bergerman, has retired, and Chief Supt. Darren Campbell was recently transferred to New Brunswick.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 28, 2022.

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Alberta

Fatality inquiry begins into death of Calgary teen who weighed 37 pounds

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CALGARY — An Alberta judge is looking for answers in the case of a 15-year-old boy who died in his Calgary home weighing less than 37 pounds.

Alexandru Radita died in May 2013 of bacterial sepsis brought on by complications due to untreated diabetes and starvation.

His parents, who had moved from B.C. to Alberta, were found guilty in 2017 of first-degree murder.

Witnesses at the trial testified that the Raditas refused to accept their son had diabetes, failed to treat his disease and kept him isolated at home.

Alberta provincial court Judge Sharon Van de Veen said Monday the fatality inquiry will seek to find out what could have been done to save the boy’s life and prevent other cases like this from happening again.

There were government officials involved throughout this child’s life, including child and family services in the province of British Columbia and doctors and pharmacists,” Van de Veen said.

“I will not be reviewing the facts relating to the horror of this child’s life. My purpose is going to be to review to what extent the state itself could have intervened in the life of this child to save his life.”

Van de Veen said the inquiry, which is scheduled to run all week, will see if protocols between the children’s services ministries in Alberta and B.C. would help in similar cases. She also questioned if a pharmacists association could provide assistance when insulin is accessed sporadically for patients.

The first day of the inquiry focused on whether Alex’s lack of attendance in his home-schooling could have alerted officials.

He was enrolled in a Catholic home-schooling program in September 2009 for Grade 5, but not a single piece of work from him was submitted. Teachers and a principal attempted to contact his parents through phone calls and letters throughout the school year but were not able to reach them.

Michel Despins, vice-principal of the School of Hope online school, said 25 attempts were made to reach the Raditas. Neither Alex nor his three siblings ever submitted school work.

Despins said there are now electronic records for each student, but any information about a student not registering is only available in Alberta.

Despins offered some possible solutions, including that a previous school board get an alert if a student is no longer registered anywhere.

He said there needs to be a protocol on what to do if that happens and parents can’t be reached.

“If in September we get an alert and we contact the parents and they register somewhere else, no problem. But if they do not, what’s the standard protocol to do with that?” he asked.

“Do you submit it to social services?”

Van de Veen said the inquiry will only hear from witnesses from Alberta, even though there were protection orders for Alex in place in B.C.

Emil Radita, Alex’s father, is watching the proceedings from prison in B.C.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 19, 2022.

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Pressfficials involved throughout this child’s life, including child and family services in the province of British Columbia and doctors and pharmacists,” Van de Veen said.

“I will not be reviewing the facts relating to the horror of this child’s life. My purpose is going to be to review to what extent the state itself could have intervened in the life of this child to save his life.”

Van de Veen said the inquiry, which is scheduled to run all week, will see if protocols between the children’s services ministries in Alberta and B.C. would help in similar cases. She also questioned if a pharmacists association could provide assistance when insulin is accessed sporadically for patients.

The first day of the inquiry focused on whether Alex’s lack of attendance in his home-schooling could have alerted officials.

He was enrolled in a Catholic home-schooling program in September 2009 for Grade 5, but not a single piece of work from him was submitted. Teachers and a principal attempted to contact his parents through phone calls and letters throughout the school year but were not able to reach them.

Michel Despins, vice-principal of the School of Hope online school, said 25 attempts were made to reach the Raditas. Neither Alex nor his three siblings ever submitted school work.

Despins said there are now electronic records for each student, but any information about a student not registering is only available in Alberta.

Despins offered some possible solutions, including that a previous school board get an alert if a student is no longer registered anywhere.

He said there needs to be a protocol on what to do if that happens and parents can’t be reached.

“If in September we get an alert and we contact the parents and they register somewhere else, no problem. But if they do not, what’s the standard protocol to do with that?” he asked.

“Do you submit it to social services?”

Van de Veen said the inquiry will only hear from witnesses from Alberta, even though there were protection orders for Alex in place in B.C.

Emil Radita, Alex’s father, is watching the proceedings from prison in B.C.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 19, 2022.

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

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Crime

Day parole extended for woman who killed Victoria teenager Reena Virk 25 years ago

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Vancouver – Day parole has been extended for a woman convicted of murdering Victoria teenager Reena Virk almost 25 years ago.

A Parole Board of Canada decision says 40-year-old Kerry Sim, who was formerly known as Kelly Ellard, has been authorized to remain on day parole but with numerous conditions.

Sim was 15 years old when she and a group of teenagers swarmed and beat Virk, and her trial heard she and a co-accused later followed the 14-year-old girl to continue the beating and drown her in the Gorge waterway.

The parole board’s decision, released Friday, says Sim has remained focused on her two sons since her parole was revoked for two months last year over a positive drug test, her confession that she’d sipped wine and indications of mutual violence in her relationship with her partner.

Day parole was reinstated last October and the two-member panel now says Sim has made progress in her reintegration, although there’s concern that when she’s faced with multiple stressors it can result in poor decision-making.

In addition to conditions imposed not to consume drugs or alcohol and not to have contact with certain people, the board ordered Sim to follow psychiatric treatment to address her anxiety and other mental health issues.

The board also suggests that she look for employment, saying in the decision that she seems reluctant to move ahead with the steps necessary to find work.

Sim’s case management team also recommended her day parole be extended, the decision says.

“You have positive community support from your mother, (community residential) staff, and the family of your partner. The same special conditions currently in place are recommended for this new period of day parole.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 16, 2022.

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september, 2022

tue27sep10:00 am4:00 pmCACPC Annual SHRED Event10:00 am - 4:00 pm MST The Central Alberta Crime Prevention Centre, 4311-49 Ave Event Organized By: The Central Alberta Crime Prevention Centre

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