MPs to hear more testimony about alleged political meddling in N.S. shooting probe
By Sarah Ritchie in Ottawa
Two of the people behind an accusation of political interference in the investigation of the April 2020 mass shooting in Nova Scotia will be before a House of Commons committee Tuesday.
RCMP Chief Supt. Darren Campbell and Lia Scanlan, a strategic communications director, each accused Commissioner Brenda Lucki of saying she faced pressure from the federal government to ensure information about the gunman’s weapons was released at a news conference.
Campbell’s handwritten notes about a phone call with Lucki, Scanlan and others hours after the news conference on April 28, 2020, say Lucki mentioned she’d made a promise to the minister, and that the weapons information was connected to upcoming gun legislation.
Then-public safety minister Bill Blair was accused of applying that pressure, but he and Lucki have repeatedly denied that he interfered in the investigation.
The 13-hour rampage by a gunman took 22 lives and is now the subject of a public inquiry.
Scanlan wrote a letter to the commissioner more than a year after the shootings, echoing Campbell’s concerns and telling Lucki the meeting was “appalling, inappropriate, unprofessional and extremely belittling.”
The public safety committee looking into the allegations has heard conflicting reports — from Lucki and other RCMP officials — about what happened during that meeting.
Lucki said she did not interfere in the investigation, but she was frustrated with the Nova Scotia division over its communication with the public because media were reporting facts before the RCMP released them.
Nova Scotia officials said Lucki was angry and upset for a different reason: she was feeling political pressure to connect the killings to the Liberals’ promise to ban assault-style weapons, which they announced on May 1, 2020.
Chief Supt. Chris Leather and retired assistant commissioner Lee Bergerman told the committee last month that they recall Lucki saying she made a promise to the minister, as Campbell’s notes reflect.
Those notes were published as supporting evidence for a scathing document released by the ongoing public inquiry. That document outlines dozens of instances in which the RCMP concealed or obfuscated basic information about the case in the three months following the horrific events.
That includes the number of victims, their relationship to the gunman, the fact that one victim was a child, the number of crime scenes, the reason for the first 911 call the night the killings began, and when police learned the gunman was disguised as an RCMP officer, among other things.
The public inquiry has also released documents showing that Lucki sent an inventory of the weapons to federal officials on April 23, saying it shouldn’t be circulated any further than the prime minister and the public safety minister.
But after she “confirmed” to Blair that the information was to be released on April 28, and it was not released, Lucki told the committee she was frustrated that there had been yet another miscommunication.
Leather said the release of the information was not allowed because Nova Scotia’s police watchdog was in charge of the investigation into the gunman’s death and said the inventory could only be shared internally. The former director of the Serious Incident Response Team, Pat Curran, told The Canadian Press that giving the RCMP direction about its investigation would not have been part of his job, and that the weapons were not part of his investigation.
The public safety committee will also hear from senior officials in the federal Justice Department as it probes why four pages of Campbell’s notes — the pages containing details about the meeting with Lucki — were held back from the public inquiry investigators for months.
Initially, the Mass Casualty Commission was handed a package of notes that did not contain those four pages. They were eventually handed over, with Justice saying the pages were reviewed for privilege.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 16, 2022.
— With files from Michael Tutton and Lyndsay Armstrong
Police find two more victims at site of fatal fire in Old Montreal, total now 4
MONTREAL — Police say two more bodies were recovered Wednesday from the wreckage of a building in Old Montreal that was destroyed by fire last week, bringing the total number of confirmed victims to four.
A Montreal police spokesman said the bodies of the third and fourth victims have been turned over to a pathologist for identification as the search for others continues.
Earlier Wednesday, one of the first two confirmed victims was identified and police said at least five others remained missing in the rubble of the historic building.
Police Insp. David Shane identified the victim as 76-year-old Camille Maheux.
Maheux’s body was recovered from the fire on Sunday evening; a second body was removed from the rubble on Tuesday but has not yet been identified.
“The investigation and search for other victims are ongoing,” Shane told reporters at the scene Wednesday after formally announcing Maheux’s death.
Firefighters and police said a fire tore through the historic stone building early last Thursday.
Shane told a briefing earlier in the day that searchers were targeting areas of the building where the missing people were likely located when the fire started. Searchers used a crane, specialized camera equipment and drones, he said.
Authorities have said identities of victims will only be released after confirmation from two separate methods, including a DNA test or dental records.
Martin Guilbault, a Montreal fire operations chief, said a plan to dismantle the upper floors of the three-storey building was on hold while authorities conducted a more “methodical” search. Authorities, he said Wednesday, would concentrate efforts inside the building.
Shane said the discovery of the body on Tuesday evening “confirms that the cross-referencing of the information collected by investigators allows us to effectively orient the search in the building.”
Police did not provide further details about the second victim pending identification by the coroner’s office and out of respect for families, Shane said. Investigators, he added, have not ruled out the possibility there could be more than five people missing.
“We are well aware that the wait is currently very hard and painful for the families, especially each time we announce the discovery of a new victim in the rubble,” Shane said.
Family and friends have identified some of the missing, including Saniya Khan and her childhood friend Dania Zafar, who were in Montreal for a trip.
An Wu, 31, a neuroscientist doing post-doctoral work at the University of California San Diego who was in Montreal for a conference, has also been reported missing by friends.
Charlie Lacroix, an 18-year-old from the Montreal suburb of Terrebonne, was identified by her father as one of the missing. She had rented a unit in the building on Airbnb with a friend, and Lacroix’s father said his daughter told 911 operators that she was trapped in a unit with no fire escape or windows.
Authorities have not confirmed how many of the missing people were tourists but said they were from Quebec, Ontario and the United States.
The fatal fire has raised concerns over unlicensed Airbnb-type rentals in Montreal. Police have said the building built in 1890 included units that were rented on Airbnb, the United States-based online rental marketplace, which is outlawed in that area by the city.
Montreal’s mayor this week called for Airbnb to stop listing units that don’t have a provincial permit.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 22, 2023.
— With files from Mathieu Paquette in Montreal.
Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press
CP NewsAlert: Four people stabbed at high school in Halifax, student in custody
Halifax police have arrested a student after four people were stabbed at a high school this morning.
Police remain at the scene at Charles P. Allen High School in the suburb of Bedford.
The four victims were taken to hospital for treatment, and the extent of their injuries remains unclear.
Halifax Regional Police confirmed that the suspect is a student at the school.
The Canadian Press
The UK Narrative Falls Apart with Leaked Messages
Curious: Angela Merkel’s September 2019 Visit to Wuhan
The Vaccine Was “95% Effective” How?
RIP Rob Bennett: The Promoter, The Pirate, My Pal
Community1 day ago
Red Deer family rocked by cancer diagnosis seeks support from the community
Addictions2 days ago
B.C. parent launches class-action lawsuit against makers of Fortnite video game
Brownstone Institute1 day ago
Eye Protection Wasn’t Misdirection
Alberta2 days ago
Alberta program trains rural health-care workers in supporting sex assault victims
Federal Election 20212 days ago
Trudeau chief of staff Katie Telford to testify on foreign interference at committee
Alberta1 day ago
2022 World Senior Men’s gold medalist rink and Cheryl Bernard among teams at Senior Curling Championships at Red Deer’s Pidherney Centre this week
International2 days ago
Putin hosts Xi in the Kremlin with imperial palace pageantry
conflict15 hours ago
Canada extends emergency visa applications for Ukrainians fleeing war until July