Much is being made of the so-called scandal created when RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki allegedly berated members of the Nova Scotia RCMP for not releasing the type of weapons used in the April 2020 shooting rampage in Nova Scotia that killed 22 people. It’s seen as a scandal because Lucki was reportedly under pressure from the Trudeau Government to release the information because the government apparently thought it would help gin up public opinion in favour of new gun laws the government wanted to pass.
What seems to be lost in the discussion is that the “pressure” by Lucki was applied in a meeting that took place eight days after the massacre. When we watch these horrible mass shootings unfold in the United States, we know everything almost immediately– what kind of gun, how many clips, what the shooter was wearing. How could releasing the type of weapon used eight days after the event, and after the perpetrator was shot dead in any way impact the investigation?
A lawyer representing 14 victims’ families is probably correct when he says the government shouldn’t have been pursuing political agendas at a time when his clients and the province of Nova Scotia were still reeling with the enormity of the tragedy, although that’s exactly what happened in the US in the Uvalde Texas mass shooting. With what Canadians see in the United States they already assume automatic weapons are being used in these kinds of incidents and that the guns are illegal—its hard to see how confirming that information would make anybody opposed to gun control suddenly embrace it. If that really was the reason for the government putting pressure on the RCMP it was a dumb idea.
In the Nova Scotia case, the shooter had two semiautomatic handguns and two semiautomatic rifles, one of which was described as a “military-style assault rifle—all illegally obtained. How the release of that information on the day of the shooting, the day after the shooting or a week later could have any possible impact on the investigation is a mystery.
This whole controversy is a rabbit-hole that detracts from key questions like how could this rampage have gone on for 13 hours before it was brought to an end? Why did police use social media instead of the ALERT Ready system which broadcasts to Canadian television, radio, and wireless devices to warn the public? Finally, why did police ignore several tips from the public that the perpetrator had a stash of illegal guns and was engaging in threatening behaviour?
As veteran Halifax news commentator Steve Murphy put it, “What was characterized as a firearms complaint was, in fact, a mass murder and the RCMP knew it. The conscious choice to understate the severity of the situation may have prevented widespread panic, but it also blunted the widespread concern and self-defence measures, which the truth surely would have provoked.
And this was not the only time the RCMP endangered the public by not telling the truth. In deciding not to quickly reveal that the shooter was masquerading as an RCMP officer, in a look-alike police cruiser, the RCMP opted to put the safety of its officers ahead of the safety of the public.”
That’s where the public focus should be—not this Ottawa sideshow.