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Three years after the events of the SNC-Lavalin affair, the Trudeau government is once again facing down accusations that they actively meddled in the Canadian justice system to achieve a political end.
With SNC-Lavalin, the charge was that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office pressured his justice minister to unilaterally drop bribery charges against a Liberal-allied engineering firm. This time around, it’s that Trudeau’s public safety minister pressed RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki to “jeopardize” a mass-shooting investigation so that they could push a gun control package.
And in both cases, the allegations have come from some very reputable sources. The most inculpating details of the SNC-Lavalin affair came directly from Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould herself. With the RCMP scandal, the government’s alleged actions were outed by its own federal inquiry.
The Mass Casualty Commission – the federal inquiry into Canada’s worst-ever mass shooting – last week released a detailed report into how the RCMP managed its public communications in the wake of the April 2020 massacre that killed 22 Nova Scotians.
On page 103, the report outlines how Lucki allegedly dressed-down Nova Scotia investigators for their initial refusal to release details about the firearms used by the shooter.
“She had promised the Minister of Public Safety and the Prime Minister’s Office that the RCMP, (we) would release this information,” read handwritten notes by Nova Scotia RCMP Superintendent Darren Campbell after an April 28 meeting with the Commissioner.
The killer was carrying four firearms during the massacre; two pistols and two semi-automatic rifles, three of which were smuggled in from the United States. But Mounties were coy about these details at the time in order to avoid compromising an FBI probe into the source of the American weapons.
At a televised news conference just before Campbell’s meeting with Lucki, a Global News reporter had asked the superintendent about the type and caliber of the firearms used. “I can’t get into those details because the investigation is still active and ongoing,” Campbell replied.
The Mass Casualty Commission report would explain that Campbell had personally ordered RCMP spokespeople “not to release information about the perpetrator’s firearms out of concern that it would jeopardize the ongoing investigation into the perpetrator’s access to firearms.”
But according to Campbell’s notes, Lucki was displeased with this explanation, saying “we didn’t understand, that this was tied to pending gun control legislation that would make officers and public safer by or through this legislation.”
The legislation in question was a May 1, 2020 Order-in-Council — introduced only 10 days after the massacre — that instantly prohibited more than 1,500 types of long guns exhibiting what the government referred to as “assault-style” characteristics.
As the list omitted any number of Canadian long guns able to fire high-powered cartridges in quick succession, the “assault-style” label mostly applied to esthetic features such as pistol grips or black colouring.
The Liberals had promised a ban on “military-style assault rifles” during the 2019 federal election, but Trudeau’s introduction of the May 2020 Order-in-Council capitalized heavily on the recent massacre in Nova Scotia.
“Events like the recent tragedy in Nova Scotia … should never have happened,” read an official statement on the ban from the Prime Minister’s Office.
The ban’s connection to the massacre would turn out to be largely superficial, as the primary weapons were already illegal guns prohibited by Canadian law. Nevertheless, the Order-in-Council did prohibit the Ruger Mini-14 rifle. One of which, originally sourced from a Canadian gun shop, was illegally in the killer’s possession at the time of the massacre.
After news of Lucki’s attempted intervention received wide attention this week, both Lucki and Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair have responded by inferring that Campbell’s notes are wrong.
In an official statement from RCMP headquarters, Lucki said, “I would never take actions or decisions that could jeopardize an investigation.”
She acknowledged that her discussion with Campbell was “tense,” adding, “I regret the way I approached the meeting.” But she said that sharing information was standard procedure and “does not impact the integrity of ongoing investigations.”
Blair — who once served as Chief of the Toronto Police before entering federal politics — similarly told reporters on Tuesday that he never interfered with RCMP operations or pressed for the release of information to aid a pending gun ban. Both claims directly contradict Campbell’s version of events.
The April 28 meeting with Lucki is only the most recent revelation from the Mass Casualty Commission regarding allegations that the RCMP severely botched its public communications at the time of the massacre.
Nova Scotia RCMP were late to alert the public that an active shooter was on the loose, did not issue a province-wide emergency alert and did not inform Nova Scotians that the killer was driving a replica police cruiser until the final minutes of the 12-hour massacre.
In a Tuesday statement to the House of Commons, Interim Conservative Leader Candice Bergen says her party “believes” the version of events from Campbell. “These Liberals have a pattern of interfering with investigations to advance their political agenda,” she said.
The news also earned condemnation from NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, whose party is the junior partner in a de facto coalition keeping the Trudeau government in power. “The idea that this government — that any government — would use this horrific act of mass murder to gain support for their gun policy is completely unacceptable,” he said in a statement.
Rex Murphy: Brenda Lucki scandal a chance for Jagmeet Singh to stand up
Bill Blair faces heated accusations of political interference by Liberals in N.S. mass shooting
IN OTHER NEWS
While several provinces have mulled the idea of giving drivers a break on their gas taxes, the federal government rejected it out of hand this week with Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson saying it would be “irresponsible.” From a purely economic perspective, he has a point; with Canada facing ever-spiralling inflation, making a scarce commodity cheaper is likely to make everything worse. However, the Trudeau government has suspiciously refused to follow this philosophy in all of the non-gas aspects of their budgeting. Just last week, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland promised to address inflation by pouring even more deficit-financed money into our already overheated economy.
The National Post’s John Ivison is the latest pundit to notice that the Liberals conspicuously stopped trying as soon as the NDP effectively gave them a majority government in March. The Supply and Confidence Agreement inked between the two parties offered a handful of budget goodies (such as subsidized dental care) in exchange for an NDP promise to keep Trudeau in power until 2025. “The prospect of losing your job in the next year or so concentrates the mind,” wrote Ivison, “instead, this government is comfortable and complacent.”
Bill C-11 – which would give the CRTC unprecedented power to control the programming on streaming services such as YouTube and Netflix – has passed the House of Commons with NDP and Bloc Québécois support. Peter Menzies, a former vice-chair of the CRTC, is very disheartened that “the world’s most extensive internet regulation legislation so far” has gotten this far. In a column for The Line, he credited the bill’s passage to a relentless campaign of intimidation, debate-stifling and – where possible – outright lies. “That opprobrious gaslighting strategy and all the imperious overtones that it implies worked for Donald Trump,” he wrote. “And, right now, it’s working just fine for those governing Canada.”
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