Tories call for resignations after release of audio by Nova Scotia shooting inquiry

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says his government didn't interfere with a police investigation into the Nova Scotia mass shooting, following a Conservative party call for the resignation of former public safety minister Bill Blair and the RCMP's commissioner.

The Opposition push for a resignation comes one day after Thursday's release of recordings of a heated conference call between RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki and senior staff in Nova Scotia.

During that April 28, 2020, meeting, Lucki said she understood the police force couldn't release certain details about the investigation into how a gunman killed 22 people during a 13-hour rampage earlier that month.

However, she told officers in Halifax that she felt frustrated when she learned the speaking notes used for an RCMP news conference earlier that day did not include basic information about the killer's weapons in the April 18-19, 2020, rampage.

She can be heard saying her desire to publicly share these basic facts was in response to a request she received from a minister's office, though she did not specify which minister or the exact nature of the request.

The Conservatives have seized on these comments to suggest the Liberal government was interfering in the police investigation to further its pending gun control legislation.

However, Trudeau told reporters on Friday the families of the victims and Canadians generally wanted answers about what guns were used, "and we wanted to make sure those families got as many answers as they could, as quickly as possible."

Trudeau added the RCMP didn't release more than the general information that the guns were semi-automatic pistols and rifles.

"Every step of the way we recognized and supported the fact the RCMP and the police of jurisdiction are the ones who decide what is released and when. They make decisions about how to balance the need of the public to get answers and the need to protect the integrity of investigations," he said.

"As we saw in this case, it was the police who months later made that decision to release more information."

Raquel Dancho, Conservative public safety critic, read a statement to reporters Friday calling for Blair and Lucki to resign immediately.

Dancho said the recordings released by the public inquiry into the shootings show Blair and Lucki misled Canadians and "lied" to a parliamentary committee looking into the matter.

She said the audio confirmed that the minister's office requested the RCMP release sensitive information about the ongoing investigation, and that confirmation was given to the minister this would occur.

"We have a situation here where the minister is directing the RCMP to interfere in an investigation and that they were advised doing so would jeopardize that investigation,” said Dancho. “So very clearly, that is political pressure that they were putting on the commissioner to interfere in the investigation.”

Lucki has said during hearings of the public inquiry that she did not consider answering questions from the minister's office to be equivalent to taking direction from the minister.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 21, 2022.

The Canadian Press