RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki continues to dance around questions of political interference from then-Public Safety Minister Bill Blair and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
The issue of political interference first exploded when Nova Scotia RCMP Superintendent Darren Campbell’s notes about a conference call were released by the Mass Casualty Commission and published by the Halifax Examiner.[i]
On that call, Commissioner Lucki verbally abused Supt. Campbell, Lia Scanlan (Director of Strategic Communications) and others, for not publicly releasing the make and model of all weapons used by the Nova Scotia murderer.
Campbell noted that Commissioner Lucki “promised the minister of public safety and the Prime Minister’s Office” the release of this information because it “was tied to pending gun-control legislation that would make officers and the public safer.”
Lia Scanlan’s April 14, 2021, letter to Brenda Lucki made it clear the Commissioner’s actions were unprofessional in the extreme.[ii]
“You personally attacked me, the work we had done and told us that you perceived our actions as a blatant sign of disrespect,” Lia Scanlan wrote. “It was appalling, inappropriate, unprofessional, and extremely belittling.”
“Eventually, you informed us of the pressures and conversation with Minister Blair, which we clearly understood was related to the upcoming passing of the gun legislation… and there it was. I remember a feeling of disgust as I realized this was the catalyst for the conversation and perhaps a justification for what you were saying about us.”
In his testimony on Monday, July 25, 2022, retired RCMP Assistant Commissioner Lee Bergerman echoed the facts and feelings of both Supt. Campbell and Lia Scanlan.
“The conversation was we didn’t understand the big picture and there was pressure from the minister to release the calibre and the make and models used,” Bergerman said. “She [Commissioner Lucki] was very angry at our team … she felt disrespected and disobeyed.”
Commissioner Lucki confirmed that she received the letter from Ms. Scanlan, but said she did not interfere in the criminal investigation at the behest of the Liberal government. She acknowledged, however, that she did not handle the meeting very well.
“I regret the effects my words had on those involved in the meeting,” she said in a statement. “However, I want to re-emphasize that I did in no way seek to interfere in the ongoing investigation, nor did I feel any political pressure to do so.”
Then she backtracked and sidestepped again.
“It wasn’t a promise in the traditional sense,” she told the House of Commons Public Safety and National Security Committee.
“Was there pressure for information from the federal government about this incident? Yes,” she said. “This wasn’t surprising as we were dealing with the biggest mass shooting incident.”
Lucki to Blair: Do Not Distribute Firearms Info
On April 23, Commissioner Lucki e-mailed Bill Blair’s office and informed him of the specific makes and models of all guns used by the killer, with one caveat.
“Please do not disseminate further,” Commissioner Lucki said in an e-mail to Zita Astravas, Mr. Blair’s chief of staff. “Do not share this information past the Minister and the PM as it is directly related to this active investigation.”[iii]
Five days later, she ripped senior Nova Scotia RCMP commanders for refusing to make that information public.
Was heavy political pressure applied by Bill Blair and/or Justin Trudeau during those five days that resulted in Lucki’s complete flip-flop on releasing this data?
“If she flagged that releasing this information would jeopardize the investigation, how would she change her tune five days later?” asked MP Raquel Dancho.[iv]
Why Was Data Withheld by Justice Department?
The Department of Justice withheld both Supt. Campbell’s detailed notes of the call and Lia Scanlan’s scathing letter to Commissioner Lucki for months.
Was it in the hopes the scandal could be contained, kept hidden from public scrutiny?
Bill Blair Denials
Bill Blair continues to deny, deflect and make counteraccusations.
“At no point did I direct the RCMP in any operational matter,” Blair said, “including on public communications. I did not ask them to release any specific information, nor did I receive a promise from them to do so.”[v]
Mr. Blair acknowledged there was a real desire to get all the information out about the shooting and “in the Commissioner’s mind, that included the weapons.”
“I gave no direction as to what information they should communicate. Those are operational decisions of the RCMP. And I respect that and I have respected that throughout,” Blair said.
The PMO said Mr. Blair is speaking for the government.[vi]
Supt. Darren Campbell’s Unassailable Integrity
“Darren is one of the best investigators in the force and a highly reliable officer with tremendous integrity,” said former RCMP Commissioner Robert Paulson. “You won’t find a practising police officer who will speak ill of Darren Campbell.”
“This officer has a solid reputation,” said former deputy commissioner Pierre-Yves Borduas, who added there is no way that Supt. Campbell would make up a story about Commissioner Lucki.
“I’ve followed Darren Campbell since the day he was a recruit,” said former RCMP superintendent Peter Lepine. “He’s an extremely competent police officer and extremely well trained in the world of major investigations.”
Mr. Lepine said he doesn’t believe Supt. Campbell “would falsify any notes or have any agenda to hang anybody out to dry.”
Brenda Lucki’s Lack of Integrity
Lucki’s deference to her political masters, combined with the abdication of her personal and professional integrity, leaves a rotten taste in the mouths of RCMP members and civilians alike.
“The consequences women can face for saying ‘no’ and speaking truth to this Prime Minister couldn’t have been lost on Commissioner Lucki – the stronger the backbone, the shorter the career for women,” said public safety critic Raquel Dancho.
Character Failure of the Highest Order
Every participant on that April 28th conference call tells essentially the same story.
Commissioner Lucki was furious that details of the firearms used by the mass killer were not disclosed to the public – a position she defended just 5 days prior.
Lucki berating of her colleagues was “appalling, inappropriate, unprofessional, and extremely belittling.”
Brenda Lucki could not say no to her political masters. Whether from fear of losing her job or simply a lack of character, Brenda Lucki caved under the pressure from Bill Blair and Justin Trudeau – real or imagined – and then took her frustration out on her colleagues.
That is a leadership and character failure of the highest order.
And through it all Brenda Lucki allows Bill Blair to skate out from under any accountability for his actions while placing the blame squarely on her shoulders.
“…in the Commissioner’s mind, that included the weapons.”
We’ve known for years that Bill Blair and Justin Trudeau suffer from massive integrity deficits.
That their ingrained character failings have now infected the highest ranks of the RCMP should terrify every Canadian.
When this Liberal government refuses to abide by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, as we’ve seen over the past three years, is it really a surprise they are willing to apply political pressure on the RCMP Commissioner to get what they want?