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Royal Canadian Mounted Police

June 22, 2022

Hon. Donald Neil Plett (Leader of the Opposition)

Honourable senators, my question today is again for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. This is a follow-up to yesterday’s question, leader, about pressure put on the RCMP commissioner by the Prime Minister and Minister Blair to release information on the investigation into the horrific April 2020 shootings in Nova Scotia.

Leader, these are the notes of Superintendent Darren Campbell of the Nova Scotia RCMP:

The Commissioner said she had promised the Minister of Public Safety and the Prime Minister’s Office that the RCMP (we) would release this information. I tried to explain there was no intent to disrespect anyone however we could not release this information at this time. The Commissioner then said that we didn’t understand, that this was tied to pending gun control legislation. . . .

Leader, I know your government isn’t good at providing answers, but, now that you have had time to get a response, did Commissioner Lucki promise to use the mass murders in Nova Scotia to advance the Liberal government policy? Who in the Prime Minister’s Office or in the minister’s office talked to Commissioner Lucki about releasing this information?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate) [ + ]

Thank you for your question.

The independence of our law enforcement operations is a key principle of our democracy and one that the government deeply respects. I have been assured that at no point did the government pressure or interfere in the operational decisions of the RCMP. I direct all senators to the commissioner’s statement from yesterday in which she makes very clear that there was no interference.

Canadians, including those directly impacted by the tragedy, have expressed concern about when and how the RCMP shared information with the public, and that is why the government specified in the order of reference that the Mass Casualty Commission examine the communications approach taken both during and after the event.

Finally, senators, the former Minister of Public Safety, Minister Blair, both during Question Period in the House and today to reporters, was unequivocal. I know Minister Blair is a man of integrity, and I quote him from Question Period:

I can confirm for the House, as the commissioner has also confirmed, that no such direction or pressure was exerted by any member of this government to influence the commissioner’s exercise of her authorities over her police service.

Of course, leader, we are all aware of the denials that are coming fast and furious over there, and people are being thrown under the bus as fast as they can.

Senator Gold, you might not like our questions, but there is no excuse for the lack of information you are providing, and this is no information on this important issue. The types of answers the government gives makes a mockery of accountability.

This is the testimony, leader, of Lia Scanlan, communications director for the Nova Scotia RCMP:

The commissioner releases a body count that we (Communications) don’t even have. She went out and did that. It was all political pressure.

Leader, she continues, “That is 100% Minister Blair and the Prime Minister.”

Again, these are not my words but Lia Scanlan’s, “And we have a Commissioner that does not push back.”

Leader, why did the Prime Minister and Minister Blair talk to the commissioner about releasing information on the number of victims during an active police investigation?

Senator Gold [ + ]

Thank you for your question.

Respectfully, I answered your first question, and I’m going to answer the following. Minister Blair said today to reporters:

. . . I made no effort to pressure the RCMP to interfere in any way with their investigation. 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.

I should add, as well, that Minister Blair also refuted the notes that were referred to in the newspaper article to which you referred, again saying these were the recollections, perhaps, of that person. Minister Blair stands by his statement, and I can do no better than stand behind his statement as well.

Hon. Leo Housakos [ + ]

Honourable senators, my question is for the leader of the Liberal-NDP government.

Senator Gold, I need to get back to the question asked of you by Senator Plett. At the end of the day, with your talking points, you are essentially asking us to believe the word of this Trudeau government over the RCMP.

Senator Gold, it has been a few years now since we found out that your government wasn’t above interfering in criminal court proceedings for political expediency, and more recently we found out that you are not above illegally suspending the rights of Canadians with an unjustified invocation of the Emergencies Act.

It should come as no surprise to any of us that your government thinks nothing of interfering in the police investigation of one of this country’s most brutal mass murders and taking advantage of that tragedy in order to advance the Trudeau political agenda.

My question to you is simple: Is there any length to which the Trudeau government will not go for political expediency?

Senator Gold [ + ]

Senator Housakos, thank you for your question. I stand by the answer. Your premises are not accepted or correct. The commissioner was clear in her statement. Minister Blair was clear in his statement, and that is the appropriate answer to that which you have asked.

Senator Housakos [ + ]

Senator Gold, the RCMP has been very clear in their claims in this investigation. The only people refuting them are the government talking points that you are spewing here today.

If your government really wants us to believe that you are putting the interests of Canadians — in particular, the families of victims in Nova Scotia — ahead of the Trudeau government’s political interests, you would have already agreed to the emergency debate on the accusations revealed yesterday regarding the RCMP commissioner. Instead, your government has moved to have Parliament remain at half efficiency for yet another year as a response.

Senator Gold, I know you came to this place in the spirit of independence. I know you have an open mind, and somehow now you have found yourself as a member of Privy Council representing a government that has proven to be hyperpartisan.

Don’t you think the people of Nova Scotia deserve better? Don’t you think the victims’ families deserve answers to these important questions?

Senator Gold [ + ]

I know all Canadians, this government and members of the opposition are heartbroken over the tragedy that happened in Nova Scotia. I stand by my answers to your question. I am saddened by the use of the tragedy that befell the victims in the way that you have presented your commentary and question.

The fact is the government respects the independence of the RCMP. The minister was clear that there was no interference. The commissioner was clear that there was no interference. That is the position of the government.

It is the position of the government that respects not only the RCMP, but respects the integrity of the inquiry that is going on and, most of all, respects and honours the memory of those who lost their lives in Nova Scotia.

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