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Calls for RCMP transparency grow louder 1 month after last briefing on N.S. shooting

Getting more answers about N.S. shooting still unsure: police officials
It’s been one month since the RCMP’s last press briefing on updates about the investigation into the N.S. shooting. As Elizabeth McSheffrey reports, they say they’re not sure when they’ll have more answers.

A full month has passed since the RCMP stood in front of a podium to take questions about the worst mass shooting in modern Canadian history, prompting new allegations that the force is not meeting minimum standards of transparency.

The Mounties held their last press briefing on April 28, and while acknowledging that the investigation into an atrocity of this scale is complex, some say there’s no reason they couldn’t communicate weekly to reassure the public.

“They can say, ‘Look we don’t have anything new at the moment, but let’s hear what questions you might have about this, that or the other,'” said former police officer and Simon Fraser University criminology professor Robert Gordon.

“Certainly investigative requirements sometimes dictate that information be kept back, but we’re now a month into this, it’s now fairly clear what happened.”

READ MORE: Tracing the gunman’s path — RCMP searched N.S. shooter’s in-car data, court docs show

In an emailed statement to Global News on Thursday, an RCMP spokesperson said there’s no information available on the investigation to share this week.

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“We are looking at doing an update soon,” wrote Cpl. Jennifer Clarke. “I can’t provide an ETA (estimated time of arrival) on that.”

Clarke did not answer questions about why there’s so much time in between RCMP press briefings, or how the force decides when it’s time to hold a briefing.

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The mass shooting in rural Nova Scotia last month left 22 innocent people dead and an entire country in mourning.

Details on the rampage and testimony from the those who knew the gunman were released last week in heavily-redacted court documents submitted by the RCMP, and their investigation is ongoing.

Archie Kaiser, a law professor at Dalhousie University who has been vocal about calls for a public inquiry, said RCMP aren’t in a position to give a final report on the shooting now, but they ought to communicate their “deep commitment” to the public regularly.

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“We have to recognize that certainly this is the most horrible crime that Nova Scotia has ever experienced and it’s of national stature as well,” he told Global News.

“So I believe it’s incumbent on the police to regularly communicate with the public so we don’t have to wait to the end to get a full account, so that as much as possible, we’re told what has been going on within reason and where it’s going. I don’t think anybody wants to be kept in the dark.”

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Earlier this week, Nova West MP Chris d’Entremont called on federal Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair to “work with his colleagues” at the RCMP to improve public communication on the shooting.

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A public inquiry could be called after the RCMP complete their investigation, he added, but police should provide more answers to grieving Nova Scotians in the interim.

“I understand the investigation is difficult, there’s a lot of people involved in this, there’s lots of crime scenes, but at the same time, we’re in a special situation,’ d’Entremont explained.

“We have COVID-19, we’re in a lockdown in a pandemic, so why not be a little more forthcoming as you’re doing the investigations to provide folks with the information they need?”

News outlets, including Global News, continue to fight to unseal more police documents with details on the shooting in order to ensure transparency amid calls for a public inquiry.