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‘That meant a lot’: Families of N.S. shooting victims respond to RCMP member’s apology

Click to play video: 'N.S. shooting victims’ family members pleased to hear RCMP take accountability'
N.S. shooting victims’ family members pleased to hear RCMP take accountability
WATCH: Family members of the Nova Scotia mass shooting victims say they’re pleased to see a senior-ranking RCMP member take accountability for the shortcomings in their response to the 2020 shootings. Chief Supt. Darren Campbell made a tearful apology in front of the Mass Casualty Commission. Graeme Benjamin reports – Jul 27, 2022

Family members of some of the Nova Scotia mass shooting victims say they’re pleased to see a senior-ranking RCMP member take accountability for shortcomings in their response to the April 2020 rampage.

On Tuesday, Chief Supt. Darren Campbell concluded his two-day testimony in front of the Mass Casualty Commission with a heartfelt apology.

“I apologize for failing,” he said. “I’m truly sorry that we failed you, and I promise that we’ll do better.”

Read more: Senior Mountie says early descriptions of mass shooting not ‘consistent’ with reality

Ryan Farrington, who lost his mother Dawn Madsen and stepfather Frank Gulenchyn in the shooting, says it was an apology more than two years in the making.

“To me it was a genuine, heartfelt ‘sorry,'” said Farrington. “It’s one of the biggest things I wanted to hear.

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“For him to come out and say that in the position that he’s in, being a senior officer still, I can truly appreciate that. And that meant a lot to me.”

Farrington said Campbell met with him Tuesday evening after the apology, which is something he also appreciated.

However, Farrington says he still struggles to forgive the RCMP and remains frustrated with the inquiry and its process.

“It would have been nice to hear this at the beginning. It would have been nice to hear this even before we had a public inquiry,” he said.

Click to play video: 'Senior Mountie makes tearful apology to families at N.S. shooting inquiry'
Senior Mountie makes tearful apology to families at N.S. shooting inquiry

Scott McLeod, who lost his brother Sean in the shooting, agrees, saying the most senior-ranking RCMP members involved in the response should have taken the stand months ago.

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“If this testimony had been at the beginning, a lot of the members that have already previously testified may have been a little more open about some of the stuff they did, or couldn’t do, or didn’t think to do,” he said.

Lawyer Adam Rodgers, who has been a keen observer of the inquiry’s proceedings, expects Campbell’s apology to put even more pressure on other senior-ranking RCMP members yet to testify, like retired Assistant Commissioner Lee Bergerman, Chief Supt. Chris Leather and Commissioner Brenda Lucki.

“If Darren Campbell is saying this, then it’s inconceivable that others couldn’t agree,” said Rodgers. “He’s speaking at a senior level, so it puts pressure on these other officers to express some similar contrition.”

Read more: Chronic RCMP officer shortages in rural areas evident in N.S. mass shooting: Mountie

The National Police Federation, which represents the majority of RCMP members, maintains that first responders did everything they could given the resources that were available.

“The RCMP needs to be better resourced with human and financial across the country, even in the province of Nova Scotia, to improve public and police safety,” said Brian Sauve, president of the federation.

Chief Supt. Chris Leather, who was among the first to tell the public about the 2020 mass shooting, concluded the first part of his testimony on Wednesday. He’s expected to face cross-examination on Thursday.

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