Advertisement

Blair, Lucki insist ‘request’ about Nova Scotia shooting info was not political pressure

Click to play video: 'Blair rebukes allegations of interference in N.S. shooting probe'
Blair rebukes allegations of interference in N.S. shooting probe
WATCH: Blair rebukes allegations of interference in N.S. shooting probe – Oct 31, 2022

The head of the RCMP and the former public safety minister continued to insist on Monday that there was no political interference in a police investigation into the Nova Scotia mass shooting of April 2020.

The House of Commons committee on public safety called back Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair and RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki to drill down into the details of a tense conference call between Lucki and senior staff in Nova Scotia that was held in the days after the shooting.

Partial recordings and transcripts of the call released by the Mass Casualty Commission earlier this month have revived allegations of political pressure by Blair’s office on Lucki and the RCMP to release details about the firearms used.

Read more: Inquiry releases recordings of key RCMP meeting after N.S. mass shooting

Read next: Rent control: What tenants should know as rental prices surge across Canada  

Story continues below advertisement

The Conservatives have called on Blair to resign, and Tory members on the committee grilled the minister on Monday about whether he or his staff had requested the information to be released, which Blair denied.

“It wasn’t something I had requested or required of her,” he said, adding he never directed police to release information pertaining to any investigation while he was public safety minister.

At issue was a reference Lucki made during the April 28, 2020, call to a “request” she said she received from a minister’s office, though she did not specify which minister or the exact nature of the request.

Lucki explained to the committee that the request was actually a clarification from Blair’s then-chief of staff about whether or not basic information about the firearms would be made public.

Lucki said it would be, based on guidance from communications staff, only to become frustrated when Nova Scotia RCMP did not do so.

Click to play video: 'RCMP commissioner discusses audio recordings, says firearms one of many topics'
RCMP commissioner discusses audio recordings, says firearms one of many topics

That ask from Blair’s office was one of several she said she received in the days after the shooting from the media and politicians in Nova Scotia and Ottawa about when certain information about the shooting would be released and when.

Story continues below advertisement

“We’re making this all about the firearms, but it wasn’t just about the firearms,” she said.

Lucki further explained that her frustration on the 2020 call was due to a communication breakdown that led her to believe details about the firearms, as well as a chronology of the events during the shooting, would be released earlier than they were.

Read more: Recordings show RCMP commissioner didn’t ‘promise’ to release info about N.S. gunman’s firearms

Read next: Pope clarifies comments on homosexuality, says sexual act ‘outside of marriage’ is a sin

She told the committee her reference during the call about an apology to the minister was actually delivered to Blair’s office, not Blair himself — but insisted it was not because she had broken any kind of promise regarding the firearms that was tied to impending gun control legislation.

“If I say to you, Mr. Lloyd, that I’m going to give you information tomorrow by 4 o’clock, I’m expecting to have the information by tomorrow at 4 o’clock,” she explained to Conservative MP Dane Lloyd.

Click to play video: 'NDP call for changes to RCMP Act, wants directions by minister in writing for accountability'
NDP call for changes to RCMP Act, wants directions by minister in writing for accountability

“If I don’t get you the information by 4 o’clock, I’m going to phone you up and say, ‘You know what? I’m sorry, I didn’t get you the information.'”

Story continues below advertisement

Blair also said he never received a direct apology from Lucki and that one wouldn’t be necessary.

Click to play video: 'Conservatives demand Blair’s resignation after NS inquiry recordings revive allegation of political interference'
Conservatives demand Blair’s resignation after NS inquiry recordings revive allegation of political interference

He also refused to speculate on conversations between his senior staff, Lucki and the RCMP commissioner’s senior staff that he wasn’t directly involved in, distancing himself from any conversations about what type of information would be released about the mass shooting.

Lucki dismissed Conservative MP Raquel Denko’s accusations that the combined references in the call to a “request,” an apology and the impending legislation painted a picture of political interference.

“I appreciate your perception, but your perception is incorrect,” Lucki responded.

Read more: N.S. RCMP doubles down on allegations of political interference in mass shooting probe

Read next: Taliban double down on barring women from taking university entry exams

Asked later about why she brought up the legislation at all, she said she simply wanted to provide the “full context” of what was taking place at the time.

Story continues below advertisement

“We can’t be naive about what’s going on around us,” she said.

Notes taken during the conference call by Nova Scotia RCMP commanders and communications staff were what first led to allegations of political interference, which Blair and Lucki have repeatedly denied.

— with files from Global’s Brian Hill and the Canadian Press

Sponsored content