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N.S. shooting inquiry hears RCMP staffer deleted recording of controversial Lucki phone call

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The RCMP is investigating what happened to the recording of a controversial meeting between top brass at RCMP headquarters and officials with the force in Nova Scotia days after the 2020 mass shooting.

In the April 28, 2020 conference call, RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki allegedly expressed frustration over communications by the Nova Scotia RCMP following the rampage that left 22 people dead, including a pregnant woman.

According to notes released by the Mass Casualty Commission by Chief Supt. Darren Campbell, Lucki criticized him for not releasing details of the firearms used in the killings during a news conference earlier that day, saying she promised the Prime Minister’s Office the information would be released in connection with “pending gun control legislation.”

However, during testimony Friday at the Mass Casualty Commission, one of the top RCMP commanders in the country said the recording of the meeting has since been erased.

“It doesn’t exist because Mr. Brien has deleted it from whatever phone he was using at the time,” said Deputy commissioner Brian Brennan.

The man he’s referring to is Dan Brien, a senior media relations civilian employee with RCMP headquarters in Ottawa. Brennan said efforts are underway to try and retrieve the recording.

While the RCMP acknowledges part of the meeting was recorded, the force says the recording is “not available to them.”

In an emailed statement to CTV News, Robin Percival, a spokesperson for RCMP, said the force is reviewing the matter “to ascertain what further actions are required.”

“As this review is ongoing, we are not in a position to comment further at this time,” Percival stated.

Lawyers for the families of those affected by the mass shooting have told CTV News they have questions about this incident, including why the existence of this recording was not raised earlier.

This comes after the release of Campbell’s notes prompted opposition parties to accuse the federal Liberals of meddling in an open investigation to pass policy.

A letter written by civilian RCMP communications manager Lia Scanlan, dated April 14, 2021, claimed Lucki was incensed that staff in Halifax did not release gun details, suggesting they had let down surviving children whose parents were killed in Portapique, N.S.

"It was appalling, inappropriate, unprofessional and extremely belittling," Scanlan wrote. "To have anyone in the RCMP say we let the boys down. There is nothing that makes that acceptable, especially that it was said by the person, who by rank, is at the top of our organization."

Scanlan said Lucki "informed us of the pressures and conversation with (Public Safety) Minister (Bill) Blair, which we clearly understood was related to the upcoming passing of the gun legislation."

"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 July, Campbell told the inquiry that, as a seasoned investigator, he was strongly opposed to releasing information about the guns possessed by the killer, Gabriel Wortman.

"It was a no-brainer," he said.

Lucki has repeatedly denied that she was directly pressured to have the details released as part of the Liberal government’s gun-control agenda.

With files from the Canadian Press

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