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'She gets to just up and walk away': N.S. mass shooting victims' families on Lucki retirement


When RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki testified at the inquiry into the Nova Scotia mass shooting in August last year, one of her last comments to the Mass Casualty Commission was a pledge.

“And my commitment is not just to the commission, my commitment is to the family and friends of the victims,” she said. “Nothing is easy, and we will champion this, you have my commitment.”

Her statement came after the head of the commission, Michael MacDonald, implored her to ensure changes were made, “for the memory of the people who lost their lives.”

For the brother of one of those victims, Lucki’s words now ring hollow.

Her retirement, announced Wednesday, means Lucki will no longer be with the RCMP -- as her last day is two weeks before -- when the inquiry’s final report is to be released on March 31.

“She's the lucky one. She gets to just up and walk away from everything. The rest of us, we don't get to walk away from any of it,” says Scott McLeod.

His brother, Sean, was among the victims murdered on the second day of Gabriel Wortman’s violent rampage.

McLeod says his trust in the RCMP was eroded during Lucki’s tenure, and whoever takes up the role needs to meet with the families.

“There's a lot of work for them to do to gain a lot of trust from me,” he says.

Wortman killed 22 people, including a pregnant mother, during his deadly rampage, which began in the small community of Portapique, N.S., on April 18, 2020, and continued the following Sunday morning.

During the killings, he disguised himself as a uniformed Mountie and drove a mock RCMP cruiser before being shot and killed by police after an extensive manhunt.

A lawyer from a firm representing many others whose loved ones were killed agrees with McLeod.

“Of the individuals I’ve spoken with, there's a sentiment of this should have happened a while ago,” said Sandra McCulloch. “There’s certainly no secret that there’s been a great deal of trust lost in the RCMP with commissioner Lucki at the head."

As for the timing, McCulloch says one can only speculate about the reasoning behind it, but her clients feel it also raises questions.

“It can't help but make you wonder why Commissioner Lucki doesn't want to be sitting in that chair when the report is released,” she says.

The lawyer representing the family of Joy and Peter Bond, who were killed in their home during the tragedy, expressed his clients’ disappointment in Lucki’s tenure as commissioner.

The Bond’s sons waited two days before the RCMP confirmed their parents' deaths, which came only after Harry Bond drove to Portapique himself to get answers. Their parents’ bodies went undiscovered by RCMP for 16 hours.

“[And] what became apparent to us was a lack of awareness of what actually transpired during this mass casualty event, and this is even two years post, as evidenced by her commission evidence in terms of what went wrong and what substantive changes were put in place so that we could respond more effectively to the next critical incident,” says attorney Joshua Bryson.

“We were certainly extremely disappointed with the disconnect between the top brass and what had occurred in Portapique in 2020. We were let down by the RCMP’s reaction to this mass casualty event,” he adds.

After the tragedy, Lucki was repeatedly taken to task over the RCMP’s response during and after the mass shooting.

During the inquiry, she also had to deny allegations of political interference in the investigation from within her own ranks.

“I think it’s time for her to go for the organization to move forward,” says Chris Lewis, former commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police and CTV public safety analyst.

“She’s a wonderful person, but the last couple years have been really difficult for her,” he adds, citing scathing criticism of the RCMP’s handling of both the Nova Scotia tragedy and the Ottawa convoy.

Lewis says Lucki was “thrown under the bus” by the federal government after those questions of political interference were raised when internal RCMP notes surfaced at the commission, suggesting Lucki wanted details about the gunman’s illegal firearms released to the public shortly after the tragedy due to political pressure. Both Lucki and then Public Safety Minister Bill Blair have denied that to be the case.

As for the timing of Lucki’s retirement, Lewis says he would have done it differently.

“It’s a personal decision, [but] I, at the same time, would have probably stayed to see that through,” he says. “From a leadership perspective, somebody’s got to carry the ball on behalf of the organization when that happens, and I think it should have been the commissioner of the day.”

McLeod has a message for whoever becomes the next RCMP commissioner.

“I hope that somebody starts listening to the public, instead what appears to be like a superiority complex,” he says, “Just be a little more forthcoming.”

“Perhaps there’s a silver lining to it,” adds McCulloch. “In that the report will be released…with somebody who may be in a better position to provide assurances to the victims of the mass casualty event, the surviving families and the surviving victims, and to the larger community that the RCMP is going to…take serious action upon [the recommendations].” Top Stories

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