Two senior RCMP officers will testify this week at the public inquiry into the mass shooting two years ago in Nova Scotia.
Supt. Darren Campbell and Supt. Chris Leather is due to speak to the Mass Casualty Commission for two days each, starting with Campbell on Monday.
The commission is examining the circumstances surrounding the killings of April 18 and 19, 2020, when a gunman shot and killed 22 people in 13 hours in several communities across the province. Victims include a pregnant woman and an RCMP officer.
Campbell was the support services officer at the time of the shooting, the third highest-ranking constable in the province. He handled most of the public briefings after April 19, 2020, as investigators began interviewing hundreds of witnesses and going through dozens of crime scenes.
The commission’s plan for this week says Campbell’s testimony will cover topics such as public communications during and after the rampage and “additional context regarding his involvement during the mass casualties.”
The force was widely criticized for failing to provide information to the public about the shooter’s movements in a replica RCMP cruiser in a timely manner. The gendarmerie relied on Twitter and Facebook to provide updates and did not inform the public that the shooter was driving a replica police car for more than two hours after confirming the information.
Families of the victims also criticized the information provided to them about their loved ones during and after the shooting.
Campbell’s handwritten notes taken during a meeting on April 28, 2020 sparked a political firestorm when they were released by the commission in June. The notes described a conference call with RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki, who chastised the Nova Scotia leadership team for failing to disclose the types of firearms used by the shooter.
Campbell’s notes indicated that Lucki had made a comment about the promise to the Prime Minister’s Office and the Minister of Public Safety that the information would be released. At the time, the federal Liberal government was preparing to introduce new gun control legislation.
Federal opposition parties accuse Lucki of exerting political pressure on Nova Scotia investigators to help the federal government build its case.
Lucki and Public Safety Minister Bill Blair will appear before a House of Commons committee investigating allegations of political interference on Monday.
Supt. Chris Leather, Nova Scotia’s second constable at the time of the shooting, will also appear before the committee. He is then scheduled to testify before the commission in Nova Scotia on Wednesday and Thursday.
The commission’s schedule says Leather will be questioned about “internal and interagency communication” after the shooting.