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Mountie who wrote that RCMP head interfered in N.S. investigation 'came to his own conclusions,' says Blair – CBC News

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Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair is casting doubt on the Nova Scotia Mountie who suggested Commissioner Brenda Lucki interfered in the investigation into the largest mass shooting in Canadian history. 

The former public safety minister’s comments come as the political firestorm around the head of the national police force spills into a second day. 

That explosive allegation was contained in handwritten notes from Nova Scotia RCMP Supt. Darren Campbell which were released Tuesday as part of the Mass Casualty Commission probe.

The commission is investigating the April 18-19, 2020, rampage that claimed the lives of 22 people — including a pregnant woman — and left several people injured and several homes destroyed. The commission released a report Tuesday on the way the RCMP and government communicated with the public about the incident.

WATCH | Bill Blair denies government intervened in N.S. shooting investigation: 

Minister addresses claims of federal interference in N.S. mass shooting investigation

5 hours ago

Duration 1:02

Minister of Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair says the federal government was never involved in conversations between RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki and her subordinates around the investigation into the 2020 Nova Scotia mass shooting.

In those notes, Campbell wrote that RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki was upset that the RCMP in Nova Scotia were not revealing more information about the weapons used because she had promised the federal government — which was considering gun control legislation at the time — that they would raise it.

“The superintendent obviously came to his own conclusions and his notes reflect that,” Blair told reporters Wednesday. 

“But I’m telling you, and I would tell the superintendent if I spoke to him, I made no effort to pressure the RCMP to interfere in any way with their investigation. I gave no direction as to what information they should communicate. Those are operational decisions of the RCMP and I respect that and I have respected that throughout.”

Lucki has also denied interfering in the investigation.

“As a police officer, and the RCMP commissioner, I would never take actions or decisions that could jeopardize an investigation,” Lucki wrote in a statement released Tuesday evening.

A woman in an RCMP uniform stands in front of a Canadian flag.
Lucki, seen speaking at a 2019 news conference in Ottawa, says she did not interfere in the N.S. shooting investigation. (Chris Wattie/The Canadian Press)

While the statement did not directly address the claim that she was pushing for the release of more information to help the Liberals’ plans for gun control, Lucki wrote that briefings with the public safety minister are necessary, particularly during a mass shooting.

“I take the principle of police independence extremely seriously, and it has been and will continue to be fully respected in all interactions,” she wrote.

Blair, who was the minister of public safety at the time of the shooting spree, said he has faith in the commissioner, who was appointed by the Liberal government in 2018.

The new public safety minister, Marco Mendicino, said he believes the “principle of operational independence” was upheld. That sets out that the RCMP commission is accountable to the minister, but operationally independent and should be free from direction or influence of elected officials when fulfilling its core law enforcement functions.

WATCH | Public safety minister on N.S. mass shooting investigation: 

Public safety minister on N.S. mass shooting investigation

2 hours ago

Duration 1:52

Marco Mendicino reacts to the Conservatives claiming that the federal Liberal government interfered with the Nova Scotia shooting investigation. Liberals deny the claims.

“Naturally, in the aftermath of this, there was a great anxiety, a great fear, a great sense of despair and anguish and loss, and Canadians had and continue to have a right to know as to what went on. So, in those moments, there will be an exchange of information,” said Mendicino Wednesday.

“There will be conversations had about what went on, and I think there is a responsibility on the part of both law enforcement and government to be upfront with Canadians which is why there needs to be exchanges of information contemporaneous to those events.”

Conservatives believe Campbell: Bergen

Conservatives are demanding an emergency debate immediately and a House of Commons committee investigation to get to the bottom of the allegations.

“This is disgusting to know that the prime minister and his office would use the death of Canadians for his own political gain,” said Interim Conservative leader Candice Bergen.

“Conservatives believe Supt. Darren Campell when he says that Brenda Lucki, the commissioner, pressured him, pressured the RCMP, and the reason she did it was because she had made a commitment or she had been pressured by the Prime Minister’s Office and/or the public safety minister.”

WATCH | Victims’ families lash out at N.S. shooting inquiry: 

Angry victims’ families heard at N.S. shooting inquiry

18 hours ago

Duration 4:57

Family members of the N.S. shooting victims expressed their frustration about how the RCMP handled telling them about what happened to their loved ones. Meanwhile, a report questioned whether the RCMP’s top cop interfered with the release of some information because of promises to the Prime Minister’s Office.

According to Campbell’s notes, Lucki’s alleged comments came during a meeting about a week after the shootings. 

During a news conference, Campbell told reporters the gunman had two semi-automatic handguns and two semi-automatic rifles.

He would not offer more details but said that some of the guns might have come from the United States and the Canada Border Services Agency was assisting with the investigation.

“The commissioner was obviously upset. She did not raise her voice but her choice of words was indicative of her overall dissatisfaction with our work,” Campbell wrote after meeting with Lucki on April 28.

“The Commissioner said she had promised the Minister of Public Safety and the Prime Minister’s Office that the RCMP (we) would release this information,” Campbell continued.

Releasing gun info might hurt case, RCMP Supt. wrote

“I tried to explain there was no intent to disrespect anyone, however we could not release this information at this time. The Commissioner then said that we didn’t understand, that this was tied to pending gun control legislation that would make officers and the public safer.”

Campbell wrote that he believed releasing information about the firearms might hamper the investigation.

“I said we couldn’t because to do so would jeopardize ongoing efforts to advance the U.S. side of the case as well as the Canadian components of the investigation,” he wrote.

Soon after that April 28 meeting, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a ban on some 1,500 firearm makes and models, including two of the guns used in the Nova Scotia mass shooting — a Colt Law Enforcement Carbine, a semi-automatic weapon, and a Ruger Mini-14.

WATCH | Did the government try to interfere in N.S. shooting investigation? 

Did the government try to interfere in an RCMP investigation of the Nova Scotia mass shooting?

21 hours ago

Duration 11:02

A report released by a public inquiry into the 2020 Nova Scotia mass shooting suggests RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki had promised the government to release information regarding the firearms used in the tragedy. MPs Taleeb Noormohamed and Raquel Dancho weigh in.

At that time, police had still not released the specific makes and models used in the attacks. That information didn’t become public until the fall of 2020, when the National Post reported details of the weapons after obtaining a briefing note prepared for the prime minister after the shooting.

During an interview on CBC’s Power& Politics on May 1, 2020 to tout the gun ban, Blair said the RCMP would reveal more information about the weapons used in the shooting when they deemed it appropriate. 

“I think most appropriately the RCMP will reveal the information of their investigation when they have concluded and at a time they deem appropriate. The RCMP, in the completion of their investigation, will at their own appropriate time reveal the details of that investigation and I’m not going to preempt them on that,” he said.

When asked if he was suggesting the weapons were legally obtained, Blair said the guns are relevant to the Liberal’s ban.

“Let me be very clear, the weapons used in this offence are very relevant to the work that we have done today,” he said. “And I believe Canadians will have a better understanding of that when that information becomes available.”

Investigators have said they believe the shooter, Gabriel Wortman, who didn’t have a firearms licence, obtained three of the guns used during the massacre in Maine and smuggled them into Canada.

Mounties ‘reduced to tears’ in meeting: Campbell 

Of the meeting with Lucki, Campbell wrote that some in the room “were reduced to tears and emotional over this belittling reprimand.”

In her Tuesday statement, Lucki said she regrets her behaviour in that meeting, which she said was called to discuss several matters, including the flow of information to RCMP national headquarters and the public release of information. 

“It was a tense discussion, and I regret the way I approached the meeting and the impact it had on those in attendance,” she said.

“My need for information should have been better weighed against the seriousness of the circumstances they were experiencing. I should have been more sensitive in my approach. Had I led the meeting differently, these employees would have felt more supported during what I know was an extremely difficult time.”

Lucki is expected to be called as a witness next month.

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Funding and politics hit N.Ireland abortion services – FRANCE 24 English

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Issued on: 04/07/2022 – 07:36Modified: 04/07/2022 – 07:35

London (AFP) – Campaigners in Northern Ireland are closely watching US moves to restrict abortion, particularly concerns that women will now have to travel across states for terminations.

Abortion was only decriminalised in the British province in 2019 — 42 years after terminations were made legal up to 24 weeks in most circumstances in the rest of the UK.

But despite legislation, lack of government funding and political wrangling have meant women are still having to travel to the British mainland for abortions.

Currently, there are still no surgical abortion services available in Northern Ireland and no options for abortion after 10 weeks of pregnancy.

Last year, 161 women crossed the Irish Sea to England and Wales for an abortion, according to UK government statistics published last month.

“The fact that 161 people travelled last year is totally unacceptable, even one should be a scandal,” Dani Anderson from the Abortion Support Network told AFP.

The recent US Supreme Court decision to overturn the 1973 Roe v Wade ruling which enshrined the right to abortion prompted some states to introduce a ban.

That has raised fears women from low-income, rural and black and minority ethnic backgrounds will be hit hardest if they have to travel.

Barriers

In Northern Ireland, campaigners say this is already a reality.

Grainne Teggart, deputy programme director for Amnesty International in Northern Ireland, said travelling for an abortion had not been “safe or viable” for many during the pandemic.

From a healthcare perspective, “later trimester abortions are more complex, so it is the women who should be travelling the least who are being made to travel”, added Naomi Connor, co-convener at the grassroots campaign group Alliance for Choice.

She said they have seen cases where women facing domestic violence or in coercive relationships were reluctant to make long journeys because they were “really anxious about anyone finding out”.

As in neighbouring Ireland, where an abortion ban was overturned in a 2018 referendum, religious conservatism is strong in Northern Ireland, both among Catholics and Protestants. This also led to a delay in legalising same-sex marriage.

In rural communities particularly, women have been hesitant to explicitly seek terminations because of stigma.

One refugee in Belfast, who fled her home country after a forced marriage, was told she would have to travel to receive an abortion.

But with limited knowledge of English and other restrictions, she was unable to make the journey, said Connor.

Abortion was only decriminalised in Northern Ireland in 2019 Niklas HALLE’N AFP

She was eventually helped, but there have been times when case workers have had to say nothing can be done.

“It’s heartbreaking,” said Connor.

Politics

Healthcare is a devolved issue for the Northern Ireland Assembly in Belfast.

But the main pro-UK party is currently refusing to join the power-sharing executive between unionists and nationalists in a row over post-Brexit trade.

Northern Ireland’s health minister Robin Swann claims he is unable to commission full abortion services without a functioning executive.

Individual health trusts that have stepped in are struggling due to limited funding.

“Since April 2020, when services were supposed to be commissioned, different individual health trusts have had to withdraw services due to a lack of resources,” said Connor.

The recent US Supreme Court decision to overturn the 1973 Roe v Wade ruling

The recent US Supreme Court decision to overturn the 1973 Roe v Wade ruling Samuel Corum AFP

Last year, one trust had to temporarily suspend its early medical abortion services for a year, redirecting patients elsewhere in Northern Ireland.

Campaigners also complain of a lack of public information about options for women before they are past their first 10 weeks of pregnancy.

Still, there is renewed hope that abortion services may finally be commissioned, despite the current political paralysis.

MPs in the UK parliament in London recently voted to implement access to services in Northern Ireland, passing the Abortion (Northern Ireland) Regulations 2022.

They allow the UK’s Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis to step in, controversially overriding the authority of the devolved administration in Belfast.

Teggart welcomed the regulations as a “very necessary move”.

“For the health minister (Swann) it is a damning indictment on his failure to prioritise the health of women and girls,” she said.

Lewis wants services to be “delivered and available to all across Northern Ireland as soon as possible”.

Swann was “currently awaiting legal advice” on the implications of the new regulations, his department said.

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ROTHENBURGER: Council proves absurdity of politics on parking, code of conduct – CFJC Today Kamloops

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Why? Because, claimed Mayor Ken Christian, Coun. Dieter Dudy and others, it’s just fine that it’s flawed. If it’s not any good, it can be changed later. It’s the good intention that counts.

As Singh and Walsh challenged clause after clause in the proposed Code, the answer from corporate officer Natalie Garbay to most of their questions was that the wording came from a provincial working group template, or from other cities. Not exactly an explanation.

So, the Code went through as presented, almost unscathed. Not so with Singh’s parking proposal. According to Singh, reducing parking-space requirements would help both affordable housing and the fight against climate change.

This time, though, Christian, Dudy and others supported sending it to a committee because it’s vague and needs further discussion. According to Dudy, there was too much “ambiguity” in Singh’s motion. Christian noted that the idea hasn’t gotten much traction in the community and isn’t a priority.

Singh’s motion does, indeed, require further discussion, and I suspect Singh and the rest of council will back off of it entirely as public opposition grows.

But the Code of Conduct also needed further examination because it’s very poorly written and, in some respects, too restrictive. Yet that one, according to the majority, needed to get passed right now.

Sometimes, politics is simply absurd.

I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at mrothenburger@armchairmayor.ca.

Editor’s Note: This opinion piece reflects the views of its author, and does not necessarily represent the views of CFJC Today or Pattison Media.

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New York's Primaries Were Decided by Politics As Usual – New York Magazine

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Governor Kathy Hochul greets people during a campaign stop on a corner of Second Avenue and 86th Street on June 28.
Photo: Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

Even with earthshaking news sweeping the nation — notably, the recent Supreme Court rulings overturning decades-long laws governing abortion, environmental protection, and the carrying of concealed firearms — New Yorkers held decidedly ordinary primaries for most state offices last week. Politics is how democracies process change, and the basic rules apply to all kinds of change, be it commonplace or cataclysmic.

Rule one: Incumbency and the support of the political Establishment is often decisive. Governor Kathy Hochul, whose ten months in office were preceded by years of crisscrossing the state by car as lieutenant governor, has been making friends, cutting ribbons, and collecting IOUs for years. Since taking office last August, she’d had an incumbent’s power to hand out tax breaks, regulatory rulings, and cash grants, and could call in favors from Montauk to her hometown of Buffalo.

“She dominated what I like to call the iron triangle of New York Democratic primaries,” Democratic consultant Bruce Gyory told me. “It’s the minority vote at the base. It’s highly educated, professional women along one side, and white ethnics along the other. And she was able to win all three.”

On the Republican side, Representative Lee Zeldin was backed by nearly all of the state’s county-level party organizations, winning 85 percent of delegate votes at the GOP state convention in March. As the only elected official in the race, he gained the visibility that comes with the power to steer federal funding to different projects on Long Island, where he racked up huge majorities that powered him to victory.

While progressive candidates didn’t fare as well as they’d hoped, it’s worth noting that parts of New York have a left-leaning Establishment — and like their more mainstream counterparts, these mini-machines dutifully turned out their supporters and performed well in the Assembly primaries. In Manhattan, where Dick Gottfried is retiring after 52 years as the longest-serving Assembly member in state history, his handpicked successor, Tony Simone, was backed by nearly every incumbent on the west side, including Representative Jerry Nadler, State Senator Brad Hoylman, and City Councilman Erik Bottcher.

In Queens, the Democratic Socialists of America claimed a decisive victory for the Assembly seat left vacant by the retirement of Cathy Nolan. Juan Ardila won over 43 percent of the vote in a crowded field, thanks in part to the support of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, State Senator Jessica Ramos, and Councilmembers Tiffany Cabán, Shekar Krishnan, and Jennifer Gutiérrez. And Brooklyn’s DSA-backed incumbent, Phara Souffrant Forrest, won re-election with over 67 percent of the vote, as did self-identified socialist Emily Gallagher with about 80 percent.

In short, this was an ordinary primary in many respects, even coming just days after the repeal of New York’s concealed-carry law and the striking down of Roe v. Wade. People did not surge to the polls — but they didn’t stay away, either. Despite a lot of hand-wringing reporting about low-voter turnout — the Daily News called it “torpid” — Gyory says it’s “a bit of an optical illusion” that some journalists have misinterpreted by not taking into account an explosion of new voter registration over the last 30 years, thanks in part to registration drives and motor-voter laws that make it easy to sign up while renewing driver’s licenses.

“Historically, it’s not a low turnout. It’s actually going to probably hit 900,000. It’s going to wind up being the third-highest gubernatorial turnout since we started having these primaries,” Gyory told me. “The highest turnout ever was just shy of 1.6 [million], four years ago. The previous high was 1.2 million, the famous Koch-Cuomo gubernatorial primary of 1982.”

The state Board of Elections website records over 864,000 votes cast in the Democratic primaries, with another 446,000 among Republicans for a total of over 1.3 million.

As we gear up for congressional primaries in August and the general election in November, it remains to be seen whether big national questions — including responses to the Supreme Court rulings, and the ongoing, explosive revelations from the investigation of the January 6 insurrection — will dominate local contests.

“I believe that come September, October, that the top two issues of this campaign will be the same as the top two issues of this campaign today, and that’s crime and public safety and the economy,” Zeldin told me. “They are as personal as it gets for a broad range of New Yorkers who are seriously thinking about fleeing.”

As an anti-abortion candidate who celebrated the repeal of Roe v. Wade and would not say publicly whether he thinks Donald Trump actually won the 2020 presidential election, Zeldin is out of step with most New Yorkers, who polls say support abortion rights and gun control. His path to victory depends on New Yorkers focusing on local issues like inflation and rising crime rates.

Zeldin has his work cut out for him — but he’s not wrong to assume that, even at a time of major upheavals, New Yorkers will focus on pocketbook issues and the need to walk the streets in safety. We should expect him and Hochul to spend the rest of the year making promises, raising money, doling out government funds, calling in favors, lining up local political clubs, and generally doing what wins elections: politics as usual.

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