The federal deputy justice minister has defended his division’s legal professionals after a former Supreme Court docket choose raised “critical considerations” in regards to the recommendation they gave to a high-ranking RCMP officer within the Nova Scotia mass capturing inquiry, together with to not discuss sure proof until particularly requested.
Thomas Cromwell, the director of authorized counsel for the general public inquiry into the April 2020 bloodbath, wrote to Division of Justice lawyer Lori Ward two weeks in the past about Chief Supt. Chris Leather-based’s testimony final month.
“Some elements of his testimony have given rise to some critical considerations that I need to increase with you,” wrote Cromwell, who sat on the Supreme Court docket of Canada from 2008 to 2016.
The Aug. 5 letter was disclosed by the Mass Casualty Fee this week. It’s main the inquiry into the mass capturing when 22 folks, together with a pregnant girl, had been killed by a gunman as he drove a mock police automotive throughout the province.
Leather-based, who was the pinnacle of prison operations in Nova Scotia on the time of the shootings, has testified he obtained a name from RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki on the night of April 22, 2020, shortly after the killings. He stated Lucki requested him to ship her particulars in regards to the weapons utilized by the shooter, and he did ship her a listing for inside functions solely.
However Leather-based’s name and e mail correspondence with Lucki did not come up in a July 6 interview with inquiry legal professionals. Leather-based testified on July 28 that legal professionals with the federal Division of Justice, together with Ward, informed him to not “proactively disclose” his dialog and emails with Lucki.
“I knew from my notes and emails I had ready and submitted that it was clearly related to what would turn into the notorious cellphone name of April 28  and was troubled by that and wished their recommendation and was suggested to take a reactive posture,” Leather-based stated.
When he testified final month, Leather-based informed the fee he had additionally sought “impartial authorized counsel” after the dialogue with the justice division legal professionals.
Questions round whether or not Lucki was underneath political strain to launch the specifics of the gunman’s firearms have swirled for weeks, ever since Chief Supt. Darren Campbell’s notes from the April 28, 2020, name had been launched as a part of the inquiry.
Campbell wrote the commissioner was “unhappy and dissatisfied” and “had promised the minister of Public Security and the Prime Minister’s Workplace that the RCMP, [we] would launch this data.”
On Could 4, 2020, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau introduced a ban on some 1,500 makes and fashions of firearms, together with two of the weapons used within the Nova Scotia mass capturing. At the moment, police had not launched the details about the weapons used within the assaults.
The allegations have resulted in parliamentary hearings to deal with allegations of potential political interference, together with a listening to in Ottawa on Tuesday.
If Leather-based’s testimony is correct, Cromwell stated it is regarding that federal legal professionals would have given this recommendation when their shoppers have the “obligation” to assist the fee obtain their mandate within the public curiosity.
“Whereas I perceive that this form of recommendation is customary for witnesses in civil litigation … or at trial, it’s in my opinion not acceptable to provide this recommendation to a senior officer of the RCMP taking part on this fee of inquiry,” Cromwell stated.
He additionally requested for Ward’s assurance that this form of recommendation “has not and won’t be given to different witnesses” showing for interviews or testimony earlier than the fee.
“Relatively, I’d hope and count on that witnesses could be inspired to share the related data that they’ve,” Cromwell wrote.
Within the Ottawa listening to Tuesday, MPs requested Campbell about his conversations with justice legal professionals. He stated he didn’t get the identical recommendation as Leather-based about how you can testify.
Cromwell additionally requested Ward whether or not different “clearly related materials” has been held again by justice legal professionals as a result of it was not particularly requested, and famous that with regards to paperwork the fee’s common subpoena stays in impact.
In an e mail to Cromwell just a few days in a while Aug. 9, 2022, Ward stated Leather-based’s testimony in regards to the recommendation he’d been given by justice legal professionals “can solely be the results of a misunderstanding.”
“Counsel didn’t present such recommendation,” Ward stated.
Ward stated Leather-based’s emails displaying that he despatched the firearms particulars to the assistant RCMP commissioner, who then despatched them to Lucki, had been disclosed to the fee on Could 19, 2021. She additionally stated notes of the April 28, 2020, assembly had been disclosed by that time and the assembly’s context was already out in public — so there would have been no “logical cause” to advise Leather-based to not converse freely on the problem.
The one time they suggested Leather-based to chorus from providing data was when he stated the April 28 assembly with Lucki was additionally introduced up in an inside office evaluation in Nova Scotia, Ward wrote.
François Daigle, deputy minister of Justice and deputy Legal professional Normal of Canada, echoed Ward’s place earlier than the Home of Commons committee Tuesday.
Daigle stated for the reason that justice legal professionals had not heard something in regards to the inside assessment till Leather-based introduced it up, their recommendation was “do not increase it if they do not increase it.”
Justice legal professionals additionally did not study of Leather-based’s name with Lucki on April 22 till he testified to that publicly, Daigle stated, so for Leather-based to counsel the justice division informed him to not convey up a gathering they did not find out about “would not make sense.”
“My conclusion is that he misunderstood the recommendation. Our recommendation was solely particularly with respect to the … report as a result of we did not know something about it,” Daigle stated.
Ward wrote that it is “important” to notice that when it got here to senior officer’s interviews, the fee counsel had reminded them to inform the RCMP officers they need to concentrate on “answering the questions posed” as a result of time was brief.
Because of this, Ward stated justice legal professionals would have shared that recommendation with Leather-based “with the caveat that he ought to be happy to share no matter extra data he believed to be related.”
However Leather-based’s recollection of the recommendation additionally alarmed Bruce Pitt-Payne of British Columbia, a retired RCMP officer.
He stated this can be a prime instance of battle of curiosity “rearing its ugly head,” and reveals that justice division legal professionals shouldn’t be representing events with various pursuits like Leather-based, Lucki, federal ministers and the prime minister.
“All might be in battle right here due to this setup,” Pitt-Payne stated.
As an alternative, Pitt-Payne stated separate justice legal professionals with separate privilege ought to be assigned to every of these events. He stated selections are at the moment being made “that are not essentially within the curiosity of the investigation.”
Pitt-Payne has filed an official criticism about Ward’s conduct with the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society, citing her recommendation to Leather-based and alleged battle of curiosity.
Given the size of the inquiry to analyze one of many worst massacres in Canadian historical past, Pitt-Payne stated it will be a disgrace if the fee wasn’t capable of meet their targets by means of “unethical authorized video games.”
“My worry is that one thing is likely to be coated up in an effort to defend one of many [justice department’s] entities, which can most likely be larger up the meals chain than the Chris Leathers and the Darren Campbells,” Pitt-Payne stated.
“That, I believe, ought to be everyone’s concern when you’ve got such an necessary fee happening.”
35 pages of notes held again by justice legal professionals
The fee has additionally launched emails between Cromwell and Ward on why the 4 essential pages of Campbell’s notes on the April 28, 2020, assembly with Lucki had been initially lacking when the Division of Justice initially despatched them to the fee, with out rationalization.
On June 22, Cromwell requested why the justice division didn’t inform the fee about these key pages, and in addition requested for whether or not some other supplies had been at the moment being held again and being checked for “privilege.”
Ward agreed in a June 24 e mail that that they had not defined they might be holding again pages of Campbell’s notes and so they “ought to have achieved so.” She stated at that time, of the 35 pages of senior officers’ notes initially held again to verify for privilege, solely three pages remained underneath assessment from Chief Supt. Janis Grey who oversaw the Halifax RCMP district and is now retired.
It seems that as of Tuesday, all of Grey’s notes have been posted on-line by the fee.