April 24th, 2024

RCMP to release progress report on response to inquiry into 2020 mass shooting

By Michael MacDonald, The Canadian Press on March 27, 2024.

Assistant Commissioner Dennis Daley, commanding officer of the Nova Scotia RCMP, prepares to speak to reporters in Truro, N.S., on Thursday, March 30, 2023. The RCMP is expected to provide an update today on progress the national police force has made in responding to the inquiry into the 2020 Nova Scotia mass shooting. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese

HALIFAX – The RCMP are expected to provide an update today on progress they have made in responding to the inquiry into the 2020 Nova Scotia mass shooting that killed 22 people.

The report from RCMP commissioner Mike Duheme comes three months after the police force’s self-imposed deadline passed, and almost a year after the public inquiry released its final report.

The federal-provincial Mass Casualty Commission investigated the worst mass shooting in modern Canadian history and issued 130 non-binding recommendations to improve public safety, a majority of which apply in some form to the Mounties.

Earlier this month, the RCMP’s website was quietly updated to show it has responded to two key recommendations – one dealing with critical incident response training and the other with management culture.

In terms of critical incident response, the inquiry’s three commissioners found that when the shooting started in Portapique, N.S., on the night of April 18, 2020, the Mounties were quick to discount witness statements and were so poorly managed that officers were always one step behind the killer.

As for the RCMP’s selection of senior officers and staff, the inquiry’s final report – released March 30, 2023 – cited a 2015 task force that concluded RCMP management culture discourages leaders from relaying bad news up the chain of command and from making decisions that may be criticized.

“We identified evidence in our proceedings that suggest the continuing operation of this tendency today,” the inquiry report said, adding that the 2020 Bastarache Report on sexual harassment in the RCMP found that women managers were not always given the same respect as their male colleagues.

The inquiry found that RCMP management culture thwarts institutional learning and accountability. It cited a long list of “unhealthy patterns,” including: a resistance to acknowledging errors; a lack of resources for responding to criticism and a resistance to acknowledging the existence of sexism and systemic racism within the ranks.

“The RCMP will not resolve these problems until it can recognize the persistence of these problems within its management culture and address the tendency to resist acknowledging that errors have been made,” the inquiry’s 3,000-page report says.

As a result, the commission of inquiry asked the RCMP to explain how they will change their criteria for selecting senior managers “to disrupt the unhealthy aspects of the RCMP’s management culture.”

The RCMP’s new report cites a long list of previous changes implemented after previous reports raised similar criticism. And the Mounties have also posted online a “three pillar” plan to reshape management culture and human resources practices.

“Transforming workplace culture is a priority for the RCMP, including instilling a healthy management culture,” the RCMP report says. “Regarding leadership, while much work has been done, it is recognized that there are opportunities for improvement in a number of areas.”

The federal-provincial inquiry found widespread failures in how the RCMP responded on April 18-19, 2020, when a man disguised as a Mountie and driving a replica RCMP cruiser fatally shot 22 people during a 13-hour rampage through northern and central Nova Scotia.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 27, 2024.

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