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N.S. premier hopeful new head of RCMP will keep mass shooting public inquiry top priority

The premier says the findings of the public inquiry into the Nova Scotia mass shooting need to remain a top priority despite the departure of the current head of the RCMP.

Premier Tim Houston says the retirement of Brenda Lucki next month should not impact the work of the Mass Casualty Commission.

Lucki announced Wednesday she’s stepping down as the commissioner of the national police force, vacating the post just two weeks before the inquiry’s final report.

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Houston is hopeful a new commissioner, once appointed, will listen carefully to the recommendations presented in the final report on the mass shooting in April 2020, which claimed 22 lives.

“That tragedy changed our province forever,” Houston says, “and I’m hoping it leads to changes in policing and law enforcement. I look forward to the new commissioner and I hope that they’re of the same mind.”

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Following Lucki’s announcement, there was no immediate word about the government’s plan to fill the commissioner’s job.

Justice Minister Brad Johns says the new leader will bear the responsibility for carrying out the report’s recommendations for the police force. He hopes to see “a good person and capable of doing the job … and certainly recognizing the Mass Casualty Commission and that report coming forward at the end of March .”

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Lucki announced her departure on Wednesday, saying she had done her “best” since being appointed to the role in 2018. She said the personal decision to retire was not an easy one to make. She’ll step down on March 17.

Premier Houston was asked if she should have waited until the report was released.

“I don’t have an opinion on it. She made a personal decision,” he said. “The federal government will appoint a new commissioner.”

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The opposition says Lucki’s departure points to larger issues around policing and reform.

“I expect in the final report from the public inquiry we’ll hear a lot about the RCMP and changes that are required within the RCMP,” says Nova Scotia NDP Leader Claudia Chender. “In terms of Ms. Lucki in particular, she’s the face of a force that clearly has a lot of work to do. Hopefully whoever steps into that position will be able to do the work and we await the findings of the Mass Casualty Commission.”

The Nova Scotia Liberal Leader agrees.

“This is a really important issue for Nova Scotians, it’s an important issue for the RCMP,” Zach Churchill says, “and for the conversation that’s happening overall with law enforcement.”

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Lucki’s leadership has faced intense scrutiny over allegations of political interference in the Nova Scotia mass shooting.

Some RCMP officials have accused her of pressuring staff to release details on the weapons used by the shooter ahead of federal gun control legislation.

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Lucki has denied those allegations.

The public inquiry’s final report is set to be released on March 31.

– with a file from Global News’ Sean Boynton

&copy 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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