RCMP Pressured to Apologize for Nova Scotia Mass Shooting Errors

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The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) has been facing repeated appeals to formally apologize for their actions – and lack thereof – during the tragedy of Nova Scotia’s mass shooting. An internal memo recently released suggests that senior officials intended to issue such an apology soon after the Mass Casualty Commission issued its concluding report in spring.

While the police force has skirted around offering a direct apology, it yet remains unvoiced, and a variety of reasons may account for this reluctance.

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The much-anticipated report did not expressly demand an apology from the national police force of Canada. Even so, it recognized a number of failings and incorrect actions during the worst mass shooting in the annals of Canadian history, and advised the police to adopt a policy of owning up to their mistakes.

The Assistant Commissioner, Dennis Daley, approached the threshold of an admission during a segment on CTV News, but stopped short of fully stepping over.

“Our members and employees did the best they could,” Daley stated, adding, “We’ve apologized to family members who felt that the response didn’t meet their needs, and for that, I am truly sorry.”

Despite this, it appears internal demands within the force advocated for a more comprehensive apology. An internal memo from RCMP Assistant Commissioner Sorab Rupa, published by The Globe and Mail, strongly urged for an acknowledgment of the RCMP’s failures, punctuated by a display of accountability, in a “timely and decisive” fashion.

Representatives for the victims’ families have expressed concerns that the relative silence from the RCMP reveals a hesitation for reform.

Michael Scott, a lawyer for several of the families, noted that the crucial step towards real change includes the recognition of past failures. “Like everyone else, we’re waiting to see what happens next in terms of implementing some of the recommendations from the commission. We’ve not heard much from the RCMP directly, and to some extent, that’s quite discouraging.”

Making no secret of his feelings, criminology professor Michael Boudreau from Saint Thomas University expressed his disappointment. “The RCMP has always been very reluctant to admit any fault or any wrongdoing,” he said, citing various instances including the Moncton shooting, harassment within the ranks and now the tragedy at Portapique.

Boudreau hinted at a broader issue within the organization. “It’s also indicative of an organization at the upper echelons, not at the rank and file level, that is impervious to change and believes the RCMP remains the best police force, when it really isn’t.”

Despite the lack of an official response from the RCMP about a potential apology, the recently appointed Public Safety Minister, Dominic LeBlanc, expects a formal apology to be forthcoming, though he did not elaborate as to why it has been delayed.

The public awaits the RCMP’s response to the MCC Final Report, slated to be updated on their website in autumn, indicating a move towards transparency and acknowledgement of past failures. As Assistant Commissioner Daley noted, “I do promise Nova Scotians that the RCMP will take each recommendation and act upon it to the best of our ability.”