1. Mass Casualty Commission
The public proceedings of the Mass Casualty Commission resume this week. Today, RCMP Assistant Commissioner (Retired) Lee Bergerman will testify. If needed, her testimony will continue tomorrow, but when that is complete, RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki will take the stand, and testify into Wednesday or Thursday, as needed.
Much of the national media attention has been focused on the weapons used by the killer, and whether Lucki interfered with the local investigation for political purposes. Yesterday, Stephen Kimber weighed in on that issue:
In the US, where mass shootings are common, identifying weapons used by shooters is usually one of the first pieces of information we learn.
But the fact is that Canadian police did not always jealously guard such information either. When a man murdered 14 women at Montreal’s Ecole Polytechnique on December 6, 1989, for example, the public was quickly informed that the weapon he used was a Ruger Mini-14, which, it turned out, was also one of the weapons of choice for Nova Scotia’s mass killer.
Blake Brown, a Saint Mary’s University history professor and author of Arming and Disarming: A History of Gun Control in Canada, told CP’s Michael MacDonald, “I don’t understand why that information can’t be released faster by police. One of the themes of the Mass Casualty Commission has been highlighting the tendency of the RCMP to hand out very little information and to treat the public like they don’t need to know much.”
For what it’s worth, RCMP Nova Scotia Superintendent Darren Campbell testified that in the early stages of the investigation, RCMP investigators didn’t know where the investigation might lead, and it was possible that undercover agents might have been used to approach suspects. In that case, if the suspects revealed detailed information about the weapons… but come on — the sources of the weapons was detailed in RCMP affidavits to obtain search warrants just hours after the murders ended, and it was clear who provided them, and how. In any case, undercover agents were never used.
I’m not terribly interested in the Lucki/political interference angle of the story. As Kimber notes, although Bill Blair obtained the information about the weapons, neither he nor Justin Trudeau used that knowledge as part of their gun control campaign, so there was no political effect.
For me, I’ll be more interested in what Lucki has to say about the “psychological autopsy” of the perpetrator. As I wrote last month, compiling a post-mortem psychological profile of a murderer sounds like junk science to me, and is of a piece with the declaration, in the early morning hours of April 19, 2020, when the killer was still very much alive and about to resume his murderous spree, that he was “closure motivated.” This had real-world implications, as police assumed the killer was dead in the woods in Portapique, and that likely led to a lax attitude about looking for the killer elsewhere and warning the public about the danger.
Cops are not psychologists. The cops responding to Portapique were not trained in psychology, never read a text book about psychology, never even talked with the killer to know the first thing about him. And yet they came to broad understandings about him that affected the response to Portapique, and that failed response led to nine more people being murdered on April 19.
That’s worth talking about in detail.
“Nova Scotia is considering expanding the role of private clinics to help clear the province’s surgical backlog, Health Minister Michelle Thompson said Friday,” reports : for the CBC
“I do feel at this point in time, if there is capacity in a private/public partnership, that we do need to address that and we want to shorten the wait times for Nova Scotians, we want to improve access,” Thompson told CBC News in an interview.
She said she’s paying close attention to Ontario’s latest move to expand the work of private health-care providers paid for under the province’s medicare plan.
Is anyone surprised that a PC government that was elected with the promise to “fix health care” would embrace privatization?
To underscore the point, Houston met with Ontario Premier Doug Ford yesterday, and Ford gleefully posted photos of he and Houston shaking hands and sitting down at conference tables, which shows they’re both smart, I guess. Ford’s government has made similar comments about privatization of health care services.
3. Jeremey Mackenzie
Speaking of shaking hands, at a campaign event in Dartmouth Saturday, Pierre Poilievre shook hands with Jeremey Mackenzie (some say the event occurred in Stellarton, but Poilievre tweeted out that it was in Dartmouth).
(In media reports and court records, Mackenzie’s first named is spelled both Jeremy and Jeremey.)
Mackenzie, says Press Progress, is a “far-right extremist”:
Mackenzie is widely identified as the leader of the “Diagolon,” a far-right militia-style accelerationist group that was linked to a plot to murder RCMP officers during last winter’s convoy blockade at Coutts, Alberta.
An intelligence report produced by the Integrated Terrorism Assessment Centre recently obtained by PressProgress explicitly names Mackenzie as one of the “key individuals” associated with “ideologically motivated violent extremist” groups who were present during the Ottawa convoy occupation.
“Violent extremists who support or are attending the protests include a range of IMVE adherents including white nationalists, accelerationists, separatists, radical libertarians, conspiracy theorists and others who justify violence to achieve ideological objectives,” the report states.
“We assess the presence of key anti-government IMVE adherents, such as … Canadian accelerationist influencer Jeremy Mackenzie and others, is indicative of a much larger attendance at convoy protests by IMVE adherents over recent weeks.”
Poilievre’s campaign says the Dartmouth event was open to the public, and Poilievre, like all politicians, shakes hands with whoever wants to shake his hand. They say Poilievre does not know Mackenzie and does not adhere to his ideology.
I think it’s probably true that Poilievre hadn’t previously talked with Mackenzie. Who knows what Poilievre actually believes — he’s the very definition of “elite,” but he clearly is consciously tapping into the supposedly anti-elitist sentiment of white supremacists and the like.
In any event, let’s talk about Jeremey Mackenzie.
In January 2022, Mackenzie posted a video on social media showing himself drunkenly waving a gun around with two other people in the room.
According to an affidavit signed by RCMP Constable David Peck, which was filed with the court in order to obtain a search warrant, the video was filmed on Mackenzie’s cell phone, at the Iron Mountain Wilderness Cabins in Whycocomagh, about 180 kilometres from Mackenzie’s home in Pictou. The other two people in the video were William Haverstock and Jessica Kleinherenbrink, a couple who own and operate Iron Mountain.
At the time, Mackenzie had two restricted semi-automatic pistols registered to him — a Glock 17 and a Smith & Wesson M&P. Haverstock had seven restricted firearms registered to him, but not a Glock 17. The weapon Mackenzie was waiving around in the video was a Glock 17.
But Mackenzie’s Glock was registered to his home in Pictou (he lives with his parents on High Street), and he had no authorization to transport the weapon away from his residence.
Peck explained that Mackenzie is an Afghanistan vet, and has PTSD.
The video clearly shows Mackenzie is drunk and is uttering phrases like “I just go where the gun tells me to go” and “Silent majority! Diagonal!” At one point, Mackenzie points the gun at Haverstock’s head, and Haverstock closes his eyes and flinches. At the end of the video, Mackenzie drinks more whiskey and “started to become physically ill,” presumably meaning he threw up.
Besides that, Mackenzie’s weapon had a restricted high-capacity magazine, which was not registered.
With evidence of the illegal transport of restricted weapons and improper handling of weapons, Peck obtained a search warrant for Mackenzie’s home in Pictou.
Here’s what was seized at Mackenzie’s home:
Mackenzie faces 13 firearms charges. He is next to appear in court is September on those charges.
Meanwhile, as he was facing those charges, in March Mackenzie showed up at a protest outside the Fall River home of Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang to, I don’t know, get to the truth or some such bullshit, and was charged by the RCMP with Criminal Harassment, Mischief, Harassing Phone Calls and Intimidation of a Health Professional. At the time, I wrote:
You’ll note the emblem on MacKenzie’s sleeve in the photo above. This appears to be the Viking compass. Viking symbolism has been expropriated by many white supremacists and others on the far right:
Viking symbols are everywhere among the ultra-right. When the Unite the Right rally took place in Charlottesville in 2017, some protesters carried banners featuring the Norse god Thor’s hammer, popular among the Nazis and neo-Nazi groups.
The perpetrator of New Zealand’s Christchurch massacre last year wrote, “See you in Valhalla” — referring to the great hall where heroes of Norse mythology go after they die-at the end of his manifesto.
Closer to home, the Soldiers of Odin-a Finnish white supremacist movement named after another Norse god in 2015-have recently emerged in Alberta and throughout Canada.
White supremacists began idealizing the Vikings in the late 19th century in the United States. At that time, Italian Americans were using their newfound political power to get Christopher Columbus recognized as the “discoverer of America” and to be celebrated with holidays. White supremacists didn’t think of the “swarthy” Italians as truly white, so pushed for the Vikings to be named the “true” and earlier discoverers of America.
Of course, America was actually “discovered” by people many thousands of years before Vikings or Italians even existed. Besides that, modern-day Norwegians find the association with white supremacy repugnant.
The photo of MacKenzie was posted on Twitter in January. I’m told that he was at a gun shop. Also in January, MacKenzie “allegedly pointed a pistol at another man’s head in Cape Breton last month while he was drunk on whisky,” reported Chris Lambie, citing search warrant documents. MacKenzie was subsequently arrested.
According to the website antihate.ca:
MacKenzie is the original creator of the concept of Diagolon, a fictional country running diagonally from Alaska southeast towards Florida. Stating this new country would encompass all the “sane” regions of North America, what began as a joke has broadened as a symbol for his larger community of supporters. United behind “ol’ slashy,” a black flag with a large white line cutting diagonally through the middle, supporters of his cause also have embraced MacKenzie’s phrase of “Gun Or Rope” when it comes to dealing with their ideological enemies, as well as the government.
In response to criticism, MacKenzie vehemently denies accusations of racism and antisemitism levelled against him and the digital community he presides over, regularly pointing to racialized members within it.
This despite pushing well-worn conspiracy theories about outsized Jewish control over global affairs and governance, his assertion that there is already a “race war” taking place within the United States, and mentions of the “slow genocide” against white European people within the west.
“Fantastic, but be peaceful as you’re being massacred, as the slow-motion genocide continues,” he said during a July 2021 stream.
“Accelerate, accelerate, there’s no way out. This is going to come to total shit, so let’s just get it over with. If you’re going to be in a fight, hit first, Vladimir Putin said that.”
Other streams from MacKenzie include overt threats against political and public figures, including health officials.
There’s a January trial scheduled on the harassing charges.
We’re not done.
Global News reporter Rachel Gilmore is one of many mainly women reporters who have recently been targeted by a campaign of hate. And specifically, Mackenzie has been posting about Gilmore, calling her a “fucking bitch” and such. Tweets Gilmore:
And here are some of Mackenzie’s posts about the my reporting as well as journalists writ large, reacting to a campaign of threats a number of reporters have been receiving. pic.twitter.com/TxRU17dD9C
— Rachel Gilmore (@atRachelGilmore) August 20, 2022
To recap: there is in Nova Scotia a man facing multiple illegal weapons charges who harasses women. And he’s an Afghanistan vet with PTSD.
4. Peace tournament
“After a COVID hiatus in 2020 and 2021, the Peace Basketball Tournament returned to Preston and Halifax on Thursday,” reports Matthew Byard:
The tournament was inspired, in part, to help rally against violence in the Black community and the trauma it causes.
This is the fourth Peace Basketball Tournament and the first to be held in three years. It runs from Thursday to Sunday at the North Preston Community Centre, the East Preston Recreation Centre, and in Halifax at the Community YMCA, the University of King’s College, and Saint Mary’s University (SMU).
Tournament co-founder and organizer Miranda Cain spoke with the Halifax Examiner at the North Preston Rec Centre on Thursday’s opening night.
Raised in North Preston, Cain said that when she was growing up, a staple in her life was the former annual Black Invitational Basketball Tournament put on by the former Provincial Black Basketball Association.
She moved away from the province for a few years, and in 2013 the tournament — which had been in existence for more than 40 years —stopped running.
Two or three years after moving back home, Cain noticed “there was something missing.”
“There was no more Halifax meet Beechville meet North Preston meet East Preston. Everybody was in their separate silos because the Provincial Black Basketball Tournament brought us together,” said Cain.
5. Eisner Cove
“About 30 people from two groups rallied outside the Halifax offices of a local developer on Friday demanding a “stop and swap” at the Eisner Cove Wetland in Dartmouth,” reports Suzanne Rent:
Earlier this week, one of the groups at the rally, Defend Eisner Cove Wetland, was at the wetland where its members tried to stop machinery from cutting down trees. As Zane Woodford reported in July, the provincial government gave approval to Clayton Developments to clear trees out earlier than planned at site, which has been designated as one of nine “special planning areas” for new attainable housing developments.
“We’re not just there to make trouble or to disrupt,” said Susan Van Iderstine from Defend Eisner Cove Wetland. “We also want to propose solutions. We also want to talk about a possible fix to all of this mess.”
Save Our Southdale Wetland Society was the other group at Friday’s rally. The two groups are proposing a “stop and swap” that would include stopping all the work at Eisner Cove wetland and returning that land to public use.
In exchange for stopping the work, the developer would get access to a piece of land that is not ecologically sensitive or environmentally valuable where they can build housing. Van Iderstine said there are already parcels of land in HRM that would be a fit for a swap, including Shannon Park, the former oil refinery, and large vacant lots along Main Street.
Executive Standing Committee (Monday, 10am, online) — agenda
Halifax Regional Council (Tuesday, 10am, City Hall) — agenda includes a second reading of Proposed By-law N-207, to change the end hour for construction noise to 8 p.m., Monday to Friday.
No meetings all week.
In the harbour
02:0: Vistula Maersk, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for Bremerhaven, Germany
05:00: Atlantic Sun, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for Baltimore, Maryland
05:00: Atlantic Sail, ro-ro container, arrives at Fairview Cove from Norfolk, Virginia
08:00: MSC Carouge, container ship, sails from Pier 41 for New York
15:00: One Majesty, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Norfolk, Virginia
16:00: Sea Cougar, oil tanker, sails from Imperial Oil for sea
21:30: Atlantic Sail sails for Hamburg, Germany
22:30: Tropic Lissette, cargo ship, sails from Pier 42 for Palm Beach, Florida
08:00: Glovertown Spirit, barge, and Lois M, tug, move from Sydport to North Sydney Osprey dock
14:00: MM Newfoundland, barge, and Lois M, tug, sail from Sydport for sea
17:30: CSL Kajika, bulker, arrives at Coal Pier (Sydney) from Houston
Who knew that the end of the world would be accompanied by such wonderful weather?