Photo: Joan Baxter

The RCMP has claimed it did its best in trying to deal with the Nova Scotia mass killer on the weekend of April 18 and 19, but a reconstruction of events by the Halifax Examiner strongly suggests that the police force made no attempt to save lives by confronting the gunman or stopping his spree at any point.

“Public safety and preservation of life are the primary duties of any peace officer,” said a former high ranking RCMP executive officer who asked for anonymity out of fear of retaliation by current and former law enforcement officials who are vigilant about any criticism of policing by those in the field. “As far as I can tell, the RCMP did nothing in Nova Scotia to save a life. They weren’t ready. It is embarrassing to me. The entire thing was an epic failure.”

Based upon interviews with other current and former police officers, witnesses, and law enforcement, and on emergency services transcripts, it seems clear that there was a collapse of the policing function on that weekend.

At no point in the two-day rampage did the RCMP get in front of the killer, who the Examiner identifies as GW. It also seems apparent that some Mounties, many of whom were called in from distant locales, were stunningly unaware of the geography and landmarks in the general area as the RCMP tried to keep up with GW.

Sources within the RCMP say a major problem was that communications between various RCMP units was never co-ordinated. “Everyone was on their own channels,” the source said. “Nothing was synchronized. They could have gone to a single channel and brought in the municipal cops as well, but for some reason they didn’t. It was like no one was in charge.”

Nova Scotia RCMP’s chief investigative officer, Chris Leather. Photo: Halifax Examiner.

RCMP Chief Supt. Chris Leather said in the days after the incident, that the RCMP was responding to a “dynamic and fluid” situation. “The fact that this individual had a uniform and a police car at his disposal certainly speaks to it not being a random act,” he said.

RCMP Support Services Officer Darren Campbell

In the days and weeks after the shootings, RCMP spokespersons repeatedly portrayed the gunman as a clever, psychotic criminal who had conceived what was essentially a brilliant plan to dupe police and evade capture. This subtly changed in an interview with the CBC earlier this month when Supt. Darren Campbell said: “There’s been no evidence that he was pre-planning [the mass shooting].”

As chaotic as the situation might have been for the RCMP, it is evident that the force failed to contain the shooter on the evening of April 18 at the initial multiple crime scenes in the Portapique Beach area of Central Nova Scotia. Thirteen people were murdered that night in which might well be called the first massacre. As has already been acknowledged, the RCMP did not set up roadblocks and perimeters around the area, even though it knew within minutes of arriving at the scene that the shooter was armed and likely on the loose in a replica Mountie police vehicle. 

On April 19, the second massacre took place. Unlike the night before, the RCMP knew beforehand who the suspect was, how he was dressed, and what kind of vehicle he was driving, a replica RCMP vehicle. The RCMP had sightings of the killer that morning, but again inexplicably did not seal off roads and highways and try to contain him after numerous 911 calls about sightings. Nine more people, including RCMP constable Heidi Stevenson, were murdered that day.

Preservation of human life is generally accepted to be the ultimate duty of all law enforcement officers in critical incident management. In basic training all Canadian police officers are taught to understand that when confronted with a life-threatening situation, the “priority of life” is demonstrated in this order: hostages, innocent by-standers, police/first responders, and suspects.

The RCMP has said that officers who responded to the original incident employed a tactic known as Immediate Action Rapid Deployment (IARD). With such training, as well-described on-line, the first responding officers are authorized to be proactive and disrupt a crime before criminals become “active shooters.” 

“We are taught to move past injured victims and attack the situation,” said one current RCMP member. “If the suspect is in a building, we use a T formation. If he’s outdoors, it’s a diamond. You typically need four officers, but, if need be, you can do it with fewer. The point is to neutralize the suspect as quickly as possible and prevent further injuries or deaths.”

In spite of what the RCMP has publicly stated, law enforcement sources and others have told the Examiner that the first RCMP responders did not actively intervene after arriving at the scene. After discovering a considerable number of slain victims around a property and on or near the road, the officers retreated to a point near the top of Portapique Beach Road where they congregated to wait for reinforcements.

Several RCMP and law enforcement sources say that a corporal from a nearby detachment who was the initial supervisor on the scene froze in place to the distress of other Mounties. The corporal later ran into nearby woods and turned off their flashlight and hid. That officer continues to be off work on stress leave.

Some veteran Mounties say that there were likely a number of factors which caused the first Mounties on the scene to hesitate. 

“It could have been inexperience. Maybe there was no backup. And then there’s always that Canada Labour Code thing,” said one long time Mountie.

He was referring to a $550,000 fine imposed on the RCMP in January 2018 for failing to properly arm and train its members after three Mounties were murdered and two injured in a shooting rampage in Moncton on June 4, 2014. Since the Labor Code decision, all RCMP members on patrol are trained in the use assault weapons. Every Mountie carries a Colt C8 rifle with a 30-shot magazine in their patrol cars. The high-powered gun is considered to be an upgrade to the American made AR-15.

“They were in a bad situation,” said the Mountie. ”Their duty is to save lives, but whoever the supervisor was, he or she might have been thinking that they could be criminally sanctioned and go to jail if they send officers into a life threatening situation. At the very least, it could be the end of their career. That’s how the Labour Code fine is interpreted, even if the police are supposed to be exempt from it in the performance of their duties.”

Others have suggested that the RCMP called what has become to be known in policing circles as a FIDO  Fuck it, drive on. What that means is that police deliberately avoid dangerous situations and delay or wait until everything has calmed down before making a move. 

Within an hour or so after the first call came in, Staff-Sergeant Allan Carroll took over as the officer-in-charge at a command centre set up in the RCMP detachment at Bible Hill. Sources say that Carroll did not attend the scene and it is not known precisely what he did or didn’t do.

It is noteworthy that his son, Jordan, an RCMP constable, was the second officer to arrive at the scene in Portapique. A knowledgeable source told the Examiner that Staff-Sgt. Carroll retired from the force three weeks ago. A party was held on June 27.  

As the Mounties maintained their static position at Portapique Beach Road, tensions were rising. “It was a shit show,” one Mountie said. 

Some of the frustrated Mounties wanted to follow their training, move forward and attack the situation. A RCMP tactical officer from Cole Harbour who was called to the scene became frustrated with the fact the Mounties were not attempting to move from their fixed position, save lives and possibly confront the killer. When that Mountie and another said they were going to do it on their own, an unknown supervisor told them: “If you go down there this will be your last shift in the RCMP.” The Mounties held their position.

The RCMP has refused to release its own communications from that night or transcripts of them, but interviews with and transcripts of communications from the nearby Truro Police Department and Emergency Medical Services along with other already noted sources helps fill in some of the gaps and paint a picture of the chaos inside the RCMP.

In the days after the shootings, the RCMP gave three different versions of how long it took the force to respond to the first 911 call which was at 10:01 p.m. First it said officers were on the scene in 12 minutes. On April 21, the RCMP said the first call came in at 10:30 p.m. The next day this was corrected to the call coming in at 10:01 p.m with the first Mounties arriving on the scene at 10:36 p.m. 

A local man was driving out of Portapique Beach Road when the killer in his replica cruiser approached him from the other direction and shot at him in his vehicle, wounding him in the arm. According to search warrant documents obtained by the Examiner, that man told investigators he drove up the road and met the cordon of Mounties waiting there. Police sources tell us that the man told Mounties that a man he believed was GW was in a marked police car had shot at him. This occurred sometime after 10:26 p.m. and before 10:35 p.m. when the vehicle was seen leaving the area driving across a field to Brown Loop which is about 200 metres to the east of where the police were positioned.

That man’s report is the first time, as far as we know, that the RCMP were aware that GW was in a recognizable police vehicle.

At or around 10:45 p.m., the killer and his vehicle later are identified as passing by a residence on his way to Debert where he arrived at 11:12 p.m. He parked his car behind a welding shop. He stayed there for six hours.

Until midnight, the fires raged but the RCMP held back the fire department. At least two people were hiding in the woods. One was Clinton Ellison, who had found his brother, Corrie, dead on the road and was stalked by the killer who was using a flashlight to try to find Ellison. The other was GW’s girlfriend, who later said she escaped being handcuffed in the back of another former police vehicle and ran into the woods where she reportedly stayed until 6:30 a.m.

The RCMP put out its first alert to the public on Twitter at 11:32 p.m. It read: “#RCMPNS remains on scene in #Portapique. This is an active shooter situation. Residents in the area, stay inside your homes & lock your doors. Call 911 if there is anyone on your property. You may not see the police but we are there with you #Portapique.” 

The RCMP did not alert the two municipal police forces on either side of Portapique, in Truro, 20 minutes away, and Amherst, 45 minutes away. This is significant because in both police forces most of the members have tactical training, a necessity in small departments where any officer could find themselves in a difficult incident without much or any notice. Both police forces had considerable numbers of officers primed and ready to go.

On the Truro Police communications log, at midnight the department received a call from someone at Colchester Regional Hospital reporting that they have a gunshot victim from Portapique and advised that the hospital is in lockdown.  

Truro Police Sgt. Rick Hickox called the RCMP six minutes later at 12:06 a.m. looking for an update.

The RCMP returned his call 49 minutes later at 12:55 a.m. to inform the Truro police of an active shooter in Portapique, although GW was long gone from that area.

Three minutes later at 12:58 a.m.: “RCMP dispatch calls advises shooter is associated to a former police car possibly with a decal on it.” 

Nine minutes later at 1:07 a.m. the RCMP issued a BOLO (Be on the lookout) for GW as an active shooter and suspect. The RCMP “ID’s some vehicles and girlfriend who is unaccounted for.”

At 1:07 a.m., therefore, the RCMP clearly knew the identity of the suspect and that he had killed many people. The RCMP was not sure about how many because the fires were still raging. Yet the RCMP advised police departments outside the scene to look for this incredibly dangerous person but did not themselves or ask anyone to put up roadblocks and lock down the area. Most importantly, in its tweets the RCMP fudged the markings on the car. The local man who was shot by GW told them it was a police car. The RCMP described it as a former police car with a Canada decal on it. Why the obfuscation?

Informed sources close to the investigation say it was around this time that that an Amherst Police officer was told that the RCMP did not need that force’s assistance because the Mounties had deemed the situation to be a murder-suicide and that the shooter was dead. Amherst Police Chief Dwayne Pike denied in an interview that such a conversation took place. When told about the chief’s denial, the original source persisted in his claim. “Municipal forces like Amherst depend upon the RCMP for lab services,” the source said. “They don’t want to say anything to piss off the Mounties because they will cut them off from the labs. That would cost the locals a lot of money. The RCMP plays rough and the local forces know it, so they keep their mouths shut.”

Chief Pike said recently in an email response from the Examiner that his force was still putting together a timeline of the force’s involvement that weekend. 

Back at Portapique Beach, the RCMP continued its investigations at the multiple crime sites. It obtained a search warrant for the killer’s properties at 200 and 287 Portapique Beach Road and 136 Orchard Beach Drive. In the search warrants it cited human remains as one of the things they were looking for.

The RCMP remained silent until 4:12 a.m., when it told Truro police about a Ford F150 truck associated to the suspect. Two minutes later at 4:14 a.m. it updated Truro about another vehicle. Ten minutes later at 4:24 a.m., the RCMP provides a list of vehicles the killer may be driving and noted:  “… he is still not in custody.” The RCMP didn’t know where the killer was. They knew he had killed about a dozen people by that time (some victims had not yet been located). But the force did not send out a provincial alert or set up roadblocks around the greater area.

In its communications the RCMP seemed to be suggesting that it was searching for GW, dead or alive, but it still has not done anything proactive to preserve life by obstructing his possible paths, if he were still alive. 

In the overnight hours the RCMP says it was busy clearing the various crime scenes in the Portapique Beach area. It is not clear how many Mounties were at the scene or where they came from, although some eventually were called in from New Brunswick. The RCMP has not been clear about any of this, stating that at times there were 30 members there and eventually “100 resources,” whatever that entails. Transfixed as it seemed to be with the nightmarish crime scenes, the force seemed to have put the notion that the killer was alive out of his collective thoughts. No one seems to know what he was doing in Debert. 

Some police sources have suggested that GW was perhaps in touch with the RCMP during this period. It is known that a RCMP crisis negotiator was on the scene in Portapique, but Supt. Campbell denied to the CBC in an unpublished interview that the force had any contact with the killer during the overnight period.

While the RCMP was putting out BOLOs as perhaps a hedge, by its actions over the next few hours, the force seemed to be convinced that shooter was no longer a threat. By 6:30 a.m. many of the Mounties on the scene at Portapique, including the staff-sergeant from Bible Hill, were allowed to go home after a long, gruelling night. 

Informed sources say that a new incident commander was scheduled to arrive at the scene at 10 a.m., possibly from “the Valley.”

In the interim, the RCMP put out a tweet at 8:02 a.m. reiterating that a shooter was still active in the Portapique area. This made the Truro police anxious. Corporal Ed Cormier immediately called the RCMP at 8:03 a.m. looking for an update. Four minutes later, at 8:07 a.m., the RCMP responded with an updated BOLO, elaborating on their tweet:  “[GW] arrestable for homicide. Advises of a fully marked RCMP car Ford Taurus. Could be anywhere in the province. Last seen loading firearms in vehicle. Vehicle photo will be sent when available.”

This information reportedly came from the killer’s girlfriend, who apparently came out of the woods at 6:30 a.m. However, this BOLO provided not much more information than the one at 12:58 a.m., five and a half hours earlier. It added the firearms, but any reader had to presume that GW had firearms in the earlier BOLO since he was described as a “shooter.”

Still, while telling other police agencies that GW “could be anywhere in the province,” so far as the public was told, GW was still in Portapique.

And the RCMP did not engage the local municipal police forces in Truro, Amherst, the New Glasgow area or even Halifax, an hour away. There are more than 900 Mounties employed in Nova Scotia in various capacities. Only a relative few of them were called in. The Mounties, however, did enlist the help of RCMP members in New Brunswick from Moncton and as far away as Fredericton, a three-hour drive at speed from Portapique. 

One of four H125 helicopters used by the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources. Photo: Communications Nova Scotia (CNW Group/Airbus)

Some expert police observers have said in interviews that the attempts to locate the killer and pursue him would have benefited from the use of a helicopter but the RCMP does not employ a helicopter in Nova Scotia. No helicopter was employed during the overnight hours, as well, to conduct a search.

“The RCMP has nine helicopters across the country, but as far as I know has never had one in Nova Scotia,” said a former executive level RCMP officer in an interview. “In renewing its contracts with the RCMP, it appears that the government of Nova Scotia has taken the position that a helicopter is an unneeded frill and dispensed with the idea. That was a big mistake. The questionable leadership of the RCMP and the questionable leadership of the government of Nova Scotia has failed to appreciate the changing dynamics of policing. The force needed a helicopter that weekend and didn’t have one. Twenty-two people died. Some of those lives could have been saved.”

Until 2001, the RCMP had an agreement with the provincial Department of Natural Resources, which commands four helicopters. In return, informed sources say, the DNR was allowed to use the RCMP’s forensic laboratories. The RCMP denied that use in 2001, so the DNR stopped allowing the RCMP the use of the helicopters.

In the intervening 19 years, whenever the RCMP required the use of a helicopter it either negotiated with the armed forces or it paid private rental companies for one.

The relaxed attitude of the RCMP in the early morning hours of Sunday was evidenced in a video shot by CBC at the RCMP command centre at the firehall in Great Village. Emergency response team members stand in a circle chatting away. A bored Mountie wielding a C8 rifle paces back and forth. Another Mountie helps local fire-fighters roll up some hose.

After this, things began to get even hairier.

An RCMP map shows GW’s route from 123 Ventura Drive in Debert to 2328 Hunter Road, Wentworth. Insets of still images taken from different videos show GW’s replica police car at 5:43am in Debert and passing a driveway on Hunter Road in Wentworth at 6:29am.

At 5:45 a.m. surveillance cameras record GW leaving the Debert Industrial Park as he began the 40-kilometre drive to Hunter Road in Wentworth. He is believed to have arrived at the house of Sean McLeod and Alanna Jenkins at around 6:30 a.m. McLeod and Jenkins were apparently murdered in their beds. McLeod’s two dogs were also killed. GW killed neighbour Tom Bagley who had come to investigate.

For some unknown reason, the killer lingered at the McLeod property for three hours. At some point he set the house on fire and left at 9:35 a.m. according to a security camera. It is not yet known what he was doing while he lingered there.

Lillian Hyslop. Photo: Facebook.

At 9:43 a.m., the Truro police were notified by the RCMP about “a dead woman in Wentworth on the road. Advises RCMP car was seen in the area and there was a loud bang.” The killer had shot retiree Lillian Hyslop who was out for her morning walk, unaware that he was in the area because an alert has just been issued as she left the house.

The RCMP flooded the area and thought it had the killer contained, even though callers to 911 had told them that he had been seen heading eastbound on Highway 4 toward Truro. Thinking it had the killer trapped, the RCMP again failed to mobilize in an attempt to find, stop or capture him. As it had in Portapique, the RCMP did not call for help from other forces, did not set up roadblocks, call for a helicopter or track, contain or attack GW. 

Instead of calling in local police for help, the Mounties relied on their own, some from far away who were entirely unfamiliar with the territory and couldn’t find roads. One couldn’t find the RCMP building in Bible Hill just outside Truro. Another indicated to a Truro police dispatcher that he didn’t realize that there was a hospital in Truro.

Further evidence of the communications disconnect between Mounties and their commanders and between Mounties and other police forces was how messages about what was going on in Wentworth were disseminated. 

At 9:46 a.m., a RCMP officer at the Colchester Regional Hospital told Truro Constable Cormier that the force believed it had the killer pinned down in Wentworth. Two minutes later Truro Constable Thomas Whidden reported that that he had heard informally from the RCMP that the killer was headed to Truro. The RCMP was not formally engaging the Truro Police.

Then, at 10 a.m., RCMP Chief Supt. Chris Leather, the number two Mountie in the province and the chief of criminal operations, further added to the ball of confusion. He sent an e-mail to Truro Police Chief Dave McNeil that the RCMP had the shooter pinned down in Wentworth. But that wasn’t true. What Leather later told reporters is that he had meant to Onslow, 30 kilometres to the south of Wentworth, an 8-minute or so drive west of Truro.  

By now the killer was heading back to the Debert area where he had spent the overnight parked behind a garage in the industrial park. Despite the fact that 13 people had been murdered, just west of there in Portapique, there were still no roadblocks or impediments to his travel.

At 9:48 a.m., GW visited the house of a couple he knew who lived on the 2900 block of Highway 4, in Debert, just north of the intersection with Highway 104.  The couple hid under their bed, a gun cocked and ready. The killer backed off and continued moving south. GW left without harming them, and the couple called 911.

At 10:04 a.m. the RCMP sent out a tweet asking people to avoid the Hidden Hilltop Campground in Glenholme, which is near the couple’s home. But GW wasn’t there. He had moved on to Plains Road in Debert, where he killed Heather O’Brien and Kristen Beaton, two Victorian Order of Nurses who were driving in separate cars. The RCMP later said that the killer pulled them over and later still corrected that statement, saying he hadn’t. The force has yet not explained what really happened.

Near Onslow, the killer passed a Mountie who was driving the other way. The unnamed Mountie thinking that he had just seen the suspect is reported to have turned around to pursue him, but lost sight of the killer. There was no RCMP back up in the area.

Although the killer had been spotted,  the RCMP did not issue a province wide alert or take any action to impede or stop the killer with the ultimate intention of preserving life. 

The killer then headed to Truro where he drove down Walker, Esplanade, and Willow streets between 10:16 and 10:19 a.m. and then headed south out of town toward Brookfield. The Truro police were entirely unaware that he had done that until video surfaced later that week.

Meanwhile, the RCMP finally had negotiated the use of a helicopter from the Department of Natural Resources. A source close to the DNR said that department was told that the helicopter would be used to scout the Portapique Beach Road fire scenes to ensure that the fires had not spread into the woods. The helicopter with a Mountie on board took off for Portapique. The pilot was never instructed to hunt for the killer in his readily identifiable mock RCMP cruiser — it was the only one on the road in the area that featured a push bar or ram package over its front bumper.

Back in the Truro area, more than 12 hours since the first alarm went in at Portapique Beach Road, the RCMP were still playing catch-up. At 10:21 a.m., the force tweeted that GW was in the Central Onslow and Debert area “in a vehicle that may resemble what appears to be an RCMP vehicle & may be wearing what appears to be an RCMP uniform.” By then, he was long gone, but the tweet or whatever else the RCMP was saying in its internal communications may well have provoked one of the strangest known incidents that day.

The Onslow Belmont Fire Hall.
The Onslow Belmont Fire Hall. Photo: Jennifer Henderson Credit: Jennifer Henderson

Around 10:30 a.m., two Mounties emerged from a black Hyundai Elantra and started firing toward an emergency services worker outside the Onslow Belmont Fire Brigade Fire Hall. The Mounties shot up the fire hall and just missed hitting people inside while causing considerable damage to equipment. One of the Mounties went into the fire hall for a moment and then the two left in the Hyundai.

The killer was well on the other side of Truro by then.

Five minutes earlier, at 10:25 a.m., in a well-known security video, the killer pulled into the lot of a business in Millbrook, got out of the car and changed out of a RCMP jacket into a yellow vest. He got back in the car and headed south toward Shubenacadie where two RCMP constables, Chad Morrison and Heidi Stevenson were driving in separate vehicles to meet up near the intersection of Highway 2 and 224.

Ten minutes after changing into the vest, the killer pulled up beside Const. Morrison who was waiting by the side of the road for Const. Stevenson. He fired into the car, striking Morrison in one hand and the other arm.

Morrison apparently radioed for help, but the media have not been privy to that communication. 

A Nova Scotia EHS tape, widely circulating on the Internet, indicates that at around the time shortly after Morrison was shot and paramedics responded. In the conversation with a dispatcher, a paramedic described a “member” (the common term for a Mountie) who was shot in the foot. The paramedic says he can’t transport the patient to hospital yet because he first had to recover a gun the officer had left in the woods and lock his police car. The RCMP has not confirmed any of this.

At 10:48 a.m., the killer slammed his vehicle into that of Const. Stevenson at the traffic circle connecting highways 2 and 224. The RCMP says Stevenson “engaged” the killer, but witnesses say he shot at her through the windshield and then dragged her out of her damaged vehicle. He then executed her with multiple shots as she lay on the pavement. He set his and Stevenson’s vehicles on fire. When a passerby, Joey Webber, stopped to help, he was killed. The killer then dragged his guns and paraphernalia to Webber’s Chevy Tracker and drove off.

After the shootings were reported, the RCMP still did not try to get in front of the killer and stop him.

Between 11:06 and 11:23 a.m. the killer was less than a kilometre from the traffic circle where Stevenson was killed, now at the home of Gina Goulet, a fellow denturist. He shot her and her dog, changed clothes and stole her car, a Mazda 3.

The RCMP, meanwhile, was now looking for GW in Joey Webber’s Chev Tracker, issuing a Tweet to that effect at 11:24 a.m. 

Unfortunately, for the killer, Goulet’s vehicles gas tank may have been empty. That seems a likely reason why he pulled into the Irving Station at Endfield; or, perhaps, he felt the gathering police presence around him. Instead of blocking off roads, the RCMP was going to businesses such as Sobeys and asking them to close their doors.

It was around this time that Halifax Police became engaged and began to set up a roadblock at exit 5A on Highway 102 heading into Halifax, one exit south of the airport. The Halifax Examiner previously reported another curiosity about the lookout for the killer in that Halifax Police Chief Dan Kinsella apparently ordered his officers to attempt to capture the killer and not shoot him.

Whatever the case, suspect was in his vehicle at the Irving station when a Mountie, reportedly a canine officer, who was stopped to fill up his vehicle recognized him. A brief confrontation ensued and the shooter was killed.

Meanwhile, the Department of Natural Resources helicopter was done with its reconnaissance of the Portapique crime scenes and was returning to Halifax. In the distance, the black smoke from the two burning cars at the traffic circle. Sources say they pilot was never engaged to try and hunt down the killer.

Obviously operating on a different frequency than other Mounties, the pilot was informed that the suspect was down at the Irving Station at Exit 7 on the 102.

As he landed in a field near the station to let off the Mountie who was with him, the pilot received a transmission from a gruff sounding RCMP Officer who identified himself as being “the RCMP Command Post.”

What the Mountie had to tell him was that the suspect had been brought down at the Irving Station in Enfield “at Exit 11.”

Exit 11, as it turns out, is in Stewiacke, approximately 43 kilometres to the north.

It was a fitting end to an epic policing failure.

Paul Palango is a former senior editor at the Globe and Mail and author of three books on the RCMP. He lives in Chester Basin.

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  1. You shouldn’t say he executed Const. Stevenson. That implies an official act, sanctioned by law.

    Better to say he murdered her.

    1. A valid technical point, I agree. However, we will have to go back in time and change all references to gangland executions and “execution-style” to something else, I guess.

    1. Either no one was in charge or whoever was in charge was operating some crazed, secretive agenda. Into all this drove Constable Heidi Stevenson. Having visited the area and knowing what I know, I really don’t think she had any idea that Wortman was in the area. I suspect she was out on regular Sunday morning patrol and the communications breakdown left her exposed to a madman. That’s something the RCMP might not want brought out.

  2. There is the .we tempest sucking out all the air of the Trudeau Liberals. Stephen McNeil riding high on ego inflation being the Covud 19 saviour, and the family, friends of the 22 person massacred are in deep grief. There is a delay because the exposure of the RCMP incompetence and failure is going to shock the world. They cannot face it. Delay. Delay. You are right. Only the people can demand justice. The establishment has been suppressing dissent for 100 years or more. It is time for citizens to pound the streets in protest.

  3. The defunding or should I say under funding of the public service has been going on for a long time in favour of corporate welfare.
    What’s the solution other than citizens getting involved. Demanding change.

  4. The Crown is in court today arguing— with a straight face, thats the hard part — that it is perfectly legal to LIBEL the portapique dead but if Paul Palango truthfully tells us they died by fire or gun, this will cause irreparable legal harm to their families !

    Our justice system employees are united in preventing us, their bosses, from finding out just how badly they f**ked up on the GW file…

  5. Hi Paul,

    This article is an excellent read. I get so worked up when I read how absolutely incompetent this organization was during this crisis. But I’m not one bit surprised. They were so ill-prepared. Not having everyone on the same radio channel right from the beginning was a HUGE mistake and I assumed this was the case since it was obvious they were not working in unison anyway.
    When you mentioned the Police Chief in Amherst denied that the RCMP told him the shooter was most likely dead (murder-suicide), I specifically recall in a public briefing where Supt. Darren Campbell actually said that at one point through the night the rcmp “assumed” the shooter was probably dead (suicide). He also specifically said they “assumed” the gunman wasn’t in one of his police car replicas because they thought he owned three replica cars and all three were accounted for (burned up at his residence)…yet there was a forth. So they weren’t looking for a white replica car for some time because of that assumption.
    What struck me most was all these “assumptions” the RCMP was making that kept them from moving forward looking for the shooter. Since when do trained investigators assume anything??? And then to pull back their efforts because of those assumptions??? It’s ludicrous. Especially given the seriousness of the situation.
    It’s ok for elementary-age kids to make assumptions, but it is not ok for highly trained police officers to make assumptions. I was actually blown away that Supt. Campbell even admitted they made those assumptions. Doesn’t look good for them. I think he was grasping at excuses as to why or how the shooter eluded them for so long. Not acceptable. Now he needs to come up for an excuse for the excuse.

    There is a lot of good and new information in your article. I’m so happy you haven’t given up the fight for an inquiry!!!
    I hope with every article you write they become a little more humbled, because they need that.

    p.s. I feel absolutely terrible for the two police officers who wanted to go into the scene. They must be sick over this. They were trained to go in, guns blazing. But some guy with a bigger badge and less practical experience stopped them. Totally negligent as far as I’m concerned. So many reasons why an inquiry is essential…and I don’t mean a flimsy “restorative justice” style inquiry.
    The RCMP uses the ‘Restorative Justice’ platform for young offenders ONLY in the judicial system. It is meant to give the young offender a second chance. The victim must agree to it and then attends a meeting with the young offender while police mediate. If a mutual agreement is made between the parties then the file is closed. But in the Portapique incident there is no accused, for he is dead and the victims are dead. How can justice be ‘restored’ in this particular case??? The only way justice will be restored is if there is a FULL INQUIRY that includes all facets that came into play on that fateful weekend. So Mark Furey needs to stop trying to pull the wool over Nova Scotians eyes by using this blather about “Restorative Justice” (which sounds so flowery, doesn’t it?).
    We want answers!!! That will be our justice!!!!

    Thanks Paul. Great work!!!!

  6. The details in this saga are terrifying. It seems quite plausible that GW was headed back to HRM for some unfinished business. He intentionally changed vehicles and moved his guns. If not for the fact that both the shooter and RCMP canine officer had to get gas at the same place and time (pure coincidence) this rampage could have continued in HRM. At least the HRP was thinking about blockades at this point.

    Cindy Beaton

    1. The curious thing is that Halifax Police have largely ducked everything. It seems quite evident that the force knows something and the only way we are going to find out what that might be is through a disinterested and thorough public inquiry.

  7. As to why Nova Scotians aren’t raising a bigger outcry over the deaths of 23 citizens, it may be no accident that Edgar Z Friedenberg wrote his classic analysis of the Canadian character , “DEFERENCE TO AUTHORITY”, while a professor in Nova Scotia.
    For indeed Nova Scotians can be aroused – but that still requires someone in authority to confirm that they are allowed to be angry !
    Opposition leaders, John Buchanan on Power Rates and Darrell Dexter on Nursing Home costs, were high enough in the authority food chain to legitimize public anger. But when our current opposition leaders support McNeil by remaining silent, public anger will stay curbed.
    As to why they are silent, one needs to remember that both their parties share with the Liberals responsibility for the RCMP (IN) actions re GW going back 25 years…

    1. Mike: You would think that one of the parties or even the governing one would appreciate that change is inevitable and the time has come to forget the transgressions of the past, seek forgiveness and plan for the future. To reiterate: the problem has been exacerbated by an anemic media for so many years. Investigative reporting and cogent commentary have been pushed aside in favour of bland, “consumer-friendly” drivel.

  8. Paul, the first pictures/video I saw from the Irving big stop was GW on the ground dead surrounded by members of the swat team. There was also a blue uniform in there and that might’ve been the dog master. The story was the swat team had to stop for gas! If that’s the case why was an elite group of Mounties forced to gas up their emergency vehicles on the way to a horrible crime?

    1. Bob: A day or two after the massacres, I was called by CBC Radio to do a commentary. I was reluctant to do so because I knew I would not be able to provide the kind of predictable blather expected in such situations. In the course of the interview I was asked about why the RCMP had not shut down the province. I answered something like this: “You may find this hard to believe but it might well just come down to overtime. The RCMP thinks its a business. It runs itself like it thinks a business would run. It tries to get by with as little as possible because it thinks that is what efficient means.” Why were the cars gassing up? The RCMP doesn’t want to tie all its money up in full tanks.

      1. April 1st was a new fiscal year and the budget would/should have been of little or no concern.

        1. Colin: The upper level white shirts get risk bonuses for coming under budget. Something like this event would have wiped out the whole year for them. You can’t discount it that easily.

        2. The budget is always of concern. Senior managers want their bonuses and the managers below them want them to get their bonus so they can enjoy fringe benefits.

      2. This is so obscenely stupid – full gas tanks only cost the interest that could be made on the money sitting in a bank account rather than a gas tank, and I guess cars with fuel tanks use slightly more fuel than cars with empty gas tanks – then again, a normal car is about 1% fuel by weight…

        1. Nick: I hope you weren’t taking me seriously. In one of my books I discussed how the RCMP liked to think of itself as a corporate entity but the superficial training that its employees get makes them think they are masters of the universe when in fact they are in fact not a little dangerous. MBA-think has resulted in the kind of risk taking that private corporations might find useful, but in the guardian world of policing don’t make a lot of sense. Public safety is the primary issue for police and running on empty or near empty is not the way a police force should be doing its “business.”

          1. Er, I was criticizing the RCMP, not you – and yes, I could see a wannabe Master of the Universe trying to save time by only refueling police vehicles when the fuel light comes on.

  9. I’m having a really difficult time making sense of the delays around calling the inquiry and while I feel for individual officers and their families in response to this horrific event, it is clear that their institution also failed them along with the victims and their families. We obviously don’t have leadership in our RCMP that is competent.

    22 people die and the person responsible was able to outrun and outgun the RCMP for 13 hours and they don’t bring in municipal forces with needed training, set up roadblocks, send out public alerts or even get important details right in their own comms? And he gave them a 6 hour window where he was not killing to get ahead of him?

    The opposition is calling on the RCMP to investigate the PM on ethics violations but not calling for this inquiry…22 dead innocent people and no public pressure on this from opposition, media, the public save for a few advocates.

    1. Jackie: I was just talking to a former high ranking Mountie. He read the story and said this: “If this happened anywhere else in the country, the people living there would be up in arms. What’s wrong with the people in Nova Scotia? What is it going to take to upset them?” As I see it, a higher proportion of citizens in the province have only worked in the military, policing or other public services, more so than outside here. They have been inculcated into a mindset where they seem to think that those working in such areas have made great sacrifices and must be supported at all cost in life and death, even though they have better benefits and pension plans than us ordinary folk. And policing is far from the most dangerous job in Canada. People have to wake up and get mad, otherwise history will repeat itself.

      1. I was thinking the same thing!!! People in NS put way too much faith in the RCMP and just automatically assume the RCMP is honest, ethical and truthful. They assume the RCMP always “does the right thing”. Maybe Nova Scotians need more interaction with the rcmp on a personal level to experience what they are really all about. If the public doesn’t see the truth for what it is after this massacre I don’t know what to say.
        I know this is a little off topic, but related…. for anyone who doesn’t know the story of Susan Butlin from Tatamagouche please google the RCMP’s epic fail into her murder that occurred in Sept. 2017. Same Bible Hill detachment, same flimsy responses by RCMP to her cries for help when her neighbour was threatening her over a two month period. On one occasion he walked into her home while she was putting her grandkids to sleep and he sexually assaulted her. But police didn’t even sit down to take a statement. EPIC FAIL. Police officers are INVESTIGATORS. An investigation begins with actually taking a call seriously and collecting the evidence for a charge. But instead these officers totally ignored serious criminal activity by a man who was on the edge of a breakdown. And Ms Butlin was TERRIFIED of him!!!
        Ms. Butlin reported all the incidents to RCMP and demanded action. She even went to the detachment in person asking why police were doing nothing in her case. The officer told her to go home and called her a public nuisance. Two days later she was murdered in her own home in Tatamagouche. This could have easily been a Portapique incident…it had the same red flags…a man who was losing his mind, threats to murder, alcohol abuse, multiple guns. Even his wife begged for police to do something with him.
        And after the facts came out I was stunned that Nova Scotians just carried on with their everyday life as if this didn’t happen. Yet poor Ms. Butlin lies DEAD in a cold grave. She has no voice. Who will speak for her??? Where is the outcry from the public for police to get their act together and FIX their broken dis-organization before more die???
        The RCMP put Ms. Butlin in that grave and no one should forget that. They did NOT DO THEIR JOB. As Mr Palango pointed out, their job is to PROTECT and PRESERVE life. Does anyone really think the RCMP gives a damn about Ms Butlin now???? She has been in her rear-view mirror since 3 years now and I’m sure they have all been sleeping just fine since. If you never heard of Susan Butlin please google her. Then write an email to government officials with your thoughts. I did. Be Ms. Butlins voice…please!!!!

        1. You’re right, Mr. Cat. People have to stop being so complacent and must get involved.

  10. If the RCMP was as dedicated in their efforts as Mr. Palango is in his investigating, this dreadful, heartbreaking story would have had a much better outcome. If this doesn’t take down the guys in red, can’t imagine what will. Trust / hope Mr. Palango is working on the cover-up angle.

    1. Jodie: What we are witnessing is likely the death throes of a Canadian institution. To me it is apparent that there is a cover-up. The problem is that I and the Examiner alone can’t uncover everything. Where are the Opposition parties? Where is the other media? Twenty-two Nova Scotians were murdered in an unprecedented spree and the media here and in the rest of Canada can’t organize themselves to do a concentrated investigation. Yet, everyday, I see the pages of papers and the airwaves filled with dross being turned out by reporters, photographers and editors who should be doing so much more with their time and energy.

    2. …Agreed. All the hard work by Mr. Palango is paying off and bringing the truth to light. If it weren’t for him, who would it be??? You are doing such a great service to the public Paul!!! And also a great service to the RCMP…they need to take a good long look at themselves in the mirror, and you are the mirror.

      1. Mr. Cat: Not only do the RCMP have to do some self-examination but, more importantly, the public and the politicians who supposedly serve them have to find the courage to reconsider their long held beliefs. Change is coming and everyone should get prepared. As for me being a mirror, at my age I am reluctant to look in one for fear I will crack it. In other words, pity the Mounties if I am their mirror. Thank you.

    1. Mistakes, failures and misdirection by both the police and government officials. Remember that the next time you hear them speak.