Oh Brenda, Oh Brenda!
Oh Brenda Lucki— outgoing and nearly retired RCMP Commissioner. You are leaving your post more than a year before your term is over– so your career is not framed in ignominy. Your last day is St Patrick’s Day, two weeks before the release of the final report of the Mass Casualty Commission.
Why wasn’t Brenda Lucki fired?
You are so fortunate that you were not fired – after the mess the RCMP made of the massacre at Portapique, NS. Frankly it was entirely your fault –and other top dogs at the RCMP –that nine people died, in the quiet morning hours after the night the gunman shot 13 neighbours fatally and set buildings on fire in Portapique. As one lawyer put it, the RCMP made no effort to contain the crime scene and there was a major problem of communication. The main fault is that no one took charge, and since that awful weekend there have been no meaningful changes in RCMP procedures. For example the now retired Sgt Andy O’Brien, though he was not on duty, had drunk at least five rums at home and had to have his wife drive him to the detachment on the Saturday night. Despite his protestation at the Inquiry that he was not drunk, in his “compromised” condition he issued orders to his men. Those orders included not to check homes in Portapique where more than a dozen people had been killed, while four children were stuck terrorized in a basement after their parents died. A Commission lawyer pointed out that some of O’Brien’s directions to front-line officers appeared “at odds or contradictory” with his claim that he would not make decisions about the police response.
After all, Brenda, you gave evidence at the Inquiry that you were busy “looking at things from the 10,000- foot level”, so you didn’t really know what happened on the ground that horrible weekend. By now, everyone knows you didn’t bother to step foot in NS for weeks after mass shootings.
Oh Brenda, you were so blessed that you weren’t fired, as demanded first by journalist and Indigenous writer Tanya Talaga in an article in The Globe and Mail exactly two years ago.
“No systemic racism” in the RCMP… Lucki
You were so arrogant that in 2020, you denied systemic racism in the RCMP – and then you had to back-pedal. You vowed to “work hard to address” systemic racism and “overcome it”. Though you also said you were “struggling” with the definition of systemic racism as you had heard “about 15 or 20 definitions of systemic racism.” That must have been confusing for you!
Still Brenda, you, like other top RCMP officials, were not disciplined or fired. You were never seriously required to defend your actions (or inactions), and did not have to openly face the families of the 22 people killed.
According to Paul Palango, author of 22 Murders, almost every Mountie involved in the Portapique situation has been promoted or comfortably retired after the murders. Brenda, you are no exception. You will go gently into that good night, admit little, do nothing, putt your nine holes at the golf course, play with the grandchildren, watch episodes of true crime on Netflix, or just go shopping.
Just before you go – in three days— have a look at my blog post from two years ago about you. Back in early 2021, I noted the problem of the racism in the RCMP, not to speak of misogyny in the force. I wrote presciently:
“Maybe you are waiting for the report to decide whether or not to say you’re sorry.
“I guess that also applies to the ugly fiasco by the RCMP that resulted in the deaths of 22 people in Portapique, NS. Perhaps you’re thinking you need not apologize until you see the results of the full public inquiry — and that’s going to be two or more years down the road. With any luck, Brenda, you may be retired by then.”From “A Letter to RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki”, here
Brenda — Wow! I’m glad you were able to retire before the the Commission’s final report gets dropped. However something tells me the Commission will go easy on you. As the Inquiry (or Spinquiry) was “trauma-informed” few officers had to testify openly. O’Brien was videotaped and there was no cross-examination. You did testify, and you got to wear your “garden party” dress not your dress uniform when you gave evidence for two days at the Inquiry. What you said was insulting and meaningless, “I want to apologize for the RCMP, but in such a way that we weren’t what you expected us to be and I don’t think we were what you wanted us to be or what you needed us to be.” Yet you are still the Commissioner!
But unfortunately for you, your reputation is in tatters, you were extremely economical with the truth and your omissions were on display for all to see, your inability to empathize, to act responsibly or take any blame is noted. I’m sure you spent a lot of your career watching your own backside.
Featured Image above: A closer view of Ericka Walker’s mural at Longspell Point Farm in Nova Scotia, part of an exhibit of art called Uncommon Common Art. Photo: Ernest Cadegan.