Portapique Final Report: strong evidence for wrapping up the RCMP

One senior RCMP officer was sitting drinking at home.  When he got the call about the shootings he had to have his wife drive him to the RCMP detachment, and there he barked orders at the underlings. 

At 10.01 on the Friday night of the shootings, Jamie Blair, mother of two who with her family lived next to Wortman.  She  called 911 to say that “Gabriel”, whom she identified as a local denturist who owned a fake police car had just shot her husband dead.  Not one cop paid attention.  Minutes later,  Blair was then gunned down by Wortman while she was inside her house. 

Twenty minutes later, four children were hiding in a basement in Portapique. One called 911 to report that Jamie had been killed as well as two other parents had all been shot dead on Friday night around around around 10.30  pm. The boy who called said he recognized Wortman, but no adult in the cop shop seemed to pay attention.  Though a recording existed, months later most of the media refused to play the 911-call, nor did they publish the transcript between the boy and the 911 operator – because it was too traumatic. The kids already suffered the trauma.  Why was it too traumatic for the cops to listen?

It took the cops four to six hours to go to the house to find the children. And it was played out as a heroic rescue of four kids.  

18-inch RCMP Mountie carving moose, from Folkart Interiors. Price: $75.00

The RCMP portrayed as heroes

Not one of the cops went door-to-door in Portapique till late Sunday afternoon.  It was only then they found so many neighbours had been shot dead.  Wortman’s rampage had started on the Saturday night. It was all too traumatic for the cops.

On Sunday morning while driving her car along Plains Road in Debert, Heather O’Brien was shot many times by Wortman—a complete stranger.  When the police appeared on the scene 15 minutes later, they decided O’Brien was dead—no need to call an ambulance. One cop told another not to bother.   Yet O’Brien’s FitBit showed her heart kept beating – she was alive and potentially could have been saved – until after 6 pm that day.  “We are disappointed that the public is not getting this information, and instead being forced to read through thousands of documents to find anything,” reads the statement from the O’Brien family.

The RCMP arrogance is breath-taking. It seems the RCMP as the “senior” police force did not “do” co-operation with other cops. The gunman drove through Truro. The RCMP left the Truro police out. Later, after the massacre, RCMP officials warned the Truro police to butt out.

The RCMP’s then-Chief Commissioner, Brenda Lucki, never showed up on the scene that weekend, that week or that month.  Lucki was allowed to gracefully retire a couple of weeks before the Inquiry’s final report. 

At least 44 people encountered Wortman over the 15-hour massacre; not all were interviewed

At least 44 people had close calls with the gunman from 11 pm on Friday night till he was killed on Sunday before noon.  The police had no comment.

Some of the police gave their evidence at the Mass Casualty Inquiry on videotape.

Others gave it as a round-table “discussion”.

Other cops just gave their version of events.

No matter –none were cross-examined.  How do you get to the truth?

Too traumatic.

Truro NS, from East, ca 1908. Annabel Ells collection, NS Archives.

Today we heard all about the 3,000 page report, which is meant to snow us. 

Just like the families whose loved ones were killed, the public across Nova Scotia and throughout the country and all of those concerned about policing are told in effect “nothing to look at, move along”.

What is the aim of laying down 3,000 pages—who would read it from start to end? When I was a professor, it was customary for lazy students to “pad” their essays with paragraphs, and bumph from the internet — usually off topic. The “padding” was to inflate the word count and grow the page numbers. Looks like the Commission did the same thing.

Yesterday Marco Mendicino, the federal minister of public safety, said the RCMP have already started to make changes in how they handle things today – yet gave not one single cogent example.

What does that tell us? Some of what I complain about are in the report. That’s good. And there were criticisms of the RCMP. But overall, what is the Commission’s conclusion? it is to preserve and boost the RCMP, by offering its officers more education, train them to spot abusive men, get them to work nicely with other police. Oh yes we have to increase the RCMP’s communication skills and alert system. Really? Is that all there is?

So it’s business as usual. The business of plausible denial and the continuing massive cover-up for the murders of 22 people– for which no one in the RCMP seems to be accountable.

Featured painting at the top: NS Harbour, by Helen Pye

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