Dates set for testimony by shooter’s common-law spouse and senior RCMP members
The Mass Casualty Commission has released when some highly anticipated witnesses are due to testify this summer.
In a summer work schedule In an update posted on its website Thursday, the commission said it will hear from the shooter’s common-law spouse first, followed by several senior RCMP members throughout the summer.
Lisa Banfield is due to testify at the in-person proceedings on July 15. She is allowed to be accompanied by two support people at this time.
“Given Ms Banfield’s situation as a survivor of the abuser’s violence, as one of those most affected, and in light of the information she has already provided to the commission, the Participants’ questions will be put to him by commission counsel,” the commission said. said in his update.
In explaining why attorneys for the participants will ask Banfield questions directly, commissioner chair Michael MacDonald said commission attorneys are representing the public interest rather than defending a “particular point of view.”
Counsel for the participants will, however, be able to submit questions to Banfield in advance, as well as ask questions of commission counsel before she is finished testifying.
Patterson Law, who represents the families of 14 victims, said in a statement Thursday that they were “deeply discouraged” by the limits the commission has placed on participants’ attorneys when it comes to questioning Banfield.
“Our clients are not confident that commission counsel will obtain all relevant evidence from Ms. Banfield,” the law firm said. “Today’s decision has significantly undermined the legitimacy of the process and our clients’ confidence in the independence of the commissioners.”
In the weeks following Banfield’s testimony, the commission will hear from four senior members of the RCMP.
Supt. Darren Campbell is scheduled to testify in person July 25-26, followed by Supt. Chris Leather on July 27 and 28.
Assistant Commissioner Lee Bergerman is scheduled to testify August 22-23, followed by Commissioner Brenda Lucki on August 23-24.
MacDonald said the commission anticipated that testimony from senior RCMP members could take more than a day, so she adjusted her schedule to accommodate.
“The commission has not received, and does not expect to receive, requests for accommodations for these witnesses to testify,” the commission said.
The release of the public inquiry’s summer schedule comes after Lucki came under fire for her interactions with the federal government shortly after the April 18-19, 2020 mass shooting that claimed the lives of 22 people.
Lia Scanlan, director of strategic communications for the RCMP in Nova Scotia at the time of the mass shooting, also asked why the superintendent. Darren Campbell, Supt. Chris Leather and retired Assistant Commissioner Lee Bergerman were not interviewed by the commission.
“They are the holders of some of the clearest information…so I absolutely think they should be questioned,” Scanlan said during his interview with the commission.
Other witnesses, including other RCMP members, a former neighbor of the shooter and others, will be heard, but the date they are due to testify has not yet been confirmed.
Throughout the summer, the commission said it would continue to publish foundational documents, commissioned reports and hold roundtables.
“We know it will be a busy summer gathering the necessary information, hearing from the right witnesses and experts, and asking the questions we need to inform our recommendations to help make Canadian communities safer,” said commission counsel, Emily Hill.
Public debates are due to continue until the end of September. In the fall, the three commissioners will prepare their recommendations for their final report, expected in November.