Skip to main content
opinion

RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki makes her way to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, in Ottawa, on Oct. 31.Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki is useful.

No, not as a symbol of the integrity and independence of the RCMP. To the extent she might have ever served as an authority in that regard was compromised back in June, when the Mass Casualty Commission looking into the shooting that killed 22 people in Nova Scotia in April, 2020, released documents suggesting Commissioner Lucki pushed senior RCMP brass to publicly identify the guns used in the killings, in seeming service of the Liberal government’s planned gun-control policy.

For months, Commissioner Lucki has denied political interference in the matter, telling a parliamentary committee over the summer that she was “not directed to publicly release information about weapons used by the perpetrator to help advance pending gun-control legislation.”

Then, late last month, the audio was released of a call between Commissioner Lucki and Nova Scotia RCMP, recorded in the days following the mass shooting, in which Commissioner Lucki expresses her disappointment that Mounties did not identify the guns used by the perpetrator, saying, “It was a request I got from the minister’s office.” She says during that call that she was told that RCMP Superintendent Darren Campbell would be listing the guns during a press conference, and that she informed the office of then-public safety minister Bill Blair that he would be doing so. (Mr. Blair has denied that the government gave political direction to Commissioner Lucki.)

Commissioner Lucki is also not useful as a change-maker within the RCMP, though she was appointed in 2018 by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau with a specific mandate to modernize the organization. In 2020, amid a controversy over a series of video recordings that appeared to show RCMP officers using disproportionate force against Indigenous individuals, Commissioner Lucki struggled with the question of whether systemic racism exists within the force. Under pressure, she eventually conceded that, yes, the RCMP has a problem with systemic racism, and that she will “lead positive change on this critical issue.”

On other critical issues, such as improving communication within and from the force, Commissioner Lucki has made few tangible changes – by her own admission. In August, she told the Mass Casualty Commission that there have been no reforms to the RCMP in the more than two years since the Nova Scotia mass shooting. And the RCMP remains opaque by default: Text messages released by the public inquiry into the government’s use of the Emergencies Act during the trucker convoy in February of this year revealed that Commissioner Lucki twice asked Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner Thomas Carrique about communicating on an app that does “not store deleted messages.” As reported by The Globe and Mail this week, Commissioner Lucki walked away when she was asked if she had ever deleted text messages.

And Commissioner Lucki is not useful as a representative of the gravitas of Canada’s national police force. According to the same batch of text messages released by the public inquiry, she mused about bringing in the Canadian Armed Forces to deal with the convoy protesters, suggesting that soldiers could dress up in RCMP uniforms as “unarmed Auxiliaries” (which is likely illegal under Section 130 of Canada’s Criminal Code) to patrol and secure certain areas. When questioned this week, Commissioner Lucki was not able to explain a text message in which she asked Commissioner Carrique if he had received a request for retroactive support of the Emergencies Act from the federal government, writing, “Has Minister Blair hit you up for a letter to support the EA?” In contradiction to her own writing, she told reporters she was never asked to write a letter.

So if Commissioner Lucki has a clear penchant for dodging accountability, if she is a poor representative of the integrity and independence of the RCMP, and if she is seemingly willing to act in the partisan interests of the federal government – why does she still have her job? Does it not impugn the reputation of the entire RCMP when its top cop is as beleaguered as Commissioner Lucki has become?

But therein lies her usefulness.

A leader whose reputation has become as seemingly sullied as Commissioner Lucki’s might’ve been asked for her resignation from the government that appointed her ages ago, but she remains useful to the Liberals as a diversionary figure: someone who deflects negative attention away from Mr. Blair, and on herself for allowing the force to be influenced. Her coming testimony will likely speak to some level of chaos and disorganization within the RCMP during the trucker convoy, which will only bolster the government’s contention that invoking the Emergencies Act was necessary. Indeed, the worse Commissioner Lucki comes off, the better the Liberals will look.

That’s perhaps why Canada’s seemingly compromised top cop, who muses about deleting text messages to avoid accountability and dressing up soldiers like police to fool the public, hasn’t yet resigned. She remains useful – just not to Canadians.