New Brunswick

'Why was that not part of the trial?': Moncton RCMP got money for carbine rifles 2 years before rampage

Minutes from a 2012 Codiac policing authority meeting show money was allocated for carbines that February, raising the question: why were the guns not readily available to police in Moncton, N.B., the night of Justin Bourque's shooting rampage in 2014.

Minutes from policing authority meeting reveal $16,399.60 given in February 2012, and more in next two years

Officers who responded to call about Justin Bourque only had pistols and shotguns to defend themselves, something a judge ruled should not have been the case. (Marc Grandmaison/Canadian Press)

Minutes from a 2012 Codiac policing authority meeting show thousands of dollars were allocated that February to the purchase of carbines, raising the question: why were the guns not readily available to police in Moncton, N.B., the night of Justin Bourque's shooting rampage more than two years later?

The request for funding came from Supt. Marlene Snowman, then-officer in charge of the Codiac division, who called it a "safety issue."

By the deadly night of June 4, 2014, Codiac had acquired a number of carbines, but it is not clear how many, or when they were purchased.

No front-line officer in the local department was yet trained in how to use the guns. The night of the shootings, the carbines and several Codiac officers were at Base Gagetown, ready for the first round of training to begin.

Puzzled by delay

That delay — between the money being allocated in early 2012 and the first training set for June 2014  —  is something the Mounted Police Professional Association of Canada wants explained.

"What did we do with that money for those two years, two years and a half?" said Louis-Philippe Thériault, national secretary of the association and an RCMP member in Moncton.

"Why did we not train the members? Is there someone that stopped Supt. Snowman from training the members, from acquiring the equipment?"

The RCMP was found guilty under the Labour Code in September of not providing proper training and equipment, including carbines, to officers that could have potentially helped prevent some of the carnage on June 4, 2014.

Mounties outgunned

That night, Justin Bourque killed three officers and wounded two more. Bourque heavily outgunned the RCMP, who were equipped with shotguns and pistols against his high-powered rifle.

Minutes from the February 2012 policing authority meeting reveal a sum of $16,399.60 approved for fiscal year 2012 for buying carbines and training, and $79,699.96 overall for three years.

The dollar figures in the minutes, however, were never raised at the Mounties' Labour Code trial.

"Why was that not part of the trial?" Thériault asked. "We have an RCMP officer in charge of a major detachment in the country asking for money for the carbines because it's a safety issue. And that's what the trial revolved around."

Force approved carbines in 2011

The trial heard that after numerous studies, beginning in 2006, backed the use of carbine rifles for front-line officers, the weapon was finally approved by the RCMP's senior executive committee in September 2011.

It was then up to each division to choose how many carbines they wanted to acquire, based on need and budget.

New Brunswick's J-Division requested 22 carbines in 2012, and an additional 12 carbines for each of the following four years, the trial had heard.

The local authority gave $16,399.60 to the Codiac RCMP that February, and the remainder of the money was included in the 2013 and 2014 budgets, according to Charles Léger, a Moncton city councillor and chair of the Codiac Regional Policing Authority.

Léger said the policing authority did what was necessary to make the funds available but was not responsible for micromanaging the implementation of the training.

Money was 1 excuse for delay

Senior-ranking officials of the RCMP often cited budgetary constraints at the trial as being a potential issue delaying the acquisition of carbines.

Former deputy commissioner Darrell Madill had said the RCMP couldn't just unilaterally decide to roll out carbines; it had to get its funding partners — in the case of Codiac, three municipalities — on board, and work out budget issues with them.

"Money wasn't an issue for Moncton, Dieppe and Riverview," said Theriault, referring to information from the minutes. 

"It must have been something else."

Theriault said the trial has left many unanswered questions about what happened between the 2011 approval of carbines and 2014, when carbines were still not in the hands of front-line members.

Still questions after trial

He and others are still trying to get answers to those questions, despite the trial being over.

Witnesses for the defence had made references to a lengthy purchasing process and to the weapon manufacturer facing a shortage on one occasion.

But Theriault still thinks that doesn't answer all the questions and wonders why no senior officer from New Brunswick was called to testify at the trial.

The RCMP did not answer CBC's questions about the funding allocation for the Codiac detachment. A spokesperson said in an email that more than 7,200 members across the country, including 5,800 front-line members, were trained in the use of patrol carbines as of Oct. 12.

Sentencing for the RCMP takes place on Nov. 23, and lawyers for the force have not yet said whether they plan to appeal the guilty ruling.


Gabrielle Fahmy is a reporter based in Moncton. She's been a journalist with the CBC since 2014.