Mountie group demands criminal probe into force's role in Moncton officers' deaths
MPPAC asks justice minister to investigate whether criminal charges are warranted on top of Labour Code trial
The association that represents RCMP officers is calling on the federal justice minister to order an investigation into the 2014 shooting deaths of three Moncton Mounties and the wounding of two others to determine if criminal negligence charges are warranted.
Although the national police force is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 26 under the Labour Code for failing to provide adequate use-of-force equipment and related user training, the Mounted Police Professional Association of Canada wants to see the individuals involved in the delayed roll-out of carbine rifles held accountable.
"There's lots of questions that go unanswered and we still want the answers to those questions," said national president Louis-Philippe Thériault.
"If you would take any other organization where employees have died, there would have been a parallel criminal investigation, but we haven't got that because we're the RCMP," he said.
"And I think a full [independent] investigation should be mandated by the government so that we can look deeper into everything that happened."
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In his Sept. 29 ruling, provincial court Judge Leslie Jackson said the RCMP's approach to the roll-out of carbines was "focused on the odds of an event such as the Moncton murders ever happening, rather than on their duty to ensure the health and safety of its members."
Carbines, he said, could have made a difference on June 4, 2014, when Justin Bourque gunned down Codiac Regional RCMP constables Fabrice Gevaudan, Douglas Larche and Dave Ross and wounded constables Darlene Goguen and Eric Dubois.
Bourque was armed with an M305.308 semi-automatic rifle and a Mossberg 500 12-gauge shotgun. The responding officers had only pistols.
The trial heard the force knew it needed better weapons seven years before the deadly shootings, and carbines were approved in 2011.
Discovered money for guns
Minutes of a 2011 Codiac Regional Police Authority meeting show $16,399.60 was approved to purchase carbines and train front-line officers that fiscal year.
But that didn't happen and the information was not disclosed at the trial, said Thériault, one of several association members now poring over the thousands of pages of trial transcripts, searching for possible evidence of criminal negligence causing death.
Thériault has also sent a letter to Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould demanding answers.
Why wasn't it evidence?
He wants the government to investigate why the Codiac police authority failed to bring forward this "vital evidence that would have been highly beneficial to the Labour Code trial."
The association, which represents thousands of members across the country, also wants to know:
- What happened to the funds that were designated by the Codiac authority in 2011 and granted for subsequent years for carbines and training?
- Who in the RCMP stopped the carbine roll-out when the funds were made available in 2011?
- Who in the RCMP shut down the senior officers who made the request for these carbines?
RCMP officials at the headquarters in Ottawa did not respond to a request for comment on Friday.
"Sadly, the continuing ineptitude of those charged with leading the RCMP has resulted in the unnecessary deaths of officers and other unacceptable and egregious outcomes for force members," his letter states.
"Lives and families have been destroyed because of weak leadership and there is no accountability from anyone."
Maximum fine not enough
Even the Crown's recommendation for the maximum $1 million penalty in the Labour Code case is "not near enough to change things," he wrote.
The association wants to see a new civilian oversight body to govern the RCMP before the next commissioner is selected and it wants front-line officers to be part of the search team for a new commissioner.
Department of Justice officials did not respond to a request for an interview.
Thériault said he's optimistic the minister will respond to his letter. If the association doesn't hear back within 30 days, it may organize a rally on Parliament Hill, he said.
With files from Information Morning Moncton