Nova Scotia

Testimony from key RCMP officer at mass shooting inquiry can't be broadcast

The Mass Casualty Commission investigating the shootings of April 2020 announced late Friday afternoon that the testimony of an RCMP officer who interacted with the gunman more than a dozen times will not be broadcast to the public.

Mass Casualty Commission made surprise announcement Friday afternoon

An RCMP vehicle is pictured.
RCMP Const. Greg Wiley visited the gunman's Portapique home 16 times in the years before the deadly rampage of April 2020. (David Bell/CBC)

The comission investigating the mass shootings in Nova Scotia in April 2020 has made a surprise decision just before the long weekend to block the testimony of a key witness from public broadcast.

RCMP Const. Greg Wiley is set to testify Tuesday afternoon, but in a decision released Friday afternoon, the Mass Casualty Commission ruled that his testimony via video link would not be disseminated as either audio or video via the normal webcast.

"In order to receive the best information possible from Cst. Wiley, we have directed that Cst. Wiley's testimony not be webcast and a transcript be posted on the website," wrote the commission in its decision

The Attorney General of Canada made an application for accommodation for Wiley, citing personal health reasons.

Wiley is the officer who visited the gunman's Portapique home 16 times in the years before the deadly rampage of April 2020. 

He told investigators in an interview that he never saw anything alarming.

Accommodation granted for 'best information'

The gunman had a stash of illegal weapons and a replica RCMP cruiser, which were used in the killings of 22 people.

The commission also plans to question Wiley about his involvement in the case of Susie Butlin, a Tatamagouche woman who was killed by her neighbour in September 2017 after reporting him to RCMP for sexual assault and harassment.

When Butlin called the RCMP in August 2017 to report harassing messages from her neighbour, Wiley was assigned as the lead investigator. He discussed the messages with Butlin, and determined there was no basis to lay a criminal charge. 

The commission wouldn't take questions Friday afternoon, but senior commission counsel Emily Hill released a video statement noting the public and media could still attend the proceedings on Tuesday.

"The difference in this case is that video will not be posted after on our website or published by the media or by the public," they said.

"This is in response to an accommodation request … accommodations are granted to ensure the commission receives the best information from witnesses."

Other accommodations

Hill said the request concerns personal health information and the commission could not discuss specifics.

This is the most significant accommodation the commission has made for any witness who has testified. 

In May, the commission allowed two senior RCMP officers to answer questions in recorded sessions rather than testifying in front of a roomful of participants and lawyers. 

Some lawyers representing families of the victims boycotted the commission proceedings because they were not permitted to directly question Andy O'Brien, now retired, and Staff Sgt. Brian Rehill. Neither session was live streamed.


Ruth Davenport

Producer, CBC Nova Scotia

Ruth Davenport is a producer for CBC Nova Scotia. She has been covering news in Halifax for 20 years.