Top RCMP officer in Nova Scotia retiring ahead of Portapique public hearings
Retirement of Asst. Commissioner Lee Bergerman not expected to affect her ability to testify
The commanding officer of the RCMP in Nova Scotia is retiring in October, shortly before the opening of public proceedings at the Mass Casualty Commission into the Portapique killings.
The commission and the RCMP say they do not expect the retirement to affect Assistant Commissioner Lee Bergerman's ability to testify.
Bergerman is the commanding officer of the RCMP in Nova Scotia and was head of the force last April when a gunman disguised as an RCMP officer moved about Nova Scotia killing 22 people, including a pregnant woman.
The Mass Casualty Commission has begun its work to gather information but the next public hearings will happen between Oct. 26 and Dec. 10 at the Halifax Convention Centre.
Bergerman will retire on Oct. 8. Her retirement was announced on Tuesday morning by internal email to RCMP members in Nova Scotia. Bergerman has served in the RCMP for 35 years, with the last two and a half years as the commanding officer in the province.
"Assistant Commissioner Bergerman's retirement from the RCMP really has no effect on the Mass Casualty Commission itself as it's a completely independent process and independent agency that's doing its own work," said Cpl. Chris Marshall, a spokesperson for the Nova Scotia RCMP.
Marshall said if Bergerman is required to testify that will be treated the same as when any retired officer testifies in court, which is not unusual.
Power to subpoena
On the one-year anniversary of the killings Bergerman issued a statement that read in part, "We understand people have questions and want to know as much as possible about the incidents. Charges related to the investigation are currently before the courts and we are participating fully in the Mass Casualty Commission, which is underway."
In an email, the Mass Casualty Commission counsel Emily Hill wrote the commission is able to subpoena any required witnesses to testify.
"Participation of any individual in the inquiry does not rely on their current employment status, but rather their involvement or knowledge of the events on and leading up to April 18-19, 2020," Hill wrote.
In late June, the Mass Casualty Commission said the pace of its work will increase over the summer as it does more "community outreach" and clarifies its expectations to the people who will participate in the fall proceedings.
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