Today the RCMP officer once described by another police officer as a “friend” of the man behind the 2020 mass shooting in Nova Scotia will testify before the inquiry investigating the rampage, though it will not be broadcast.
Const. Greg Wiley, who is scheduled to testify via video Tuesday afternoon, will be the first witness before the inquiry whose video or audio testimony will not be available on the livestream that has been used throughout the proceedings.
The commission said Friday Wiley’s scheduled Zoom appearance can be viewed by inquiry participants, media and members of the public who request by email to watch the virtual testimony live. Live audio access to the proceedings will also be available by phone.
The request for accommodation was made by the federal attorney general and means that video and audio of Wiley’s answers “shall not be disseminated, released, published, or shared.”
Wiley is the officer who was asked in 2010 to look into whether Gabriel Wortman—the gunman behind the deadly shooting spree—had firearms at his home in Portapique, N.S., when Wortman had threatened to kill his parents.
The investigation into the alleged death threat did not lead to any charges.
In his interview last year, Wiley told the commission’s investigators he had a good rapport with Wortman and that they often had brief “chinwags” at the killer’s residence. Wiley estimated he visited Wortman in the “ballpark” of 15 occasions over the years, but he said he hadn’t noticed anything unusual.
According to a report shared by the inquiry in May, the Halifax Regional Police service led the 2010 investigation into Wortman’s threats against his parents. The investigating officer, now-retired Sgt. Cordell Poirier, had referred to Wiley as a “friend” of Wortman, the report said. Poirier had said he asked Wiley on several occasions to visit Wortman’s Portapique residence to check for firearms and to determine if a search warrant was needed.
Wortman’s spouse, Lisa Banfield, told the inquiry on July 15 that Wiley had come to the Portapique property in June 2010 to see if there were guns at the residence. Wiley’s visit came after Wortman’s threats to his parents.
Banfield said Wiley was shown antique guns in the house during a visit that lasted 10 minutes.
During his interview last year with lawyers for the public inquiry, Wiley was unable to recall details of the June 2010 investigation. In a follow-up letter to the inquiry, a lawyer for the RCMP said Wiley no longer had his notes from that time.
Wiley is also connected to a 2017 murder case that is under federal review.
Susie Butlin, from Bayhead, N.S., had complained to the RCMP about being sexually assaulted and harassed by Ernest Ross Duggan before he killed her in September 2017. In August of that year, Wiley received Butlin’s complaints of harassment and was assigned as lead investigator.
According to the internal police report, Wiley “determined there was no basis for charges” and advised her to block Duggan on Facebook.
The investigation into Butlin’s death is now under a federal civilian review examining the RCMP’s response to her complaints and the adequacy of its handling of sexual assault investigations.
The commission has previously allowed accommodations for RCMP witnesses. In May it allowed two senior Mounties to answer questions in recorded sessions instead of testifying before lawyers and participants.
Members of the public can find information for requesting access to this afternoon’s testimony on the Nova Scotia mass casualty commission website.
By Lyndsay Armstrong