I realized as I sat down to write this that I somehow have avoided reporting on the perpetrators of domestic terrorism on this website, and there’s a lot to unpack there. Am I a pussy because I don’t wanna talk about that stuff? I’ve been putting off a story about attacks on Indigenous fishing infrastructure and another story about incels for months now, so tbh probably. Also, is it bad that I expected to have written about this type of person? I’m not sure what that says about me, but I’m pretty sure we live in a society. Have there been fewer rampages of the type favoured by homegrown lunatics during the pandemic? Data at least from the U.S. supports that idea, so maybe that’s it.
Or maybe I just have a pathological hipster mentality that prevents me from talking about the same things everyone else is talking about, stemming from my exclusion from the cool kids table in middle school, and so I avoid reporting on these tragedies while they’re in the headlines. Oh, whoops, I meant to write that last one in a text to my therapist/girlfriend, my bad guys. Anyway, this article will be answering none of those questions.
The reason I brought it up is actually just that because I’ve never written a story about a mass-murderer who doesn’t run a country, I don’t know how I should go about referring to one. Recently, family members of victims of atrocities have led a backlash against the glorification of their killers in the media. Names like Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, Charles Manson, and Elliot Rodger have become practically household, whereas nobody remembers their victims unless they were a white child or a white woman who was apparently either a slut or a virgin.
That seems pretty fucked up to me, but at the same time, it’s also kinda bullshit just to pretend these perpetrators weren’t human beings with human names and imply that their victims are dead because of intangible forces of Satan or whatever. So, as a compromise, I’ll give the name of the killer I’m talking about today just once, and then you can forget it like you’re taking a WWI history exam.
His name was Gabriel Wortman, and between April 18 and 19, 2020, he killed 22 people and injured three while impersonating a police officer in a shooting and arson rampage across rural Nova Scotia. It ended when he was shot and killed by the RCMP at a gas station a full 92 km away from where, 13 hours earlier, he bound his common-law spouse inside his cottage and set it on fire, kicking off the deadliest massacre in Canadian history.
By the way, the gunman’s wife, Lisa Banfield, survived the events and was charged alongside her older brother and brother in law on December 4 with providing ammunition for the attacks, though the RCMP has stated that they had no prior knowledge of what it would be used for. A class-action lawsuit has been filed against the gunman’s estate on behalf of the families of the victims of the rampage and last week, the suit added the trio as defendants. Banfield is also suing the estate, of which she had previously renounced her executorship, for domestic abuse.
I apologize, I know those last couple paragraphs were very CBC Newsy, which is not usually my style, but it’s hard to weave in jokes while I relate the story of a mass shooter, so I just thought I’d get that out of the way. For this next part however, it’s fucking open season. Get this: according to some very strong reporting from Maclean’s, the gunman may have been a confidential informant for the RCMP, or more likely, something called an “agent source,” which is like a level above confidential informant. It’s like a mega-snitch, and the RCMP pays a pretty penny for their services. They also work very hard to keep their identities secret.
This is obviously a wild accusation, and one that is amplified by the fact that the RCMP’s butterfingers response to the rampage has been intensely criticized — coordination between officers was dogshit and instead of the emergency alert system, they used social media in an area where the average age is 165 — so before I go any further I need to make sure everyone is aware of a few things: One, none of what I’m about to explain is based on original reporting other than some google searches for court documents, and the Maclean’s report relies on multiple unnamed sources, so I can’t stand behind it a hundred percent — I write these blogs for fun, I’m not fucking Nellie Bly.
Two, the RCMP has repeatedly and emphatically denied that the gunman had had any “special relationship” with the Mounties, though it should be noted that their own guidelines regarding confidential informants and agents direct them to mislead everyone but the courts to protect these snitches. They also have a nonexistent history of transparency, and are fighting an ongoing legal battle against a consortium of eight news agencies that include almost every source used to research this article over requests to unseal warrants related to the gunman.
Three, it’s pretty well documented at this point that I really fucking don’t like the RCMP. I wrote an entire article that was partially about how much they suck, and my disdain has only broadened since. This is to say that, while I personally believe the implications put forth in the Maclean’s article have some merit, my opinion is far from immune to bias, and I strongly encourage everyone to do their own research. I know that nobody will, but it’s the thought that counts — both to my conscience and the judge for my libel lawsuit.
With that out of the way, here’s why Maclean’s thinks that the Nova Scotia shooter maybe probably was an RCMP agent (which, again, is different from an actual officer, and just a fancy name for a snitch). The strongest piece of evidence lies with a withdrawal the gunman made from a Brinks depot in Dartmouth on March 30, 2020. According to the report, he obtained $475,000 in hundred dollar bills which came from INTRIA, the currency management and payment processing arm of CIBC — like large-scale old school Canadian PayPal.
According to unnamed banking and RCMP sources, this kind of transaction is “unavailable to private banking customers,” and although the shooter did operate a couple of businesses, which are INTRIA’s demographic, the Maclean’s article claims that none would reasonably need to handle that amount of cash. The Maclean’s police sources confirm that this kind of cash transaction is precisely how they pay informants and that such a high value payment would only be made to an agent.
Interestingly, this part of the story is actually total bullshit. The Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada, or FINTRAC, tracks suspicious banking activity throughout the country. Think of it like that one friend whose credit card is still linked to their parents’ account. You know, the one that always makes you buy the government weed and etransfer you back because they don’t want the purchase showing up on the bill? FINTRAC is like the parents but for every Canadian. If you’re up to some sus shit like money laundering or terrorist financing, FINTRAC, in theory, will notice and alert the RCMP.
The Canadian Press reported that court documents released in that lawsuit I talked about earlier included a handful of FINTRAC reports about suspicious activity from the shooter. The reports detail multiple flagged purchases related to the construction of the shooter’s mock police cruiser which he used to carry out his massacre, three suspicious deposits to a TD account totalling close to $250,000 in 2010, as well as the $475,000 Brinks withdrawal. These reports appear to have been prepared for the RCMP after the rampage, even though an independent financial expert told the Halifax Examiner that the 2010 activity “looks like money laundering.”
The important part though, is that the FINTRAC reports show that the CIBC bank ordered the INTRIA transfer to the Brinks depot, not the RCMP, which means that the $475,000 withdrawal wasn’t direct payment for snitching services, so that blows up that part of the Maclean’s case. However, the fact that none of the gunman’s businesses seem to have any legal reason to be undertaking the 2010 transactions or handling the amount of the 2020 Brinks withdrawal, and the fact that no action was taken regarding the suspicious purchases, shows either ridiculous incompetence on the part of TD, the CIBC, FINTRAC, the Mounties, some combination of the four, or else something fishy is going on here.
I know that “something fishy” doesn’t actually mean anything other than that your mom’s been over, but court documents also seem to show that the RCMP ignored a staggering amount of foreshadowing evidence about the gunman. Multiple complaints by neighbors and family members about his mental instability, violent tendencies, and even stashed weapons had been lodged as far back as 2011. According to CTV, some of those complaints ended up as dead ends because nobody would corroborate them, but still.
And even more unsealed court documents and reporting by the Halifax Examiner show that the RCMP had been made aware of accusations of other murders alleged to have been carried out by the gunman in the United States, and that he was alleged to have had “smuggled guns and drugs from Maine for years,” and “had a bag of 10,000 oxy-contin and 15,000 dilaudid from a reservation in New Brunswick.”
Finally, a friend of the gunman’s named, I swear to God I’m not making this up, Peter Griffon was responsible for producing the RCMP decals that were printed on the shooter’s mock police cruiser. Even funnier, Griffon was on parole at the time for a 2017 cocaine-related sentence after his ties to Mexican drug cartel La Familia Michoacana were discovered in Edmonton in 2014. Are you fucking kidding me bro? Peter Griffon? La Familia? La Familia Guy? I’m hollering, that’s absolute gold. Anyway, he’s back in prison now. I bet they make him watch American Dad in there as punishment.
To reiterate, there is still nothing to concretely prove that the shooter had had any “special relationship with the RCMP,” but as much as I’m used to that agency’s incompetence, when you combine all the prior evidence of the shooter’s criminality, it’s still hard for me to accept that they fumbled the bag this many times. And the fishiest part, the icing on the fish cake (ur mom), is that in the Crown’s defence against the media consortium’s lawsuit, attorney Mark Covan “relied heavily on case law that cites the unique protection rights of confidential informants, and information that could reveal the identity of confidential informants,” according to Global News.
If there really had been no special relationship, why the fuck would you argue the need to protect that exact special relationship. I feel like a goddamn conspiracy theorist but it doesn’t help that the RCMP has yet to either provide a reasonable counter narrative outside of “crazy people be doing crazy shit,” or admit their incompetence, options that might help assuage my inner freaked out Charlie Day.
I’m almost 2,000 words in and I honestly still couldn’t tell you if I believe the story or not, so let me shift gears real quick before I put my head through this screen. Three weeks ago, in the States, Reuters reported that Proud Boys chairman Enrique Tarrio worked as an informant for the FBI following his arrest in 2012. Tarrio was arrested in DC two days before the January 6 assault on Capitol Hill which left five people dead, and which his organization has been widely reported to have helped coordinate. Five members of the Proud Boys have been charged in connection with the riots and the Canadian government has labeled them a terrorist organization
Though Tarrio denies his relationship with the FBI, when Reuters called for comment, the former prosecutor in his 2012 case, Vanessa Singh Johannes, confirmed that he cooperated with law enforcement. My question is, how come when their terrorist turns out to have been an informant, they just admit it right away? Why do we have to play this game of fucking post-truth cat and mouse up here? And can someone tell me why governments keep using tax dollars to pay for terrorists without taking responsibility for their actions?
Even if the Nova Scotia shooter turns out not to have worked with the RCMP, I know for a fact like half of the military reserves in this country are fucking neonazis, so if the rampage in 2020 wasn’t the result of a rogue government asset, the next one might well be. I’m not naïve, I don’t think that police should stop using informants and criminal assets like Tarrio and potentially the gunman completely. Police forces are all incredibly flawed but as long as we have them, they should be allowed to be effective at doing what good they do do.
That being said, they should not be allowed to completely abdicate responsibility whenever shit hits the fan. For some reason, police seem to be obsessed with the idea that they need the trust of the public to be effective, but if that were true they should have tried harder not to betray it. Newsflash: the public doesn’t trust you people for shit anymore, so it’s time to stop fucking us about and come clean when something goes wrong. In Nova Scotia, the RCMP was either useless or actively harmful to the public, and their instinctual response when faced with hard questions was to cower behind bureaucracy and spin doctors. The correct response is not obfuscation and costly legal battles, it’s transparency and a fucking plan for how to not let it happen again, so that more people don’t die at the hands of others whose freedom they literally paid for.