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RCMP union seeking ‘clarity and certainty’ on plans for national police force review

OTTAWA –


The union that represents 20,000 members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) is calling on the federal government to offer clarity on its plans to review Canada’s national police force’s contract policing role.


“The ongoing speculation and vague language from government representatives, the media and pundits is demoralizing to our members whose careers, lives and even families have been built around service to their communities large and small,” said National Police Federation President and CEO Brian Sauvé during a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday.


During the event, Sauvé called for all level of governments to commit to further bail reforms that include better integration of criminal offence data and the allocation of more resources to the bail system as a whole.


Sauvé’s comments about the federal government’s vision for the future of the RCMP come a day after the Toronto Star reported that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino and RCMP Commissioner Michael Duheme would like to see the RCMP transform into an investigative force like the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the United States.


“We already are the FBI of the North,” said Sauvé. “We’re actually the FBI, the DEA, the ATF, Homeland Security, as well as the U.S. Marshals and the Secret Service.”


The RCMP currently provides contract policing services to eight provinces and three territories, with direct contracts to 150 municipalities in Canada. These contracts are set to expire in 2032. Ontario and Quebec have their own provincial police forces.


In his December 2021 mandate letter, Mendicino was called on by Trudeau to conduct a contract policing review, and in the years since, further calls have come for the federal government to reconsider the role the RCMP play across the country.


Following the 2020 Nova Scotia Mass Shooting, the Mass Casualty Commission (MCC) made several recommendations on how the national police force can improve, with the goal of providing a new model of policing in Canada.


The MCC also recommended a comprehensive external review of the RCMP to be commissioned by the public safety minister, with a specific focus on the police force’s approach to contract policing.


In May, Mendicino announced a “Progress Monitoring Committee,” chaired by retired Nova Scotia Court of Appeal Justice Linda Lee Oland, to help monitor the implementation of these recommendations, though the minister at the time would not confirm whether the Liberals actually plan to follow through on all reforms called for. 


During an interview with CTV News Atlantic’s Todd Battis on Monday, Trudeau was asked about this potential new model for the RCMP.


“I think an openness to looking at different models is going to be important, but a conversation with Canadians, with premiers, with municipalities about their future about the best way to respond to policing is something we have to be having as a country,” Trudeau said.


Canada’s premiers also voiced concerns about what this review means for the future of the RCMP during a three-day meeting in Winnipeg last week.


“We are expanding out our sheriffs in anticipation that they may not want to continue to expanding the service [RCMP],” said Alberta Premier Danielle Smith at a press conference on July 12. “When you see all the vacancies we have … that almost looks like the force is getting wound down just through attrition and if that’s not the intention, they should be fairly clear on what it is.”


Sauvé disagrees that the MCC recommendation means the RCMP should get out of contract policing and views it more as the need for the federal government to deploy its resources more effectively in order to best serve communities.


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