Politics

Fed up with waiting, Quebec's Mounties attempt to form own union

Quebec group's application for certification causes confusion - and concern among rival associations

Serge Bilodeau

Serge Bilodeau is seeking certification for his group, the Quebec Mounted Police Members' Association, to represent Mounties in Quebec. (Quebec Mounted Police Members' Association)

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Mounties in Quebec have decided to try to go it alone on the unionization front.

The Quebec Mounted Police Members Association filed its bid for certification with the federal labour relations board on Tuesday.

The RCMP won the right to unionize at the Supreme Court of Canada more than two years ago. To date though, members of Canada's national police force have largely been split in their support for two groups seeking to represent them: the National Police Federation and the Mounted Professional Police Association of Canada.

Those two groups do not get along.

The Quebec group, with 800 members, is smaller than the national organizations, but it has the longest history in terms of seeking the right to form a union.

In a news release, Serge Bilodeau, president of the Quebec group, said while he wanted Mounties to file a single request for certification, "our efforts at joining our union goals across the country were in vain."

"While the request to unionize RCMP officers is being made solely on behalf of Quebec's members, the move is justifiable due to the specifics that are applicable to the particular needs of Quebec's frontline members," said the release.

Bid causes confusion, concern

That news release, which stated Bilodeau's group had submitted its application to Quebec's public services labour relations board, had labour experts and rival associations scratching their heads, because the RCMP is under federal jurisdiction.

Ottawa lawyer Paul Champ pointed out such a move would be contrary to the Public Service Labour Relations Act and the RCMP Act.

However, Tuesday evening, the group said its press release was wrong, and its application had in fact been filed with the federal board.

Brian Sauvé, who's with the National Police Federation, did not welcome the move by the Quebec group to seek certification.

"We do not see the value in having Canada's national police force divided up into smaller bargaining agents. We're all police officers, we all wear the same uniform and the government has indicated it wants a single bargaining agent," he told CBC News.

RCMP civilian employees have also sought to unionize. The Canadian Union of Public Employees has filed applications at the federal public service labour relations board for civilian employees who intercept communications and handle emergency calls.

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