The federal government says it is willing to renew the RCMP's contract with B.C. — but it's up to the province to decide if it wants to come on board.
The statement comes after B.C. Solicitor General Shirley Bond said Ottawa threatened to withdraw the RCMP's service in B.C. if a new 20-year contract is not reached by November. The current contract expires next year.
While Saskatchewan and Alberta have already reached new agreements, Bond said talks to renew the contract in B.C. are stalled.
But federal Public Safety Minister Vic Toews says it is up to the province to decide if they want to accept the federal government's terms.
"Our government is willing to renew contract policing agreements with the provinces. After four intensive years of negotiations it's now up to the provinces to decide whether or not to come on board," said Toews in question period on Wednesday.
"The same fundamental terms and conditions will apply to all provinces. Saskatchewan has accepted the agreement, Alberta has accepted the agreement and British Columbia will have to decide whether or not to accept the agreement."
A written statement from the federal Ministry of Public Safety said Ottawa has "been negotiating in good faith for four years" and is still hopeful an agreement can be reached.
The statement goes on to say the contract policing agreements "strike an appropriate balance between giving our police forces the tools necessary to do their job and ensuring fairness for Canadian taxpayers."
The RCMP currently polices all rural areas of B.C. and all municipalities except for 13 cities where local police forces have jurisdiction.
'Bring it on'
Meanwhile, well-known B.C. criminologist Robert Gordon said establishing its own provincial police force would be fairly easy for B.C.
"Bring it on," said Gordon, the director of SFU's School of Criminology. "As far as I am concerned, bring it on."
The province and municipalities are insisting they must have some control over policing costs and accountability, which has become a sticking point in the current negotiations.
Gordon said those concessions would benefit other provinces who have signed new deals with the RCMP.
"If B.C. secures more favourable terms and conditions, those favourable terms and conditions would apply to Alberta and Saskatchewan as well."
If talks break down, Gordon said, B.C. could have its own police force in place by 2015.