Canada's next RCMP Commissioner must be a legal beagle, an experienced and motivating leader, and be able to play nice with others, but will not have to be fully bilingual or have experience as a police officer.
Public Safety Minister Vic Toews has sent a list of proposed criteria for selecting the Mounties' next leader to a group of MPs. Five months have passed since RCMP Commissioner William Elliott announced his intention to step down this summer. At the time, Toews committed to consulting the House of Commons public safety committee.
In a letter addressed to committee chair Kevin Sorenson, Toews explained the next RCMP Commissioner, "will need to demonstrate exemplary leadership skills, have a proven aptitude for strategic management, deal sensitively with issues relevant to the RCMP's many stakeholders and to Canada's diverse population, and implement a corporate vision that will be endorsed by the RCMP and its stakeholders."
What will undoubtedly be of great interest to many RCMP members is that no where in his letter or in an accompanying list of qualities does Toews indicate the next Commissioner must be a police officer, just that an "understanding of criminal law, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and the legal and institutional context of police work would be an asset". It also doesn't stipulate that candidates must be bilingual; rather, they should be proficient in both official languages.
Criteria too vague: NDP
NDP public safety critic Jasbir Sandhu said the selection criteria are too vague and his party wants to add a few more qualities to the list, although he declined to explain what he feels is missing from the list. "Clearly the last commissioner that we had, it clearly didn't work out. There was a lot of anxiety in the force that led to a number of accusations over a period of time and we have to make sure that the next commissioner is in the best interest of Canadians and they're able to police nationally," said Sandhu.
Under the category "personal suitability", Toews stipulates Elliott's successor must have superior interpersonal skills. Last summer, CBC News first reported how some of the RCMP's highest ranking officers complained to the government about Elliott's management style. They accused the Commissioner of verbally abusing staff and having a hot temper. Elliott came out swinging against his accusers, saying it was "fairly self-evident" a small group of Mounties wanted to push him out of the job.
Elliott's appointment in 2007 was controversial. While many members welcomed the idea of an outsider tackling the long-standing cultural problems within the organization, others saw Elliott's lack of operational experience as a major weakness. Elliott was supposed to step-down this summer but the government asked him to stay on until September as it continues its search for his replacement.