New Brunswick

Dieppe mayor claims RCMP getting out of contract policing, but no official confirmation

The mayor of Dieppe says the RCMP will be getting out of policing whole provinces and municipalities in the coming years. But there’s little to confirm that’s planned.

RCMP police 8 provinces, 3 territories, more than 150 municipalities through contract policing agreements

The front half of an RCMP cruiser
The RCMP police eight provinces, three territories and more than 150 municipalities through contract policing agreements. (Shane Magee/CBC)

It was a short statement that, if true, would have major implications for the RCMP.

"As we know now, in six years from now, they are going to withdraw- the RCMP is going to withdraw from municipal and provincial policing," Dieppe Mayor Yvon Lapierre said matter-of-factly on Information Morning Moncton last week.

"The RCMP's not going to be here doing municipal policing. We got that memo, as the old saying goes."

If accurate, the comments would be a significant revelation about the future of policing for not just the Moncton region.

RCMP serve as provincial and municipal police forces through contract policing agreements in eight provinces, three territories and around 150 municipalities across the country. That includes much of New Brunswick and the Moncton region, where a debate has resurfaced about whether to stick with the Codiac Regional RCMP.

While there have been recommendations the force stop contract policing and focus on federal policing, which includes national security and drug investigations, there has been nothing announced.

CBC attempted to verify the mayor's comments with municipal, provincial and federal officials.

RCMP won't comment

RCMP headquarters in Ottawa wouldn't comment on the mayor's remarks.

The RCMP directed questions to Public Safety Canada, the federal ministry that oversees the Mounties. Minister Bill Blair did not provide an interview.

"The department has no awareness of a plan referred to by Mayor Lapierre regarding the RCMP service agreements," Tim Warmington, a spokesperson for Public Safety Canada, said in an email Friday.

New Brunswick's Department of Public Safety, responsible for the provincial RCMP contract, did not respond to a request for comment.

Pat Bouchard, the National Police Federation's Atlantic region director, said the RCMP union had not heard anything other than Lapierre's comments on the morning show.

"I have no knowledge of that," Charles Léger, the chair of the Codiac Regional Policing Authority board that oversees the RCMP force in the Moncton area, said of the Dieppe mayor's comments.

Mayor stands by comments

Lapierre stood by his comments in a phone call Thursday. He declined to say who provided the information, only calling them a "reliable source."

Lapierre said his comments were based on information he heard during a meeting attended by other New Brunswick municipal politicians over the summer.

Dieppe Mayor Yvon Lapierre stood by his comments about the end of provincial and municipal policing by the RCMP. (Pierre Fournier/CBC News )

Moncton Mayor Dawn Arnold first told CBC by email that she was "fairly taken aback" by what her counterpart in Dieppe said.

"I certainly don't have any official confirmation from any level of government that this is indeed the situation," Arnold said.

Asked if she recalled hearing the comments at the meeting Lapierre described, she then said it came up in passing.

"Yes, I was present at a meeting where this was mentioned," Arnold said in an email Friday.

"It is not my place to speak on behalf of the province. I don't believe that anything is close to being decided, I think that everyone is looking at options and trying to see what could work for the province and communities, whatever that may end up being."

Moncton Mayor Dawn Arnold says she was present at a meeting when the idea was mentioned. (Shane Magee/CBC)

Arnold didn't respond to a request to further clarify when the meeting occurred or who mentioned the information. 

Alex Scholten, the president of the Union of Municipalities of New Brunswick, said there was a gathering of various municipal leaders July 10-12 about municipal reform with Daniel Allain, New Brunswick's minister of local governance reform.

He said there was a lot of discussion about the RCMP at the meeting, though it wasn't clear if it was the same meeting Lapierre was referring to.

"There was definitely discussion about RCMP services, definitely discussion about dissatisfaction among municipal members, and definitely a discussion on what our members are talking about in terms of what alternatives may be in the future," Scholten said in an interview.

"But definitely nothing, at least that I heard at all - and I was in the discussions that [Arnold and Lapierre] were in - with anyone from the province saying that they are looking at this, or the feds saying anything about it."

Allain did not respond to requests for comment.

Daniel Allain, New Brunswick's minister of local governance reform, didn't respond to requests for comment. (Jacques Poitras/CBC)

The RCMP effectively serve as the provincial police force in New Brunswick under a 20-year contract signed in 2012

The contract allows either the federal government or the province to terminate it on March 31 of any year during the term of the agreement with two years' notice.

A similar contract is in place for the Codiac Regional RCMP, which polices Moncton, Dieppe and Riverview. 

A Moncton councillor has introduced a motion to be debated Nov. 1 calling for the city to review whether to keep the Codiac RCMP.

At the provincial level, a motion passed at the Union of Municipalities of New Brunswick annual meeting this month calls on the province to study policing options in light of rising RCMP costs.

RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki told a committee that a review of contract policing would take place. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

Brenda Lucki, the RCMP commissioner, told the House of Commons standing committee on public safety and national security last summer that there is a federal review of contract policing. It's unclear if that review has been completed.

The Liberal-led committee issued its report in June this year. It recommended the government to examine ending contract policing, saying it should "work with the provinces, territories and municipalities to help those interested establish their own provincial and territorial police services."

It would be up to the federal government, which didn't answer questions for this story, to decide whether to implement the recommendation.