Canada

Report calls for RCMP to split from federal government

A report released Friday recommends that the RCMP become a separate entity from the federal government, with its own civilian board of managers.

Force still would be accountable to Public Safety Ministry

A report releasedFriday recommends sweeping changes to the RCMP, which would includeestablishing the force as a separate entity from the federal government, with its own civilian board of managers and its own organization to handle complaints.

The recommendations, nearly 50 in total, were made by a task force that was asked by the federal government to investigate the structural problems plaguing the RCMP.

David Brown has recommended "fundamental changes" to the RCMP. ((CBC))
The task force spent five months interviewing more than 2,000 RCMP members at detachments across the country. Members talked of understaffing, chronic fatigue, equipment shortages and management structures that haven't worked for years.

"What emerged was a picture of an honourable and revered Canadian institution with rank and file members struggling to do their best under a tremendous burden of an inefficient and inappropriately structured organization," said David Brown, the Toronto lawyer at the helm of the task force.

He told reporters at a press conference in Ottawa that creating the RCMP as a separate entity from the government would give the organization the ability to make decisions about human resources and finances, decisions that are currently made by the federal treasury board.

"[The RCMP currently]doesn't have the authority to make simple expenditures or hire a new person without hours of paper work," Brown said.

"They are required to go up a hierarchy of government and back down again. It slows things down, it makes it much more difficult for them to effectively plan."

Still undergovernment's authority

A newcivilian board of managers should be tasked with handling the new responsibilities of a separate RCMP, Brown said. Much like the board of a Crown corporation or private corporation, the new boardwould oversee the RCMP's finances, resources, personnel andproperties.

While the RCMP would be separated from the government, it would still beaccountable to the Department of Public Safety, Brown said.

Another key recommendation in the report is that a new independent commission be created to deal with complaints, a role that is currently handled by two separate bodies.

The new committee would hear complaints from RCMP members and the public, but it would also launch its own investigations and have the power to summon witnesses and compel testimony. Its findings would be made public and its rulings on discipline and grievance issues would be binding.

It would also track complaints in order to identify trends and systemic issues in the force and play the role of an ombudsman.

Changes should be made by 2009

Brown said changes should be made by Dec. 31, 2009, and he's recommending that a council be created to help the RCMP implement them.

RCMP Commissioner William Elliott welcomes the report. ((CBC))

He said it may mean the RCMP will need more money from the federal government.

William Elliott, the Commissioner of the RCMP, welcomed the report and said it will help the force move forward.

"The RCMP must change," he said, noting that changes are already being made. "And we must change in significant and relevant and meaningful ways to address the problems described in the task force report.

"I have no doubt the report will contribute greatly to what I see as a journey of renewal," he added.

Report follows scathing pension report

The report comes six months after Brown, working as an independent investigator, released a scathing report outlining mismanagement of the RCMP pension and insurance plans.

When the pension report was released in June, Brown declared the culture and management of the RCMPwas "horribly broken." He noted that whistleblowers within the force had come forward to complain of wrongdoing, only to be punished for their efforts.

In the report on the pension funds, Brown recommended thata task force be created to review the overall structure and governance of the RCMP.

Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day agreed and put Brown, the former chairman and CEO of the Ontario Securities Commission, at the helm of that task force.

The task force also included:

  • Linda Black, who serves on the Law Enforcement Review Board of Alberta, an independent body responsible for hearing appeals from citizens with police-related complaints.
  • Richard Drouin, a lawyer who is chairman of the North American Electric Reliability Corporation and previously served as CEO of Hydro-Québec.
  • Norman Inkster, former RCMP commissioner and former president of INTERPOL.
  • Larry Murray, deputy minister of Fisheries and Oceans

It's been a year of scandals

The task force's report comes during a scandal-plagued year for the Mounties that goes beyond the pension fundallegations.

The year featured the resignation of RCMP commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli after he admitted he had given incorrect testimony to a parliamentary committee looking into the Maher Arar affair.

The force has also faced heavy criticism over its fatal takedown of a Polish immigrant involving Taser use by four Mounties at Vancouver International Airport in October.

The RCMP has also been reeling from the recent deaths of two members killed in the line of duty in separate shootings in two northern communities.

The slayings led to heavy examination of the RCMP's policies on officer backup request procedures in short-staffed and remote detachments.

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