3 on shortlist to be new RCMP boss

A look at the three men shortlisted to replace him as the RCMP bids farewell to outgoing Commissioner William Elliott.
The government is expected to name a new RCMP Commissioner soon to replace William Elliott. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

RCMP headquarters will be the site for today's going-away party for Commissioner William Elliott. But despite promises to have his replacement in place by the summer and then September, the government still has not announced who will be the next top Mountie.

Elliott announced his intention to step down in February. In August, Interpol announced Elliott would be its special representative to the United Nations, starting in November.

So with the clock ticking down on his exit, the party is scheduled for this afternoon, featuring speeches by Privy Council Clerk Wayne Wouters and one of the men who was until recently in the running to be the next commissioner, Canada Border Services Agency president Luc Portelance.

The short list of four originally included Portelance but is now down to three — RCMP deputy commissioners Bob Paulson and Peter German, and Ottawa police Chief Vern White.

Formal interviews were conducted three weeks ago by a selection committee made up of executives from Public Safety and the Privy Council Office, as well as former RCMP commissioner Bev Busson and former federal solicitor general and retired Conservative senator James Kelleher.

Here's a closer look at the three men on the shortlist.

RCMP Deputy Commissioner Peter German. (Canadian Press)
Deputy Commissioner Peter German is seen by several interested observers as the front-runner in this race. With more than 30 years' experience working for the Mounties in almost every region of the country, German is very popular with frontline members. Elliott also favoured German, recently promoting him to the newly created position of deputy commissioner for Western Canada.

Elliott didn't always have a lot of friends on his senior executive team. In fact, several of his assistant and deputy commissioners complained to the department of Public Safety about Elliott's management style, accusing him of being verbally abusive, arrogant and insulting.

German is bilingual and well-educated with graduate degrees in law and political science as well as a doctorate in law from the University of London. Many of his frontline duties with the RCMP focussed on commercial crime, fraud and corruption but he also practised law as a Crown attorney and defence counsel.

RCMP Deputy Commissioner Bob Paulson. (Canadian Press)
Bob Paulson is also one who thrived under Elliott's leadership. Paulson was promoted to deputy commissioner of federal policing after his predecessor, Raf Souccar, was forced out of the position after being among those who complained about Elliott's hot temper.

Fluently bilingual, Paulson served seven years in the Canadian Forces before joining the Mounties. He spent most of his RCMP career in British Columbia and is regarded as an excellent major crimes investigator. Also popular among frontline Mounties, many say they respect his experience working the beat.

As an assistant commissioner, Paulson was in charge of contract and aboriginal policing, undoubtedly an asset as the force continues to negotiate new contracts for serving the provinces. On the downside, Paulson is also seen as a gruff straight-shooter who may have to work on becoming more diplomatic.

Ottawa Police Chief Vern White. (Canadian Press)
Vern White worked for the RCMP for more than 20 years before becoming chief of the Durham regional police force and then Ottawa Police Services. White spent much of his RCMP career in the North where he became an advocate of restorative justice, drug courts and hiring more aboriginal people.

Currently working on a PhD focused on leadership, White also has a master's degree on conflict analysis and management.  White is also seen as a straight-shooter with strong opinions who may also have to work on diplomacy.

Several observers predict he would champion the need for big reforms inside the force.

White was most recently in the national news for his handling of a case where male and female Ottawa police officers were caught on video forcibly strip-searching a woman in a cell block. In guaranteeing that officers would be held to account for their actions, White won kudos from the public. However, there was grumbling among the rank-and-file, with some accusing White of not standing up for his officers.

White is proficient in English and French and his experience heading up two unionized police forces could be seen as a big plus, as the RCMP wrestles with a court ruling that said it was unconstitutional to prevent Mounties from forming an association.