The federal Minister of Public Safety says he is “deeply committed” to improving RCMP oversight by strengthening the role of the national police force management advisory board.
In an interview, Marco Mendicino expressed a desire to give the council “the independence and autonomy it needs” – possibly through legislative amendments – to ensure adequate oversight.
He also stressed the need for a clearer line of communication between counsel and his office to help build “trust” between Canadians and the RCMP.
These measures could respond to calls for many years to strengthen the accountability of the RCMP through more robust external oversight.
During the last election campaign, the Liberals promised to improve the current advisory committee to bring it in line “with other Canadian police services in order to exercise complete oversight over the RCMP”.
The task of expanding the council’s role was included in Mendicino’s ministerial mandate letter. In turn, Mendicino’s recent marching orders to RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki direct her to ensure the council “is fully supported as it assumes a greater oversight role.”
The eight-member Management Advisory Board, chaired by Douglas Moen, is currently mandated to provide advice, information and reports on the administration of the RCMP to the Commissioner, including the development and implementation of policies and the efficient use of resources.
The Liberals created the external council of part-time civilian advisers in 2019 to help the RCMP modernize after years of battling internal bullying and harassment.
The board may provide the Minister with a copy or a summary of the directions it gives to the Commissioner.
Mendicino said he wanted a clear, strong and transparent line of communication between the council and the minister, including the tabling of reports in his office which could then be used ‘to advance the public discourse’ on the police force. .
He also wants to ensure that the Board of Directors presents concrete recommendations on workforce diversification, training, discipline and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.
Mendicino sees a role for the Board in strengthening the Independent Harassment Resolution Center, intended to resolve workplace harassment and violence complaints outside the RCMP chain of command, without bias or conflict of interest. ‘interests.
“We will keep all options on the table when it comes to whether or not any of these changes require legislation,” Mendicino said.
Shortly after Mendicino spoke to The Canadian Press, a political storm erupted over whether Lucki had promised the Prime Minister’s Office in April 2020 that details of the weapons used in the horrific shooting in Nova Scotia would be made public.
The difficult aftermath of the worst mass shooting in Canadian history, which is currently the subject of a public inquiry, is just the latest challenge for the legendary police force.
In his May mandate letter to Lucki, Mendicino said his primary goals are to ensure the RCMP meets the needs of Canadians, to combat systemic racism, to eliminate harassment and discrimination, and to create a culture of responsibility, diversity and inclusion.
He asked Lucki to support the development of national standards on crisis response, leading an external review on de-escalation amid concerns about police brutality and discrimination.
He also expects the RCMP to respond in a timely manner to the reports and recommendations of the Civil Complaints Commission watchdog.
To that end, Mendicino recently introduced legislation that would require the RCMP to respond to interim reports from a revamped watchdog within six months — settling a long-standing sore point.
The RCMP commissioner has been taken to court for chronic foot-dragging in responding to interim reports from the current complaints commission. The problem caused long delays in the publication of final reports and recommendations.
“I’m singularly focused on one thing, and that’s making sure we protect the health and safety of Canadians,” Mendicino said.
Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press
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