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Ottawa should explore removing Mounties from communities, MPs suggest

Report also recommends empowering the RCMP's watchdog

Mounties are assigned to contract policing in roughly 150 municipalities, all three territories and in every province except Ontario and Quebec.

Mounties are assigned to contract policing in roughly 150 municipalities, all three territories and in every province except Ontario and Quebec.

Photo: Reuters / Valerie Zink

RCI

The federal government should look at possibly ending contract policing within the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, fundamentally changing the national police, suggests a landmark report from MPs.

A transformative national effort is required to ensure that all Indigenous, Black and other racialized people in Canada are not subject to the discrimination and injustice that is inherent in the system as it exists today, notes the report from the standing committee on public safety and national security, which was tabled today in the House of Commons.

The committee, made up of MPs from all four official parties, has been studying the issue of systemic racism in policing since last June, spurred on by international movements to rethink police budgets and use of force in the wake of George Floyd's death in police custody in the U.S.

It also came as the RCMP faced its own intense scrutiny to be more sensitive to racial issues and mental health after a number of controversial incidents were caught on camera.

The committee heard from 53 witnesses, some who felt the RCMP does not appropriately respond to the needs of the communities they serve through contract policing.

Reconsider policing contracts with RCMP: report

Mounties are assigned to contract policing in roughly 150 municipalities, all three territories and in every province except Ontario and Quebec.

Outside of its boots-on-the-ground mandate in those areas, the force also has federal policing obligations ranging from protecting the prime minister to thwarting terrorist attacks and investigating organized crime.

Consequently, the RCMP may not have the capacity to police areas where they are not familiar with community concerns, notes the committee's final report.

The report made 42 recommendations, including that the government of Canada explore the possibility of ending contract policing within the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and that the Government work with the provinces, territories and municipalities to help those interested establish their own provincial and territorial police services.

Conservative MPs disagree

However, in a supplementary report, Conservative MPs on the committee disagreed.

The need to address racism in policing does not eliminate the need to deal with rising gang violence, cyber-crime, illegal firearms trafficking and other criminality. Nor does it make it a realistic prospect, even from a purely operational standpoint, to replace the RCMP as the primary local law enforcement agency for large areas of Canada with a patchwork of new community police forces, they wrote.

Despite the more negative episodes of its history and the need for change in the present, the RCMP remains a national institution that has played a vital role in Canada's development and the preservation of law and order.

The report also made recommendations to empower the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the public complaints watchdog, when conducting investigations into the RCMP.

It also suggests that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police be transitioned away from a paramilitary force into a police service model with civilian oversight.

Catharine Tunney (new window) · CBC News

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