A Zoomer Solution for the RCMP Difficulties

By Richard Rohmer

It’s fair to say that we Zoomers have always been proud of our Royal Canadian Mounted Police. In their scarlet jackets and distinctive caps they rather symbolize our Canada. The RCMP’s members turn up at all important Canadian events wherever in the world.

But something has gone badly wrong with the RCMP’s at-home in Canada image.

The RCMP are in the middle of what has to be one of the severest, most damaging series of allegations of incompetence and outright deceitful actions that threaten the forces’ credibility and its essential public trust.

Is there a solution to the RCMP blackened reputation? There certainly is. It is there, deep in the damning Air India report on the Force written by former Supreme Court Justice John Major and released just a few days ago on 17 June. It is contained in a suggestion by Mr. Major that has caught little or no media attention. But it is the only solution.

It is also a solution that would require enormous political guts for the current or any other federal government or parliament itself to impose. But it is the current party/leader in power that is strong principled enough to ‘go for it’ and take the hard steps to create the solution.

The Air India report uses some dramatic language.

“This remains the largest mass murder in Canadian history, and was the result of a cascading series of errors.”

“The level of error, incompetence, and inattention which took place before the flight was sadly mirrored in many ways for many years, in how authorities, governments and institutions dealt with the aftermath of the murder of so many innocents.” 329 passengers, most of them Canadian.

Mr. Major said that the government was simply not prepared to deal with terrorism and the two major investigating forces (the RCMP and CSIS) became bogged down in turf wars, bureaucratic battles and alarming displays of investigative ineptitude. Between them, Mr. Major said, there was ample intelligence to signal that Flight 182 was at high risk of being bombed by Sikh terrorists. Yet taken together, their performance at gathering, analysing and communicating information was wholly deficient.

Mr. Major made many strong recommendations to the Canadian government on how to overcome those RCMP and CSIS difficulties, including the one that deserves showcasing.

Then to add to the Air India stain on the RCMP’s reputation was the virtually concurrent report by commissioner Thomas Braidwood on the tasering death in 2007 of Polish immigrant, Robert DziekaÅ„ski, at the hands of the RCMP at the Vancouver International Airport.

The Braidwood report came down hard on the RCMP. Really hard. So hard that the B.C. government has taken the unusual step of retaining a special prosecutor, Richard Peck, to consider charges against the four RCMP officers involved in the incident.

So, what is the solution to the RCMP mess and its loss of the public’s confidence?

Mr. Major has it. In basic terms he suggests (and this should be his prime recommendation) that the Force may have spread itself too widely, and it is time it dropped its contractual policing duties that it conducts in a number of provinces.

That’s the solution.

In effect require each contracting province to follow the example of Ontario and Quebec. It’s simple. Establish your own provincial police force.

Transfer to that provincial police force all of the RCMP personnel operating in the province. Change uniforms to the provincial police garb. Localize command and control into the hands and ministers of the relevant provincial government.

Generally speaking, this is the true, the real solution that Zoomers can think about. It would leave the RCMP with the duties and responsibilities across Canada that it has in Ottawa and in Ontario and Quebec. And with its great horse show and ceremonial events.

The current Canadian government would do the Canadian people (and us Zoomers) a massive great service if it would seriously examine this Major solution.