Jul 21 2010
VANCOUVER - Despite official denials that the B.C. government is considering replacing the RCMP with a new provincial police force, a briefing note has been prepared for the solicitor-general on the costs of such a move.
The province’s contract with the RCMP expires in 2012.
A version of the document written in April was released to The Sun in response to a Freedom of Information request. However, it’s so heavily censored it’s difficult to determine what conclusion it reached on the cost of replacing the Mounties.
Solicitor-General Mike de Jong has stated publicly the province has no intentions of ditching them.
But his ministry is refusing to say why, if that’s the case, it’s calculated the cost of replacing them, or even who requested the briefing note in the first place.
The three-page note, dated April 6, 2010, is titled “Issue: Cost of replacing the RCMP with our own BC Provincial Police Force.”
It notes that under the terms of B.C.’s agreement with Ottawa, B.C. pays 70 per cent of the cost of provincial policing and the federal government picks up the remaining 30 per cent.
“In 2008/09 the budget for the RCMP provincial force was approximately $428 million, of which the province paid $299.5 million and Canada paid the remaining $128.5 million,” it states, adding Ottawa also picks up 100 per cent of the cost for things like building security and some specialized units.
Beyond those few details, however, the rest of the document was blanked out by the government on the grounds that the information it contained could be harmful to intergovernmental relations or the financial position of the province.
The Sun asked to speak with de Jong about whether B.C. was seriously considering a provincial police force.
Ministry spokesman Ian Indridson said the minister was not available for comment, but directed The Sun to an answer de Jong gave to NDP MLA Mike Farnworth in the legislature on June 3 in which he said B.C. plans to stick with the Mounties.
“We’re in these negotiations to continue the relationship with the RCMP,” de Jong said, according to a transcript of the exchange.
“This is not an exploratory mission [where maybe an] option is to recreate a provincial police force. The objective here is to settle upon an agreement, a long-term agreement with the RCMP.”
Asked who requested the briefing note, Indridson refused to say.
“We cannot advise on why this specific note was created, but generally speaking, briefing notes are typically generated for a range of reasons for the information of senior government officials,” he wrote in an e-mail.
The date on the briefing note, April 6, was three days before former solicitor-general Kash Heed resigned over an investigation by the RCMP into alleged offences involving his election campaign.
The Sun made several attempts to contact Heed to ask if he was the one who asked for the briefing note, but did not receive a response.
RCMP spokesman Insp. Tim Shields said, to his knowledge, the force has not created its own estimate of whether a provincial police force would cost B.C. more than using the Mounties.
But Shields said B.C. gets good value from the RCMP and the province benefits from the fact the force can bring in officers from across the country in emergencies.
B.C.’s “E” Division is the largest RCMP division in the country, with about one-third of all RCMP officers in the country working here.