Jan 05 2011
OTTAWA - The federal advisory council on the RCMP says the national police force should have a management board to provide outside advice and oversight.
"We believe that such an improved and updated governance model will become the foundation upon which all successful reforms and improvements rest," the federally appointed Reform Implementation Council says in its fifth and final report.
A board with a mandate spelled out in legislation would transform management of the force and help quell disputes like the recent revolt mounted by disgruntled senior officers, the council says.
"In difficult management situations such as the RCMP experienced last summer, a board would be a major asset in resolving issues or heading them off before they boil over."
The council also urges making the force more independent from government, giving it new flexibility to manage personnel.
Both ideas have been percolating for about three years as the RCMP undergoes sweeping reform.
RCMP Commissioner William Elliott recently endorsed introduction of a management board and greater independence for the force.
However, the moves would require federal approval and implementation.
Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said in a statement Wednesday he would "carefully consider the advice of the council to determine how best to support the RCMP in continuing its process of modernizing."
The council, appointed in 2008 to help foster change within the troubled force, says a board of management for the RCMP should be made up of "eminent Canadians chosen for their independence, insight and expertise."
A board would "challenge senior management to make better substantive decisions, offer them a wide range of insights into options and implications, and provide a sounding board for exploring ideas about future directions," the council report says.
The government should move ahead with the board "without delay" and separate status for the RCMP "as soon as possible after that" to sustain the momentum of change that could easily slip away, the council adds.
Since it would likely take well over a year to usher in a board, the council - whose mandate is now officially over - suggests appointment of an interim body to ensure the Mounties don't go without external advice in the meantime.
In its report, the advisory council also says the RCMP has not moved aggressively enough to communicate more openly with employees and the public.
"Indeed, communications activities sometimes seem to be perceived by management as marginal or optional," the report says.
"The perception of the force could be transformed to one of openness and transparency, within the limits imposed by legal and operational constraints."