Federal public safety minister says Ottawa committed to RCMP reform
October 14, 2022 By The Canadian Press
Oct. 14, 2022, Halifax, N.S. – Canada’s public safety minister says he recognizes the importance of reforming the RCMP in light of ongoing questions about the future of the services it offers provinces and territories.
Marco Mendicino made the comments to reporters Friday in Halifax after two days of meetings with provincial and territorial justice and public safety ministers.
Mendicino pointed to the mandate letter he issued to RCMP commissioner Brenda Lucki in May, in which he directs her to tackle challenges in the force, including its recruitment problems and the claims some units lack proper resources – subjects that provinces such as British Columbia, Nova Scotia and Alberta are grappling with.
“I think that there is a real commitment within the RCMP to advance those reforms and I know that there is a commitment across the country, between the federal government and our provincial and territorial partners, to modernize the relationship in a way that works for all,” Mendicino said.
RCMP officers, he added, need more training and need to communicate better with the public – especially during emergencies such as the 2020 mass shooting in Nova Scotia and last month’s stabbings in Saskatchewan’s James Smith Cree Nation.
“I think, unequivocally, there is a need to implement ongoing reforms, which is why we issued the mandate letter.”
Mendicino said Ottawa “embraces” the work of the public inquiry investigating the murder of 22 people in Nova Scotia and is awaiting its recommendations, which are expected in March.
Nova Scotia Justice Minister Brad Johns said there was some discussion during the meetings about RCMP services.
“This was a good opportunity to hear some of the frustrations other provinces are having,” Johns said. “But what we are really doing now is waiting to see what that (mass shooting inquiry) report comes back with.”
The Halifax meetings included a wide range of issues, such as Indigenous policing, gun violence and hate crime, and the policing of Canada’s ports
During Friday’s news conference Mendicino, referred to a “scourge of gun violence” and the killings earlier this week of South Simcoe police officers Const. Morgan Russell and Const. Devon Northrup, in Innisfil, Ont.
“We owe it to all of the victims of gun violence to take decisive action now and move swiftly to eradicate gun violence once and for all,” he said.
Mendicino said while there isn’t a single solution, the federal government wants to address gun violence by advancing “smart and common-sense laws” like Bill C-21, which would implement a national freeze on handguns.
“We are always welcoming a thoughtful discussion on the best way to move forward, but I’ve made it clear to my colleagues and I agree that we must act,” he said.
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