Blue Line

RCMP host information meeting in Strathmore discussing potential provincial police service

January 28, 2022  By Canadian Press

Jan. 27, 2022, Strathmore, Alta. – The RCMP hosted an informational meeting at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch #10 on Jan. 21 to speak to local residents about the potential impact of Alberta switching to a provincial police service.

Kevin Halway, regional director of the National Police Federation, said the RCMP is receiving a lot of community engagement at similar meetings as they tour the province and meet with people to talk about the situation.

“A lot of people are left with the same questions – why are we going down this road and where is this money coming from?” said Halway.

“That’s the whole purpose of our engagement sessions, is to provide some information to the people of Alberta who will be left holding the bar tab, so to speak, and will be at risk of losing some of the services they’ve been provided by the RCMP.”

Replacing the RCMP with a provincial police service was a recommendation of the Fair Deal Panel, which toured Alberta in 2019 and 2020, followed by the province engaging with its stakeholders in the fall of 2021.

The province has concluded, following a report from PwC Canada, that their analysis warranted further study of the idea and so public engagement is now being held to gauge interest and support.

Halway said he firmly stands against the idea and wants to show Albertans why starting from scratch with a new service is not the answer, as well as encouraging people to contact their local MLAs.

“We want people to get engaged, reach out to their MLAs, reach out to their local elected officials, make sure those people know how they feel and then take those voices to the minister’s office to tell them they’re not interested in moving to a provincial police force,” said Halway.

“We encourage conversation, absolutely, at all levels of government. And we encourage improvements to be made; unfortunately, I don’t think that moving away from the RCMP and towards a provincial policing service would be better.”

The feedback from Strathmore residents, he added, was not dissimilar from the feedback he has received elsewhere during the informational sessions. Halway said people are in support of keeping the RCMP and are asking why the provincial government is considering the change.

“The majority of Albertans are not interested in this, (and people) are left wanting more answers from the government than the government is providing,” said Halway.

“The people of Alberta who we have talked to on this topic are feeling right now that the government is not listening to them.”

As opposed to simply creating an entire new system; to which he said would cost Albertans upwards of $185 million more per year to operate, on top of the projected excess of $166 million in setup costs; solutions to improve current RCMP services would be much more favourable.

“There’s obviously a lot of money at stake that the taxpayers will be left to (pay), but there’s also a lot of risks to the community policing programs that have taken the RCMP years to really hone and develop,” said Halway.

“We will keep this up as long as we need to. We have many more in-person sessions planned for both February and March, as well as some online sessions.”

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