*** Conservative Senator Wallin - who has no expertise to speak on the matter (unlike Colin Kenny for example) - should help stop the government breastfeeding of the RCMP like it is a baby. It is our national police service - among the top in the world - and deserves effective oversight just like every other grown up federal agency. With a budget that exceeds the GDP of some countries, why the heck not?
The RCMP has a serious cultural problem that needs fixing and unless government steps up - they run the risk of losing/barring the kind of talent the country needs in doing what needs to be done. MS ***
OTTAWA–The federal government should boost RCMP ranks by 5,000 to 7,000, hire more women and visible minority officers, and impose stronger civilian oversight on the Mounties, says a report by a group of Liberal senators.
Although Parliament is prorogued, six Liberal senators broke with custom, and with their Conservative counterparts on the Senate's national security committee, and released a "position paper" Monday based on last year's hearings into change at the RCMP.
The report, entitled Toward a Red Serge Revival, calls for robust civilian oversight of national security investigations and other policing; mini-cameras on cruisers; and greater efforts to recruit women and minorities that would be tied to bonuses for senior officers. It also echoed the suggestion of current civilian chief, Commissioner William Elliott, that his successor should come from within RCMP ranks.
The Mounties insisted Monday via a press spokesman that the RCMP "aims" to reflect diversity, and has brought in a new independent investigations policy that "goes as far as the RCMP can" to enhance oversight and review until governments come up with new measures.
The Liberal report acknowledges "some progress" has been made in overhauling the national police force since lawyer David Brown described it as "horribly broken" more than two years ago. But the Liberal senators say it "falls short of what is needed."
They say the Security Intelligence Review Committee, the civilian watchdog that oversees CSIS, Canada's spy agency, should take over scrutiny of the RCMP's national security activities and those of the CSE, the secretive stand-alone electronic eavesdropping agency.
Other kinds of policing should face a tougher civilian review agency with the power to subpoena documents and witnesses, and with access to RCMP records, they said. The Liberals dismissed the RCMP's recently announced policy to try to farm out investigations into serious allegations of police wrongdoing to outside police or civilian agencies where possible as "smoke and mirrors."
Conservative Senator Pamela Wallin, to whom the government referred inquiries, blasted the Liberal paper, and accused Senator Colin Kenny, who has chaired the committee for several years, of "grandstanding" and pulling numbers "out of the air."
Wallin said: "The Conservative government put $400 million into hiring 1,500 new officers. He's way oversimplifying this stuff."
Wallin said the force is trying to hire more women and visible minorities, "but we actually live in a democracy, you can't be conscripted. ... It seems counterproductive to say there's some quota that has to be met and then that's proof the RCMP is modernizing."
Overall, Wallin said the report contributes nothing constructive to public debate about the RCMP, nor does it bring effective pressure to bear by ensuring the right kind of change happens. (MS: As opposed to the status quo courtesy of the Con's right?)