RCMP promises are no longer good enough
It won’t have come as a complete shock to the ordinary citizen in this province to learn that the RCMP’s Quebec division is rent with toxic divisions, its management and operations structures in need of a complete overhaul.
Evidence of RCMP incompetence has been thick on the ground in the province for decades. To take three memorable examples, there were the 1971 infiltration of FLQ cells and the fraudulent “manifesto” released by the RCMP, urging greater violence; the 1972 barn-burning by the RCMP security service; and the 1973 RCMP break-in to steal a list of Parti Québécois members.
Those incidents might seem like history, of no relevance to today, but as a report by The Gazette’s William Marsden shows this week, the force’s current failings look a lot like a continuation of that history: poor communication, careerism run amok, management that turns a “blind eye to mediocre performance, incompetence and especially reprehensible actions when it suits them.”
This latest report, by three Université de Montréal professors, is just one in a series. In recent years, there have been two other major internal inquiries into what is wrong inside the RCMP. These exercises in hoped-for self-improvement usually follow egregious instances of incompetence.
To take, once again, just a couple of highlights: Four RCMP officers were murdered in Alberta by a man the force had known was dangerous for decades. In 2007, four RCMP officers left Robert Dziekanski writhing on the floor of the Vancouver International Airport within 30 seconds of their arrival. He died after being Tasered by inexperienced officers.
The RCMP at its best is a world-class organization, capable of carrying off complex assignments. It was instrumental in bringing an end to Quebec’s biker wars. And Project Colisée, another enormous success, resulted in a series of spectacular arrests of Montreal mobsters, including Nicolo Rizzuto.
A federal police force should be the most sophisticated, skilled and competent law-enforcement body at our disposal. The RCMP’s job is key to the running of a democracy such as Canada’s. The agency enforces federal laws, including drug-trafficking, terrorism and domestic security.
We might have greater confidence in the RCMP’s effort to remake itself, if it was monitored by an independent civilian oversight body. But instead of a tough, independent monitor, we’re given sporadic reports promising long overdue changes. It’s not good enough. We need to see the changes.