Former public security minister Ralph Goodale says a bill now stalled in the House of Commons could be stepped up to improve oversight of the RCMP, a suggestion that comes as calls for reform of the national police force increase.
The RCMP Civil Claims and Review Commission (CRCC) is the external body charged with reviewing Mounties’ behavior based on public complaints.
Liberals introduced a bill earlier this year, before the COVID-19 crisis halted non-pandemic business, which would expand the agency’s mandate to also cover complaints related to the Canada Border Services Agency.
But Goodale, who served as minister of public security between 2015 and 2019, said the bill could be further strengthened.
“With the legislation before the House, it might be a good idea to add other things to it besides the original intention to also cover the CBSA,” Goodale told CBC News.
“For example, you could set a time frame within which the commissioner should respond to any reports or recommendations that come from the review body.”
Whenever the CRCC is dissatisfied with RCMP’s handling of a complaint, it submits its findings to the RCMP Commissioner for review. The final CRCC reports can only be published once the commissioner intervenes.
RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki, who was appointed during Goodale’s term in office, has recently come under fire for the time it sometimes takes her office to evaluate CRCC reports. Those delays ultimately stop the public release of those reports, but Lucki has not violated the act because he does not impose a limit on the amount of time it can take to respond.
A series of high-profile CRCC investigations have stalled for months, in some cases for more than a year. One of those overdue reports looked at the RCMP’s response to the 2013 New Brunswick indigenous-led anti-fracking protests. Another examined the RCMP’s handling of the Colton Boushie investigation.
Boushie, a 22-year-old man from the Red Pheasant Cree Nation, was shot dead during an altercation with Saskatchewan farmer Gerald Stanley in August 2016. A jury at Stanley’s trial acquitted him of second-degree murder. in February 2018.
More representation is needed, Goodale said.
Goodale, who lost his seat in Saskatchewan in the 2019 election, said adding an appeal mechanism to the law could improve the integrity of the review process.
“Another thing that could be done is to establish some method of review or appeal, if you have a situation where the review body and the commissioner disagree with each other,” he said.
“There must be a way to resolve that dispute or disagreement, and having some kind of review or appeal process could also strengthen the credibility of the process so that people can trust that this is really transparent, truly accountable, and that justice is Being done. “
The former Liberal cabinet minister also said more could be done to ensure that specific communities are represented in the review process.
“Could you have, for example, a panel of experts that represents the diversity of the community and can rotate in the process when a particular community is involved?” he said. “So people affected by the processes will be able to trust those processes and be reflected in them.”
Goodale says Bill C-3 should happen soon
Calls for changes to the RCMP have increased in recent weeks after a series of high-profile and controversial arrests and takedowns caught on camera. Those calls are part of a broader debate in this country over the use of police force, sparked both by incidents in Canada and by the wave of protests across the continent caused by the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis.
The supervisory legislation, Bill C-3, is in second reading in the House and will probably not be reviewed again until the fall.
While parliamentary procedure prevents something new from being added to a bill, Goodale said he believes his recommendations are in keeping with the original scope of the legislation.
“That legislation should be adopted as quickly as possible,” he said.
“The important thing is that review agencies have the resources and expertise to be able to do the work that the public expects them to do, deliver responses in a timely manner, and include affected communities so that they can be trusted in the process and so that see that accountability is done. “
Goodale submitted an identical invoice in early 2019 during his time overseeing the portfolio. While he had bipartisan support, he failed to make it through Parliament before the election, prompting questions about why he was not introduced to the Liberals’ first term earlier.
The CRCC receives, on average, more than 2,000 complaints from the public each year, ranging from allegations of wrongful arrest and misuse of force to reports of mismanagement.
Source From ”cbc.ca”