Rob Shaw: Ottawa tells B.C. that RCMP will continue contract policing

Rob Shaw: Ottawa tells B.C. that RCMP will continue contract policing

The future of the RCMP is a little clearer, after a new promise from the federal government that the Mounties will remain in British Columbia communities as a contract police force

A new letter from federal Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc to his provincial counterpart Mike Farnworth makes clear the RCMP is ready to stay in its role as a front-line police department for dozens of towns, villages, rural areas and cities in British Columbia.

“I want to assure you that I, and the federal government as a whole, are committed to honour our contract policing obligations,” wrote LeBlanc, in the previously-unreleased letter.

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The move comes after Premier David Eby, alongside other premiers, complained about a lack of clarity from Ottawa over whether a review into the RCMP would conclude it could no longer continue front-line policing while transforming into a modern federal police force that also focuses on national issues like terrorism, cybercrime and money laundering.

Eby had demanded notice from the RCMP, because it would take years for the province to create its own provincial police force to fill the gap in B.C. communities if the Mounties were to pull out of the arrangement.

“It’s definitely a confusing message from the federal government,” said Eby. “It’s really hard to know which direction they are going in.”

The union that represents RCMP officers, however, said the letter reaffirms in strong language the intention of the force to stay in contract policing.

“I think the language is pretty clear, and that is if you want the RCMP we are here to stay so let’s start discussing what the future looks like,” said Brian Sauve, president of the National Police Federation.

“I don’t think the minister could have said it any better.”

Eby said he’ll still be watching for clarity from Ottawa on how it solves officer shortages and improves training to backfill vacancies in the force. B.C. provided $230 million in backfill 270 rural and specialized RCMP units in 2022, but a further 240 provincial RCMP positions in the province remain vacant.

Rob ShawRob Shaw

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