(Phil McLachlan/Black Press Media)

(Phil McLachlan/Black Press Media)

RCMP watchdog calls for report deadlines to ensure timely Mountie responses

At present, legislation simply requires the RCMP commissioner to respond as soon as feasible

The RCMP watchdog is calling for statutory deadlines to ensure the Mounties respond to complaint findings in a timely way amid mounting concerns over excessive use of force by police.

The Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP makes findings and recommendations in complaint cases, but these are then sent to the police force for input before a report is finalized — and that can take years.

Commission chairwoman Michelaine Lahaie told a House of Commons committee studying systemic racism in policing that the RCMP takes an average of 17 months to respond.

One of the commission’s reports has been waiting for a response for over three-and-a-half years.

“This is unacceptable in any system where accountability is critical,” Lahaie said.

At present, legislation simply requires the RCMP commissioner to respond as soon as feasible.

Lahaie wants to see a recently drafted memorandum of understanding with the RCMP on timelines enshrined in a bill working its way through Parliament. The proposed legislation is primarily intended to expand the commission’s scope of review to cover the Canada Border Services Agency, as well as the national police force.

The testimony follows widespread expressions of concern about police brutality and discrimination toward Black and Indigenous people.

Lahaie said many use of force incidents involving these communities do not result in a public complaint.

During a review of RCMP actions in northern British Columbia, the commission found many Indigenous people were either unaware of the public complaint process or did not trust it.

Lahaie said the process can be excessively bureaucratic and difficult to navigate, and although the commission has taken some steps to improve accessibility, more must be done.

For instance, the commission has made the public complaint form available in 16 different languages, recently working with the government of Nunavut to ensure it was available in Inuktitut.

“Even with these strides, the commission still needs to do more to ensure greater accessibility, trust and transparency in the complaints process,” Lahaie said.

“Ultimately, my goal is for people to believe that they can file a complaint with the commission and be treated fairly, without fear of reprisal.”

To achieve that, the commission needs to consult Indigenous and racialized communities to identify and break down the systemic barriers that exist within the current system and implement their suggested changes, she said.

“We must adopt a regime that better serves all communities.”

Lahaie recommended the bill now before Parliament include public education and outreach to Indigenous and racialized communities.

It currently makes public education mandatory for the commission’s new oversight mandate for the border agency, but these activities remain optional under the RCMP Act, she noted.

“The only way that the public complaint process works is if people trust the system. The only way to build that trust is through our outreach efforts.”

Lahaie also suggested both the RCMP commissioner and the president of the border agency be required by law to provide an annual report to the review commission outlining progress on implementing its recommendations.

Finally, she said the commission needs to be “appropriately resourced” to conduct systemic reviews of issues, which would mean not having to choose between doing such reviews or dealing with complaints from the public.

Jim Bronskill , The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

RCMP

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A sign indicating a COVID-19 testing site is displayed inside a parking garage in West Nyack, N.Y., Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. The site was only open to students and staff of Rockland County schools in an effort to test enough people to keep the schools open for in-person learning. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
4 more deaths, 54 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

This brings the total to 66 deaths in the region

Toronto Public Health nurse Lalaine Agarin makes preparations at Toronto’s mass vaccination clinic, Jan. 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
3 deaths, 234 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health over the weekend

One death connected to outbreak at Kamloops’ Royal Inland Hospital, where 20 patients and 28 staff have tested positive

People skate on a lake in a city park in Montreal, Sunday, January 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
The end of hugs: How COVID-19 has changed daily life a year after Canada’s 1st case

Today marks the one year anniversary of COVID-19 landing in Canada

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Employers might be able to require COVID-19 vaccination from employees: B.C. lawyer

‘An employer must make the case’ using expert science, explains lawyer David Mardiros

Interior Health reported 79 new cases of COVID-19 and two new death in the region Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (Ben Hohenstatt/Juneau Empire)
79 new COVID-19 cases, two deaths reported in Interior Health

Both of Friday’s deaths were both recorded at long-term care homes

Dr. Penny Ballem, a former deputy health minister, discusses her role in leading B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccination program, at the B.C. legislature, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. holds steady with 407 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday

14 deaths, no new outbreaks in the health care system

A Cessna 170 airplane similar to the one pictured above is reported to be missing off the waters between Victoria and Washington State. Twitter photo/USCG
Canadian, American rescue crews searching for missing aircraft in waters near Victoria

The search is centered around the waters northeast of Port Angeles

Interior Health reported two more COVID-19 deaths at Sunnybank Retirement Center in Oliver Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021. (File photo)
COVID-19 claims lives of two more South Okanagan care home residents

Five residents of the Oliver care home have died since the outbreak was first declared

Jonathon Muzychka and Dean Reber are wanted on Canada-wide warrants. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
Convicted killer, robber at large after failing to return to facility: Victoria police

Dean Reber, 60, and Jonathon Muzychka, 43, may be together

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens during a postelection news conference in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
30% of B.C. recovery benefit applications held up in manual review

The province says 150 staff have been reassigned to help with manually reviewing applications

Adam Dergazarian, bottom center, pays his respect for Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, in front of a mural painted by artist Louie Sloe Palsino, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Kobe Bryant’s presence remains strong a year after his death

Tuesday marks the grim anniversary of the crash that took their lives

Surrey RCMP are investigating after a pedestrian was struck and killed at 183 Street and Highway 10 Friday night. (File photo)
Modelling of predicted transmission growth from the B117 COVID-19 variant in British Columbia. (Simon Fraser University)
COVID-19 variant predicted to cause ‘unmanageable’ case spike in B.C: report

SFU researchers predict a doubling of COVID-19 cases every two weeks if the variant spreads

The Brucejack mine is 65 km north of Stewart in northwestern B.C. (Pretivm Photo)
B.C. mine executives see bright gleam in post-COVID future

Low carbon drives demand for copper, steelmaking coal

Most Read