(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 Vernon man's faith in humanity has been restored since his lost wallet was returned, credit cards, cash and all, to the RCMP station. (Contributed)
Good Samaritan turns in cash-filled wallet to Vernon Mounties

Owner’s faith in humanity restored following a tough few weeks

Esa Carriere, 23, was the victim of a 2018 Canada Day homicide. (File)
Youth sentenced in Kelowna Canada Day killing

Young woman pleaded guilty to lesser assault charge, sentenced to 15-month intensive support and supervision program

A rendering of UBC’s planned downtown Kelowna campus. (Contributed)
Kelowna’s new downtown campus to help alleviate UBCO’s space crunch

The sizable development is anticipated to be completed by the fall 2024 semester

Vernon's Noric House long-term care facility is dealing with an influenza outbreak amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (File photo)
Two more deaths at Vernon care home

Noric House case numbers remain steady, but death toll rises

The BC SPCA is adapting its fundraising after cancelling events due to COVID-19 restrictions. (Twila Amato - Black Press Media)
BC SPCA gets creative with fundraising as pandemic continues

The non-profit’s in-person fundraising events all had to be cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions

Vancouver Canucks’ Travis Hamonic grabs Montreal Canadiens’ Josh Anderson by the face during first period NHL action in Vancouver, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horvat scores winner as Canucks dump Habs 6-5 in shootout thriller

Vancouver and Montreal clash again Thursday night

Interior Health has declared the Cariboo Chilcotin a community cluster. (Angie Mindus photo)
Interior Health declares Cariboo Chilcotin region a COVID-19 cluster, 215 cases since Jan. 1

Most cases are related to transmission at social events and gatherings in Williams Lake

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Vernon Fire Rescue Services responded to a single-vehicle rollover Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, after a vehicle came into contact with a pedestrian light pole at Kalamalka Lake Road and 14th Avenue. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
Minor injuries in rollover after vehicle hits Vernon crosswalk pole

The vehicle flipped onto its side, closing Kalamalka Lake Road

Penticton city council heard from Dhorea Ramanula, of Paid Employment for People with Lived Experiences Tuesday, Jan. 19. Ramanula’s organization has operated public washrooms in Kelowna staffed by community support workers since April, she says Penticton could benefit from a similar facility. (Michael Rodriguez - Kelowna Capital News)
Penticton interested in new public washroom concept to combat vandalism

Public washrooms with on-site support staff have been operating in Kelowna since April

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Canada Post had remove a lot of letter boxes around Penticton after they were vandalized. This letter box at the United Church on Main St. remains unscathed. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Street mailbox vandals strike Penticton drop boxes

Canada Post had to remove a bunch of the vandalized units

Most Read