Opinion

Cannan: High hopes for new review and complaints commission

Just before the House of Commons rose last week, the government tabled Bill C-42, the proposed Enhancing Royal Canadian Mounted Police Accountability Act.

Constituents will be pleased to know that the legislation will create a new Civilian Review and Complaints Commission (CRCC) for the RCMP to replace the existing Commission for Public Complaints (CPC) against the RCMP.

It will increase the transparency of investigations into serious incidents involving a member of the RCMP, reduce the potential for bias and promote public accountability of these criminal investigations.

The CPC was established as an independent body to hold the RCMP accountable to the public by enabling public complaints about the on-duty conduct of RCMP members to be examined fairly and impartially.

It is mandated to:

• receive complaints from the public about the conduct of RCMP members; conduct reviews when complainants are not satisfied with the RCMP’s handling of their complaints

• hold hearings or carry out investigations on complaints and

• report findings and make recommendations to the commissioner of the RCMP and the minister of public safety, with a view to correct and prevent recurring policing problems.

The CRCC will have the same powers of the former commission along with new powers and authorities to carry out its mandate.

Those will include:

• broad access to RCMP information to help it perform its duties (it will be required to safeguard against unauthorized disclosure of privileged information)

• enhanced investigative powers, including the authority to summon and compel witnesses to give evidence

• the ability to conduct joint investigations and share information with other police review bodies

• the ability to conduct policy reviews to determine the RCMP’s compliance with legislation and regulations, as well as policies, procedures, guidelines and ministerial directives and

• the authority to appoint civilian observers to assess the impartiality of criminal investigations of serious incidents involving the RCMP or, with approval of the relevant provincial authority, when the investigation is being done by the RCMP or another police service.

The commission will consist of one chairperson and up to four additional full- or part-time members.

Members will be appointed by the governor in council for up to five years with the possibility for reappointment and extension.

Members or former members of the RCMP will not be eligible to be appointed as members of the commission.

The enhanced powers and authorities of the CRCC will be similar to those of other modern international, federal and provincial review bodies.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police remains an important symbol for Canada.

But, as we know here in Kelowna-Lake Country, Canadians’ confidence in the RCMP has been tested over the past few years and citizens have rightfully demanded that the RCMP be held fully accountable for its actions.

Our local RCMP detachments serve us well in the Okanagan and it is important to acknowledge that the vast majority of RCMP employees perform an exemplary service to Canadians and deserve our support and respect.

However, it is equally important that the RCMP has acknowledged the need for increased accountability so that those few members who fall short of the expectations of the RCMP can be dealt with in an expedient and appropriate manner.

Through Bill C-42, the government has listened to Canadians and taken action to ensure that the RCMP remains accountable to the public it serves.

Call for proposals

The call for proposals for Social Development Partnerships Program—Disability Component (SDPP-D) was launched on June 22. The call is open to all of Canada and will close on Aug. 17.

Canadian not-for-profit organizations can receive up to $250,000 per year for up to three years for projects that support the federal government’s commitments under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Projects must focus on one or more of the following priorities: active living, accessibility, vulnerable populations and increasing awareness of disability-related issues.

For more details about the call for proposals, please visit  www.hrsdc.gc.ca/eng/community_partnerships/sdpp/call/disability_component/page00.shtml.

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