RCMP commissioner Brenda Lucki appears at Senate national security and defence committee in Ottawa on Wednesday, May 30, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Feds poised to bolster RCMP accountability with external committee

Long-anticipated move is the latest attempt at rebuilding the force following years of sagging morale

The federal government is poised to try to improve RCMP accountability by placing some external eyes on the national police force.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale and RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki are expected to announce the plans at a news conference in Ottawa on Wednesday.

The long-anticipated move is the latest attempt at rebuilding the force following years of sagging morale over internal bullying and harassment.

Insiders say the measures to be announced Wednesday are the beginning of a process that involves several steps to ensure the force benefits from independent advice and scrutiny.

The announcement will represent the Liberal government’s response to two critical 2017 reports.

In the first, the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP said the force lacked both the will and the capacity to address the challenges that afflict its workplaces.

The commission urged the government to usher in civilian governance or oversight for the paramilitary-style police force.

The second report, a review by former auditor general Sheila Fraser of four harassment lawsuits from female members, also called for substantial reforms.

At the time, Goodale said both reports described “similar serious and long-standing concerns” and would “inform further action” to ensure that the RCMP is a healthy and respectful employer.

Lucki became the RCMP’s first permanent female boss last year when she took over the commissioner’s post from Bob Paulson.

Before he left, Paulson delivered an apology to hundreds of current and former female officers and employees who were subjected to discrimination and harassment dating back as far as four decades.

The words of regret came as the Mounties settled class-action lawsuits stemming from allegations that cast a dark pall over the force.

The Trudeau government has directed Lucki to modernize and reform the RCMP’s culture, protect employees from harassment and workplace violence, and foster reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.

Goodale’s mandate letter to Lucki, issued last year, also asked her to make the force representative of Canada’s diverse population by embracing gender parity and ensuring that women, Indigenous members and minority groups are better reflected in positions of leadership.

Another priority is implementing measures to improve health and wellness after an auditor’s report found the force was failing to meet the mental-health needs of its members due to a lack of resources, poor monitoring and meagre support from supervisors.

Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press

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