Michael Enright introduction:
There are two public images of the RCMP.
There’s the historical almost mythical image of the Horsemen in Red Serge taming the west, bringing law and order to a young country, always getting their man and upholding the law we’ve all seen in it in countless movies and TV shows.
And then there’s the modern stark image of RCMP officers tasering a confused, angry man in the Vancouver Airport, Officers blasting demonstrators with Pepper Spray, stone faced Mountie officers dismissing allegations of brutality and wrongful deaths based on investigations the RCMP itself had conducted into the actions of their own officers.
The contrast between these two very powerful and contradictory images perplexes and saddens Canadians. And yet, year after year, the distance between the mythic historical perception and the near brutal reality of regular civilian-RCMP encounter widens.
And no one knows this better than Paul Kennedy. Since October 2005, Mr. Kennedy has been Chair of the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP. Prior to that he had spent more than a quarter of a century working in various capacities at the Department of Justice, the Solicitor General’s office and Public Safety Canada. He knows the inner workings of Canada’s Justice and Policing systems intimately.
The Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP was created in 1988 by Parliament and is independent of the RCMP. Their mandate and vision is quite simple and as Paul Kennedy has learned, quite controversial: Excellance in Policing through Accountability.
If the vision is seemingly quite straightforward, implementing it isn’t easy. Earlier this year the Commission released a report on the Question of The RCMP investigating its own members when allegations of misconduct or even crimes arise. The Commission concluded that the RCMP should not be investigating itself. Within hours, the RCMP responded in terms that were, shall we say, unenthusiastic. Commissioner Kennedy was in our Ottawa Studio…
Listen to Hour Two, starting at 28:50 for the Paul Kennedy Interview.
I appreciate Kennedy’s attitude to his job and regret the Harper Government’s refusal to reappoint him. His term draws to a close this month even though no replacement is in sight. Canada is not well served by the Conservative Government decision. A bad situation is made worse.
Kennedy broadened the program, trying to make it meaningful and workable. He has had only reluctant cooperation of the RCMP brass and the federal government has repeatedly failed to enact changes to enabling legislation; changes that Kennedy requested.