Friday, February 8, 2008

David Marley on Policing

As you know, Metro Vancouver is currently involved in a debate over the desirability of "regional policing". Yesterday, SFU hosted a conference on the subject, one that drew a great many local politicians amongst other interested individuals. During the event not a single person mentioned that the RCMP "provincial services agreement" with BC expires in 2012. Yet, later in the day, the federal minister of public safety, with a beeming mayor of Surrey at his side, announced that construction will begin next year on a new headquarters for the RCMP's "E" division, to be built in "Green Timbers", Surrey.

Here we have yet another flagrant example of bureaucratic absolutism. It matters not that the people of BC have to date had no opportunity to debate the relative merits of keeping the RCMP in the role of municipal police force throughout BC post-2012. The federal bureaucracy, apparently with the active compliance of various provincial and local officials, is moving full speed ahead to spend vast sums of taxpayers' money on constructing a facility, presumably to create a fait accompli with respect to the RCMP's future in our province.

In 1950, the Attorney-General of the day, Gordon Wismer, effectively abrogated our country's Constitution by administrative fiat when, for dubious short term financial gain, he signed away BC's obligation to discharge the administration of justice insofar as the all important policing function is concerned. Today, the chief law officer of BC maintains direct control over a mere eleven so-called "independent" police forces across the province. By far the majority of communities are policed by a federal para-military force, run from distant Ottawa, one that is increasingly of late under the microscope for totally unacceptable behaviour of one sort or another.

We need a vigorous debate in BC, up to and including the May, 2009 provincial general election, as to whether to keep the RCMP as our dominant police presence. I believe we would be wise to encourage regional policing wherever numbers warrant in urban and suburban centres and, as for the balance of the province, we ought to resurrect a "British Columbia Constabulary".

I hope you will use your "bully pulpit" to promote such a necessary province-wide debate.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I was at the forum; I brought up the expiration in 2012 of the RCMP contract. I was making mention of the reason we were all assembled and Dianne Watt, Surrey's mayor, seemed oblivious to the date of expiration, but the very next day, she announced that the RCMP was going to build the new headquarters in Surrey, in the Green Timbers area. It strikes me that the RCMP and Mayor Watt are working toward a foregone conclusion to the issue of regional policing. It saddens me that there was no need for all of us to be there, if in fact the decisions have already been made. I gave up a day in my life for no good reason, unless I fancy myself to be window dressing. Judging by the lack of coverage of this matter, and the public's obliviousness, we'll all have to continue on as before.