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Amid calls for RCMP reform, Trudeau receives report on federal mandate

Click to play video: 'N.B. RCMP facing criticism over rural policing'
N.B. RCMP facing criticism over rural policing
WATCH: N.B. RCMP facing criticism over rural policing – Jul 20, 2023

A committee of parliamentarians that oversees national security has submitted a report to the prime minister about the RCMP’s federal policing mandate.

The report is considered confidential for now, but a declassified version must be handed over to Parliament within 30 days of its next sitting.

The National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians began reviewing the RCMP’s role in February 2021, and was meant to establish baseline knowledge about the Mounties’ mandate and capabilities.

In addition to being the police of jurisdiction for much of rural Canada, the RCMP mandate includes national security, organized crime, personal protection for the prime minister and other dignitaries and cybercrime.

In March, the public inquiry investigating an April 2020 mass shooting in Nova Scotia called on the public safety minister to review and restructure the RCMP.

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The inquiry’s commissioners said the RCMP should keep the tasks suitable for a federal policing agency, and other responsibilities should be reassigned.

Click to play video: 'No firm commitment on Mass Casualty Commission recommendation deadline'
No firm commitment on Mass Casualty Commission recommendation deadline

“This may entail a reconfiguration of policing in Canada and a new approach to federal financial support for provincial and municipal policing services,” the Mass Casualty Commission’s report read.

The inquiry had heard weeks worth of evidence about the RCMP’s failures during and after the shootings.

Gunman Gabriel Wortman disguised himself as a Mountie when he shot and killed 22 people, including a pregnant woman, in rural Nova Scotia. The RCMP did not publicly release information about his disguise for hours, despite having a number of credible reports from witnesses, and failed to adequately warn the public about the ongoing manhunt.

The gunman died in a confrontation with officers more than 13 hours after the killings began.

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The inquiry found issues ranging from understaffing and underfunding of rural policing to poor training and co-operation and deceptive communication by the RCMP.

The Mounties have also come under scrutiny in a number of Canadian jurisdictions. Alberta recently decided against formally pursuing a plan for its own provincial police force, although the provincial justice minister said his department would continue to consult on the issue. The city of Surrey, B.C., plans to replace the RCMP as the police force of jurisdiction.

Municipalities across the country have also complained about the rising cost of contract policing since the RCMP union secured pay raises from the federal government in 2021.

It is not clear whether the federal Liberal government intends to undertake an external review of the national police force, which this spring marked 150 years since the founding of the North-West Mounted Police.

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