March 4, 2010
Janice Tibbetts, Canwest News
OTTAWA — The Harper government is going ahead with a longstanding promise to create a new independent commission to keep an eye on the RCMP, committing money in this year's budget to establish a strengthened review body.
Without providing details on how the new commission will operate, the government said it would spend $8 million over the next two years on the organization, which it promised will "enhance independent review of RCMP actions."
The existing RCMP public complaints commission has been repeatedly decried as a toothless body that depends on the force's voluntary co-operation for its investigations and has no power to probe whether the force is overstepping its power involving national security and organized crime.
Several reports and advocates have called for the creation of a new oversight body and the government has often stated it was awaiting the pending inquiry report on the 1985 Air India bombing.
"The creation of a new civilian independent complaints commission for the RCMP will contribute to the overall reform and modernization efforts underway at the RCMP," the budget document said.
The Mounties have been under intense public scrutiny in recent years, arising from their use of Taser stun guns, their involvement in the Maher Arar affair, and a pension scandal that rocked the upper echelons of the force, prompting a major federal review and modernization drive.
In December 2006, the judge who led the inquiry into Arar's deportation to Syria from the United States, after the RCMP passed on faulty intelligence to the Americans, recommended that the RCMP public complaints commission be revamped and given the power to review all national security activities by the RCMP.
Arar, a Syrian-Canadian, was put on a plane and sent to Damascus after being arrested during a stopover at a New York airport.
Paul Kennedy, the former head of the RCMP public complaints commission, has said that a stronger review body should have access to all RCMP files and be empowered to subpoena documents and compel people to testify.
The budget also owns the door to the possible privatization of the RCMP's Forensic Laboratories Services.
WELCOME to TRUTH ... not TASERS
Thursday, March 04, 2010
March 4, 2010