Two NDP leadership candidates have indicated their willingness to look into the idea of creating regional police forces.
Adrian Dix and Nicholas Simons have also signalled an interest in the RCMP's policing contract in B.C., which expires in March 2012 and is currently the subject of negotiations.
Dix even suggested that if the NDP forms a government with him as premier, he would consider bringing back the provincial police force and sending the Mounties packing.
“We're going to look at everything, and I'm reviewing those questions,” Dix told the Straight in a February 20 interview before the start of a Vancouver campaign event. “We have to put everything on the table. The issue for me is that B.C. residents be safe, and that we have the best, highest-quality police that we can have in B.C.”
The Straight asked the Vancouver-Kingsway MLA how the NDP will handle the negotiation of a new RCMP contract if it's the winner of an election that could be called before the end of the year.
“We'll be working to strike a hard bargain, and we're going to review all the options to make sure that people in B.C. are treated fairly,” Dix said.
Responding to a survey from the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, Simons stated that he supports the creation of regional police forces “if it is in the public interest and could be linked to the discussion of RCMP services”.
Simons also noted that he favours the release of the results of an audit of RCMP police services previously ordered by the provincial government before a new contract is finalized.
A third NDP leadership candidate, Mike Farnworth, said before the 2009 election that the issue of regional policing should be studied before the B.C. government decides to renew the RCMP contract in 2012.
Public Safety Minister and Solicitor General Rich Coleman declined a request by the Straight for an interview.
According to ministry staff, talks are taking longer than expected, with a number of issues still unresolved.
In the last provincial election, only the B.C. Green party pledged in its platform to bring back a provincial police force. Now, the new B.C. First Party is also calling for a provincial police force.
“The RCMP come from all over Canada,” B.C. First spokesperson Chris Delaney told the Straight in a phone interview. “So in some respects, they're disconnected from the communities that they serve.”