Policing becomes an issue in B.C. NDP leadership race

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.”


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Just wondering

Feb 24, 2011 at 12:33pm

Wrong. The RCMP have been the target of attacks ever since they raided the BC legislature. The ongoing assaults by the mainstream media have been relentless and although there may be a few bad apples in the barrel our police force stands pretty tall compared to others. I do believe that to talk of their removal is a grave mistake and to entertain this idea may put a candidate in a position of major retreat after closer study. The people of this province have been in my opinion terribly misled though sensationalism of the MSM and the attempt to keep the RCMP on the defence. Take a look at the other police forces out there and I believe that per capita the RCMP stand head and shoulders above the rest.

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Michael S. Thomson

Feb 24, 2011 at 7:58pm

Ironically, it is, in a very indirect way, the NDP's fault that the RCMP are our provincial police force. Confused. Well it has to with the growing popularity of the NDP's predecessors the CCF back in the 1930s. In the 1940 provincial election, the governing provincial Liberals did not elect enough members to form a solid majority government and formed a coalition with the third-place provincial Conservatives to keep the dreaded socialists from forming a government. The Coalition government would last until 1952 but by 1950 serious cracks appeared in B.C.'s first "Free Enterprise Coalition," after all before the CCF had arrived the province's Grits and Tories hated each other with a passion. The enemy of my enemy is not always my friend. The Liberals were the senior partners in the Coalition government and the Conservative thought they were not getting the plumb cabinet positions. There were arguements over spending priorities, provincial debt, and railway policies. Yves St Laurent's federal Liberal government offered provincial Liberal "Boss" Johnson an RCMP contract which would give the provincial Grits a whack of federal spending money to placate the provincial Tories. All it cost was a 92-year old provincial instition, the BCPP, which was just 8 years from celebrating a centennial. Ultimately, the Coalition government still fell apart due to political infighting and the Liberals and the Conservatives were relagated to third and fourth-place positions in the Legislature after former provincial Tory WAC Bennett's Social Credit won the 1952 federal election. So if and NDP government did revise the BCPP it would be very ironic. Thus endeth the history lesson.

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Feb 25, 2011 at 10:01am

The RCMP are a paramilitary police force that take orders directly from the federal government. They have no place in a democracy and should be disbanded.

Just wondering....I'm just wondering if you expect all us to forget the YVR Four, or the G20 fiasco. Our force stands pretty tall compared to who...the Libyan Military? Sheesh buddy.

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Apr 28, 2011 at 11:50am

This was a very valuable article, and the comments valid and credible - although I think that "just wondering" is not looking at the need for a genuine consent of the governed agreement between the population and the next police vendor organization. There is an ongoing stream of ideas on what this kind of contract would include at the facebook page: "BC Police Contract 2012".

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