Twenty-five-year Mountie Robert Paulson declared on November 16, the day he was officially named the new commissioner of the RCMP, that he will transform the troubled police force.
But Paul Palango, an investigative journalist and author who has written three critical books about the RCMP, isn’t optimistic about this.
“After the appointment of the last three commissioners, I predicted that they would do nothing and the state of the RCMP would be worse at the end of their tenure,” Palango told the Straight in a phone interview from Nova Scotia. “I would say that there is no evidence that Mr. Paulson is the right guy with the right mandate to fix the RCMP. And that things are inevitably destined to get worse, unless there’s some plan that we’re unaware of to fix the force.”
Promoted from deputy commissioner for federal policing, Paulson replaces William Elliott, the first civilian to head the RCMP. A former soldier, Paulson joined the RCMP in 1986 and his record includes service in B.C.
According to Palango, there are two top things that need fixing in the RCMP. “Number one, they must get out of contract policing,” he said. “The provinces should be responsible for their own policing. This leads to number two, which means concentrating as a federal police force and with proper oversight of that police force.”
He also commended the B.C. government for moving to create an independent investigations office that will look into complaints against all police forces in the province, including the RCMP. However, the former Globe and Mail editor expects the RCMP to resist this measure. “The RCMP will not allow itself to submit itself to provincial authority,” Palango said. “If that comes to pass and they refuse to do that, then the B.C. government should set up its own police force.”