The RCMP’s laughable
new oversight agency:
Ottawa couldn’t get more cynical

Details are scarce but one big, big flaw has already emerged.
The agency can only make recommendations
which the Mounties and feds are free to ignore

June 14, 2010

Will the Conservatives get away with something so brazen? Possibly. The most common media response so far has been to grind down the metaphor about a watchdog getting more teeth. Here’s a welcome exception, though.

Here’s another response from a Globe and Mail writer who’s been sucked in about the agency’s supposedly wider powers but points out its narrow purview.

And the following is my initial post, before I learned that the agency can only make non-binding recommendations:


Read the federal government’s announcement about its proposed independent civilian review and complaints body for the RCMP and you’ll find plenty of platitudes about transparency and accountability. But details are scarce about how these goals might be achieved. Here are some key questions:

Who will conduct the investigations?

Public Safety Canada’s announcement claims the new agency will have investigative powers, but they seem limited to secondary interviews with witnesses and re-examining evidence, possibly well after the incident took place. The people who actually find the witnesses, conduct the initial interviews, uncover the evidence and do the rest of the groundwork that’s crucial to the outcome will likely be police.

Who will staff the new agency?

The feds aren’t saying. The agency needs trained civilians, free of police backgrounds and committed to impartiality. But it might end up with ex-cops or political hacks.

Will the new agency be accountable?

Although Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit isn’t perfect, it’s Canada’s most effective police oversight agency. But it took constant vigilance from community activists, opposition politicians, media and — most importantly — an especially tenacious ombudsman to keep the SIU impartial. Will there be any means of preventing the new RCMP oversight agency from becoming a police apologist like its predecessor?

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