WHY DO WE NEED AN ALBERTA PROVINCIAL POLICE FORCE?
Albertans have consistently and overwhelmingly rejected the idea and politics behind a Provincial Police Force (PPF). What is the idea behind this proposal to cancel the RCMP Alberta Service Agreement with Alberta and local governments, that we’ve had since 1932? What is the problem this is supposed to solve? Yes, we need police reform but is the replacement of the RCMP with a PPF really reform, or pandering politics?
So why have the operatives inside, and the powerful people behind the scenes with influence in the UCP, so fully committed to adopt and implement the Kenney-initiated PPF policy? Why is each and every one of the current leadership candidates onboard with this very unpopular policy? What’s going on that they are all so intent on getting rid of the RCMP, particularly in rural Alberta?
BAD POLITICS NOT GOOD GOVERNANCE
How much of this is about the embedded UCP base and their anti-Trudeau, anti-federal fixation? Are the RCMP a symbolic manifestation of that political hatred? That’s part of it, I suspect, but can’t be all of the story behind the full-court press for a PPF and dumping the RCMP. The hard cold fiscal facts alone justify seriously questioning the policy purposes, political motivation, and quality of the judgment used to impose an expensive, unwanted and unnecessary PPF in Alberta. But on it goes.
There are plenty of reasons to be suspicious and distrust the Kenney-inspired UCP persistence on this matter. Kenney, along with the Ministry of Justice and Solicitor General, commissioned a $2 million Price Waterhouse Cooper (PWC) PPF “Transition Study.” It focused on the operational requirements, necessary processes, and costs of replacing the RCMP with a Provincial Police Force. It seems like the UCP wanted this study to justify their foregone political conclusion rather than to provide a truly evidence-based assessment of the PPF policy proposal. I’m not sure they got their money’s worth. Albertans sure didn’t.
COSTS BE DAMNED
The Transition Study recommended a smaller police force than the current RCMP level of service. PWC found that even the suggested smaller PPF would cost hundreds of millions of additional tax dollars than the current larger RCMP services. And that additional PPF funding requirement calculator did not account for the loss of $188 million annual federal funds currently provided to Albertans to support our current RCMP services.
Of course there would be an additional cost for the transition from the RCMP to the PPF. That would take time because of its complexity, and likely severely reduce protective police services to Albertans during a multi-year transition period. The service reductions would be felt all over the province in areas that now depend on the RCMP for community policing. But the damage to protective services would likely be especially destructive in rural areas of Alberta.
There is deep and wide-spread opposition to the Kenney-inspired persistent pushing of this PPF policy. The political framing of the PPF is that it offers a locally controlled solution to rural crime. That is pure, unfounded pandering to the UCP base – unlikely to be true, based on the evidence.
The National Police Federation, the newly-established union representing the RCMP officers across Canada, commissioned Pollara in November 2021 to do a survey of Albertans on the PPF proposal. They found that 84% of Albertans wanted to keep the RCMP. Only 9% supported a transition to a PPF. What’s more, 94% wanted a detailed accounting of the full costs of the shift BEFORE any decision was made about dumping the RCMP.
As for the much-touted rural support for dumping the RCMP, the Pollara survey found that 80% of Albertans overall are “consistently satisfied with the Alberta RCMP level of policing services”. In the rural areas, the percentage of citizens who are consistently satisfied with the RCMP was 85% in the north, 81% in central Alberta, and 71% in the south.
The Rural Municipalities Association of Alberta submitted a report to the UCP government in March 2022 officially opposing the creation of an Alberta Provincial Police Force. The Rural Municipalities Association Members went further. In their 2022 Spring Convention, they passed a Resolution that “endorsed continued support” of the RCMP in Alberta.
The UCP is a populist political party but the insistence and determination of the party, the leadership candidates and the elites in the base are not pursuing a popular policy when it comes to pushing for a Provincial Police Force, and they are not providing a credible rationale.
It isn’t a UCP policy about lower costs, better service or more local control of policing. So what is the motivation for a PPF instead of the RCMP? The Trudeau-hate and Ottawa-despising that runs deep within the UCP is part of the story, but that surely can’t be the entire reason. What’s really going on and what can citizens do about it?
MORE TO COME AND…
More blog posts are to come exploring the why, what and wherefore of the UCP about their incredible, dangerous passion for a PPF. So Stay Tuned, Stay Attuned and Don’t Tune Out. Your Freedoms and Our Democracy could very well be at risk if this PPF policy goes through in the way it is being pushed so far. Remember the current UCP government has a majority, so they can do whatever they like within their constitutional jurisdiction and inside the Charter.