National Police Federation director Kevin Halwa discussed the merits of keeping Alberta’s RCMP and not replacing it with a provincial force on Jan. 31 in Red Deer. (Photo by Paul Cowley/Advocate staff)

National Police Federation director Kevin Halwa discussed the merits of keeping Alberta’s RCMP and not replacing it with a provincial force on Jan. 31 in Red Deer. (Photo by Paul Cowley/Advocate staff)

National Police Federation criticizes new Alberta provincial policing website

National Police Federation represents 20,000 RCMP officers

An organization representing Canada’s RCMP officers is criticizing a new Alberta government website on the future of policing.

The UCP government is toying with the idea of setting up a provincial police force, which it contends would be better positioned to respond to Alberta’s public safety concerns and would boost police coverage in many communities.

Justice Minister and Solicitor General Tyler Shandro rolled out a website futureofabpolicing.ca last week aimed at providing more information on what a provincial police force would entail.

“As all levels of governments across the country review their policing models, Albertans need to have all the information available to ensure they lead this national discussion and make sure the future of policing in the province meets their needs,” says Shandro, in a news release announcing the website.

The National Police Federation (NPF), which represents 20,000 RCMP officers across the country, says the public have already made it clear they support retaining the RCMP. The organization says is polling shows 84 per cent of respondents want to keep the RCMP outright or with improvement. Eighty per cent in RCMP-served areas say they are satisfied or very satisfied with RCMP policing.

In polling of UCP voters, half said replacing the RCMP with provincial police would not help at all. One-third believe it would be better and 15 per cent undecided.

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Kevin Halwa, NPR Prairie Region director, said the government says it wants public feedback before making a decision but its website suggests it is a done deal.

“No timeline for a final decision has been set,” says a statement on the website’s Frequently Asked Questions page.

However, the next sentence reads, “Alberta’s government firmly believes that establishing an Alberta provincial police service is not a question of if, but when.”

“Those two thoughts don’t jibe with each other,” said Halwa. “Either you haven’t decided and there has been no decision made or you have decided. Let’s be honest here and put all your cards on the table and let the public decide.

“They’ve continued to promote a transition away from the Alberta RCMP and into an expensive provincial police service that only a fringe portion of UCP members seem to want, which is misleading because it doesn’t appear to be in the public interest.”

Halwa also questions why the government is pushing forward with as big an issue as dropping the RCMP at a time when a new premier has yet to be chosen.

“To continue to push right now is a little bit concerning, and maybe even irresponsible.”

Halwa said replacing the RCMP would saddle taxpayers with a huge bill that will be ongoing.

“The costs are astronomical and those costs will carry on for generations.”

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Cost of provincial policing would be huge: NPR

The government’s proposed policing model would cost $759 million, compared to $595 million for the current RCMP model, he said.

In a 2020 report, the province hire PwC to study the feasibility of a provincial police force and the report found that the transition price tag would be about $366 million and would require six years to implement.

The NPR says those costs are under-estimated.



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