Top Mountie defends RCMP labour bill, cites need for swift decision-making

The RCMP commissioner says a federal labour bill exempts things like Mountie staffing levels, equipment purchases and harassment from bargaining to ensure management can run the police force free of interference in key matters.

OTTAWA — The RCMP commissioner says a federal labour bill exempts things like Mountie staffing levels, equipment purchases and harassment from bargaining to ensure management can run the police force free of interference in key matters.

Bob Paulson says some significant issues cannot wait the time it takes to resolve them through arbitration.

But the top Mountie told a Senate committee today that doesn’t mean those issues are completely off the contract-negotiation table.

He applauded a federal promise to appoint a panel of “eminent Canadians” to review controversial elements of the government bill if senators pass the legislation in its current form.

Last year, the Supreme Court of Canada affirmed the right of RCMP officers to collective bargaining and gave the government time to create a new labour-relations regime.

Some senators, including former Mountie Larry Campbell, say the federal bill that would usher in the new system concentrates too much power in the commissioner’s hands.