EDMONTON — Alberta has signed a 20-year contract with the RCMP that gives the province more control over policing.
The deal, expected to cost $200 million in its first year, is likely to form a template for similar deals with provinces and territories that use the RCMP.
“It’s a fair deal for both,” Alberta Solicitor General Frank Oberle said Friday. “It establishes a modern relationship built on consultation, respect for each other’s roles and responsibilities and an understanding of each other’s needs.”
Oberle said the deal maintains a 70-30 cost split between Alberta and Ottawa. It also allows Alberta to gradually assume 70 per cent ownership of RCMP infrastructure.
“If at some point an RCMP facility is abandoned in favour a larger one, then we may want to convert to a provincial or municipal resource — a library, or any other building,” he said. “We paid for it. Now we’re going to own it.”
The contract represents a three per cent cost increase over last year, with similar increases expected annually in the next five years.
Friday’s announcement appears to ignore recommendations from the Air India inquiry, which suggested the RCMP focus on high-level crimes such as terrorism.
In June 2010, Justice John Major wrote: “There is a need for greater specialization and a more concentrated focus on the means for investigating and supporting the prosecution of national security offences.
“Perhaps the time has arrived to reassess the role of the RCMP in providing contractual policing services in many of the provinces.”
But any speculation that Alberta would form its own police force such as Ontario and Quebec is now dead. The idea has been supported in the past by some provincial cabinet members.
A provincial police service doesn’t make economic or law-enforcement sense, Oberle said.
“Crime doesn’t follow municipal, provincial or even national boundaries and we shouldn’t restrict ourselves to local policing. In the caucus room, I’m not aware of any sentiment for any provincial police force other than the RCMP.”
Alberta is the first jurisdiction to announce a new contract, but the four years of negotiations that preceded Friday’s signing have been held in conjunction with the other seven provinces and three territories that also use the RCMP. Those deals are expected to be similar.
Unique to Alberta, however, is the use of provincial sheriffs for duties such as highway traffic enforcement and prisoner transport. Integration and co-operation between the two forces will continue, said Deputy Commissioner Dale McGowan, commander of K-Division.
Federal Public Safety Minister Vic Toews suggested that other provinces take a look at the Alberta deal.
“I think the model that Alberta has adopted and the balance that they have between some of their own provincial resources and the RCMP is really a model that other provinces may want to look at.”
The federal government hopes to reach similar deals with the remaining provinces and territories before the end of November, he said.