By Katie DeRosa
VICTORIA — With negotiations over the policing contract in B.C. stalled, the federal government has given the province an ultimatum: sign a 20-year deal by November or we’ll withdraw RCMP services from the province.
B.C. Solicitor General Shirley Bond said Tuesday the federal government is effectively forcing the province to sign an inadequate “take-it-or-leave-it” deal without accountability or cost control measures.
“That ultimatum is an unfortunate development for local governments who’ve been consistently concerned about containing their escalating RCMP costs,” Bond said in a terse statement, after raising the issue at Union of B.C. Municipalities meeting in Vancouver.
Bond said negotiations are being stonewalled by the federal government, which refuses to push back the November deadline.
“I am committed to making a deal that reflects a true partnership, strengthens accountability and contains costs in specific ways — matters the federal side has been ignoring in the interest of giving us an ultimatum,” Bond said.
The province and the federal government have been negotiating over the last four years for a new RCMP contract. The current one expires March 2012.
Bond said she was disappointed when, in the last month, Alberta and Saskatchewan broke away from negotiations by a block of provinces and inked 20-year deals with the RCMP.
“We still believe, fundamentally, that all levels of government benefit from having a national police presence like the RCMP in community policing but I am starting to wonder whether the federal government still wants to be in contract policing,” Bond said in the statement.
The RCMP in have faced a barrage of criticism in B.C. after several high profile police shootings and deaths, included the Tasering death of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski in the Vancouver International Airport in October 2007.
Critics have urged the B.C. government to negotiate a five-year deal with the RCMP so that it can look at setting up a provincial force. The province also wanted the RCMP to be accountable to the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner and the new Independent Investigations Office, which look into police misconduct and police-involved shootings or serious injuries, respectively.
The RCMP could not be reached for comment.
Victoria Times Colonist