Switching from the RCMP to a provincial police force wouldn’t bring enough benefits to warrant the disruption, the Rural Municipalities of Alberta said
By Diego Flammini
The organization representing Alberta’s rural municipalities officially opposed the creation of a provincial police force.
In May 2020, Alberta’s Fair Deal Panel submitted its report to the provincial government, which recommended an exploration of an Alberta Police Force to replace the RCMP.
The Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA) submitted its own report to the Ministry of Justice and Solicitor General on March 31, 2022, to identify its reasons for opposing the move. This is in addition to the RMA passing a resolution at its 2022 Spring Convention to continue supporting the RCMP.
The RMA opposes the creation of a provincial police force because the government’s report lacks enough information to warrant the work necessary for a transition – which could cost up to $371 million.
Currently, the federal government pays about $185 million, or 30 per cent, of Alberta’s policing costs annually.
“The proposed provincial policing model does not address the RMA’s core priorities about levels of service, how costs will be covered, and local input into policing,” Paul McLauchlin, president of the RMA, said in a statement. “While certain elements of the model are worth exploring, there is no evidence provided as to why these cannot be implemented within the existing RCMP arrangement. Based on the arguments provided by the province so far, there’s simply no evidence that a switch to a provincial police service will be worth the cost and disruption.”
The Fair Deal Panel’s report indicated residents are concerned with the RCMP, a federal entity, having control of Alberta law enforcement.
But the RCMP and Alberta government work together on policing issues.
“Inserting politics into important decisions about the cost and quality of policing and public safety in the province is quite alarming,” McLauchlin said in the RMA statement. Spending millions of dollars to shift to an unproven, poorly explained model just for the sake of distancing the province from the federal government would be a major mistake.”
Alberta had its own provincial police force in the past.
The Alberta Provincial Police formed in 1917 after the Royal North-West Mounted Police left the prairie provinces during the First World War because of a lack of resources.
The police force was dissolved in 1932 as a cost-cutting measure during the Great Depression. The RCMP began policing operations in Alberta in April of that year.