Paying more for little benefit

What, exactly is up with the idea of getting rid of the RCMP in favour of a provincial police force? This question baffles a lot of people, who tend to see it as a power grab (by the Kenney government) for the sake of grabbing power. Or perhaps just another petty point-scoring effort in its ongoing tiff with Ottawa?

What, exactly, are the RCMP doing that does not serve the interests of Albertans? That is, what are they doing or not doing that could be done better by a provincial police force? And one – by the way – that would cost Alberta taxpayers more. The RCMP, being a federal organization, is partly subsidized by the federal government. Say goodbye to all that if the RCMP is chucked out in favour of an ‘APP.’

Again, what would be gained? Control by the provincial government. As far as we can tell there would be little or no advantage there, unless you think using the police as a political tool is a good thing.

But (some will protest), better to have it as a tool of Edmonton than Ottawa! Again, fair enough, and if you are among those who think nothing good can come out of Ottawa, that may be the only argument needed. But the RCMP has a long history of providing decent policing, and costing less than any provincial force could or would. Alberta did have its own police force, but gave it up as unaffordable during the Great Depression. The changeover now would be hugely expensive, and go on being more expensive – all for a merely hypothetical advantage of greater provincial control. But control of what? What is lacking?

John Spaans, the Slave Lake Staff Sgt., told us last week he thinks a provincial force would have a harder time manning undesirable posts than the RCMP does. The financial incentive to get people to go to (fill in the blank) would have to be a lot more than the RCMP offers, he figures.

It may be a moot question, though. The RCMP contract with Alberta runs out in 2032, Spaans says. There is a possibility it may not want to continue being a contract service and retrench in a role similar to the FBI in the U.S.A. and leave municipal and highway stuff up to whoever else wants to do it. It might be an attractive option for the RCMP, given the headaches involved in dealing with drunks and domestic disputes all the time.

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