Evidence of meeting #20 for Public Safety and National Security in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was rcmp.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

4 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Kevin Sorenson

You have a minute and a half.

4 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

I'd like to ask you a question, as a police officer, as a professional, and I'm going back to the gun registry, if you don't mind. Some of the witnesses who came before the committee told us that the registry, which the commissioner's report is very supportive of, actually, if you look at it.... I understand you didn't sign it, but the report signed by Mr. Elliott is quite supportive of the registry. Witnesses came and told us that the registry gets in the way of the relationship between police officers and law-abiding citizens. It creates distrust between law-abiding citizens, specifically law-abiding gun owners, and police officers.

In your professional opinion, is that the case?

4 p.m.

Commissioner, Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Commr Robert Paulson

To be absolutely clear, I don't have a full understanding of what you just said, of how it gets—

4 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Witnesses came to the committee, and they said that because police officers have the right to take away their weapon, this creates a distrust between them, as law-abiding gun owners, and police officers. This is what the government has been arguing for quite a while, actually.

I'm just wondering if you believe that's the case. Do you think that law-abiding gun owners, as citizens, have a distrust for police generally—not the RCMP—because of the existence of the gun registry and the powers the police have with respect to gun ownership?

4 p.m.

Commissioner, Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Commr Robert Paulson

Well, I think.... Look, that's part of the fundamental challenge of running a police force the size of the RCMP.

To the public trust issue, we have a lot of powers, and we can impact the lives of Canadians in many, many different ways, so it doesn't surprise me. That's why I think we undergo the sort of level of scrutiny and demands for accountability and transparency that everybody makes of us. So—

4 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

So it's not the registry. It's how police are trained to deal with citizens.

4 p.m.

Commissioner, Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Commr Robert Paulson

I can't speak to what other witnesses have said about that, sir. I just know that we have to be mindful of people's rights.

4 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Kevin Sorenson

Thank you, Commissioner Paulson.

Thank you, Mr. Scarpaleggia.

Mr. Chicoine, you have five minutes.

January 31st, 2012 / 4 p.m.

NDP

Sylvain Chicoine Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thank you, Mr. Commissioner, for coming here today. We wish you all the best in performing your new functions. Since Canadians seem to have very high expectations of you, we would like you to make the best decisions possible in order to restore the confidence of Canadians in the RCMP.

Mr. Paulson, a task force on governance and cultural change in the RCMP informed the government in 2007 that the current oversight system of the RCMP lacked transparency. What is your evaluation of the current state of oversight of the RCMP by a civilian third party?

4 p.m.

Commissioner, Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Commr Robert Paulson

First of all, thank you for your comments.

I am very much in favour of external monitoring of the RCMP. I will continue in English to make myself clear.

I think the external review of policing is absolutely vital to public confidence. When I was the assistant commissioner in contract and aboriginal policing, I held the pen, actually, on developing our external review and investigation policy.

I think it's.... Where jurisdictions have a means of providing that external review and investigation, our policies require that we subscribe and cooperate. I think it's absolutely vital to our core mission.

4 p.m.

NDP

Sylvain Chicoine Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, QC

Do you think that a national civilian oversight body should have the power to make recommendations that are binding on the RCMP commissioner?

4 p.m.

Commissioner, Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Commr Robert Paulson

In fact, that is the case now.

4 p.m.

NDP

Sylvain Chicoine Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, QC

In your opinion, what would be the best measures to take soon in order to improve civilian oversight so as to restore the public's full confidence in the RCMP?

4 p.m.

Commissioner, Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Commr Robert Paulson

First of all, I think that the government has the responsibility to make decisions regarding external oversight of the RCMP. Our responsibility is to provide the information regarding the RCMP, and I make every effort to do so as commissioner. That is what we are doing in the case of the CPC harassment investigation. We are providing all our information to the CPC.

4 p.m.

NDP

Sylvain Chicoine Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, QC

You mentioned earlier that you intended to centralize the resources in Ottawa. However, some stakeholders see the RCMP as perhaps too large to be overseen properly.

How will you make sure that commanding officers inform you properly about the issues related to complaints and the corresponding disciplinary measures?