An Act to amend the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act

Sponsor

Alistair MacGregor  NDP

Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)

Status

Outside the Order of Precedence (a private member's bill that hasn't yet won the draw that determines which private member's bills can be debated), as of Nov. 1, 2022

Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill C-303.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, an excellent resource from the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Public SafetyAdjournment Proceedings

November 23rd, 2022 / 7:10 p.m.
See context

NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Madam Speaker, over the last number of months, we have heard serious allegations of political interference in the RCMP investigation in Nova Scotia. I am a member of the public safety committee, and those allegations actually prompted the committee to have the Minister of Emergency Preparedness and the RCMP commissioner appear before the committee twice, once in the summer and once more recently, so they could answer questions about these allegations.

The second meeting was held after the recording was made public and the committee had a transcript of the words that were said in that call. While I am now satisfied that we do not have enough evidence to substantiate those claims, throughout this process I have always been curious about how we can fix this problem and prevent it from happening again in the future. What I have discovered is that a large part of the problem lies in how the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act is written.

Currently, subsection 5(1) states:

The Governor in Council may appoint an officer, to be known as the Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, to hold office during pleasure, who, under the direction of the Minister, has the control and management of the Force and all matters connected with the Force.

The term “under the direction of the Minister” is so sufficiently vague that we could drive a truck through it. It is open to interpretation and has led to problems.

That is why last week, after having introduced a private member's bill, Bill C-303, to tackle this and firm up the language, I asked a question on whether I could get the government's support on this bill. What my bill seeks to do is specifically add clarity, that dividing line between what the Minister of Public Safety can do, the kinds of directions they can give and what is reasonably expected to maintain independence from our national police force.

In my bill, I took the time to state that the minister would not be able to issue any directions in “operational decisions”, when it comes to “matters respecting law enforcement decisions in specific cases, such as those relating to investigations, arrests and prosecutions”, or “any matter that would interfere with the Commissioner’s powers or authority” in managing the force. It would put that legislative thick line between what the minister can and cannot do and also the powers of the commissioner.

The bill is a good idea, and I would really encourage the government to look at it seriously. In fact, I would even welcome the government presenting its own bill on this. I think it would find a lot of support in the House because, again, the problems have been so very clearly demonstrated.

Members should not just take it from me because Commissioner Lucki was on the stand at the inquiry last week and directly referenced my bill. She said, “I think it's time that we put something to writing that outlines...what you can and cannot do from both the Commissioner's perspective and the politicians”. She later said, “in the last six months I've had to respond to it on several occasions, and so...my hope is that my replacement won't have to.” Those are quotes from the commissioner of the RCMP, who herself acknowledges that this is a problem and that my bill would fix this issue.

Therefore, given all of this information, will the parliamentary secretary now commit to supporting this bill so that, going forward, we do not have to worry about this issue any further?

Public Complaints and Review Commission ActGovernment Orders

November 3rd, 2022 / 1:55 p.m.
See context

NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate my colleague's speech. She talked about police officer morale. She has probably heard about Janet Merlo, who spent 20 years in the RCMP, reported persistent bullying and is still hearing from RCMP members about persistent sexual harassment in the force. I am just wondering if she has any comments on how Bill C-20 will address those concerns and maybe even act as a morale booster.

Second, I take well my colleague's comments about the commissioner and the episodes we have had at the public safety committee. Does she have any comments on my private member's bill, Bill C-303, which seeks to add some clarity and specificity on the relationship the Minister of Public Safety has with the commissioner of the RCMP?

Royal Canadian Mounted Police ActRoutine Proceedings

November 1st, 2022 / 10 a.m.
See context

NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-303, An Act to amend the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act.

Mr. Speaker, allow me to briefly explain the why, what and how of this bill.

We have all seen the allegations of political interference with regard to the RCMP. I think a big reason for that is the way the RCMP Act is currently written. Currently, subsection 5(1) of the RCMP Act provides for the appointment of a Commissioner, “who, under the direction of the Minister, has the control and management of the Force”. This archaic provision has been and continues to be a recipe for lack of clarity and controversy.

The bill I am introducing today would amend the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act to clarify the scope of the directions that the Minister of Public Safety and the Minister of Emergency Preparedness can issue to the commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Specifically, the minister shall not issue direction in respect to the following: any operational decisions, any matters respecting law enforcement decisions in a specific case, such as those relating to investigations, arrests and prosecutions, and any matter that would interfere with the commissioner's powers or authority. It would also require that all directions be issued in writing, tabled in Parliament and published in the Canada Gazette.

I would like to thank my colleague, the member for Hamilton Centre, for seconding this bill. I urge all parliamentarians to support this legislative initiative so that we have clarity of direction for the RCMP.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)