Provincial police force study moves ahead in Alberta

If the results of Alberta's Fair Deal Panels indicate anything, it is that Albertans want just that: a fair deal. While some have opted for the separatist cause as interregional relations worsen, a popular recommendation among respondents includes replacing the RCMP with a provincial police force.

During the Fair Deal Panel's consultations, Albertans expressed their frustrations with the RCMP. Many argued that the force is overly bureaucratic, with a limited connection to the province. Recent controversies, including protests in solidarity with the Wet'suwet'en blockade, witnessed an inability or unwillingness to confront activists. Not to mention, their heavy-handed enforcement of gun laws that angered law-abiding gun owners across the province, in light of the widely disliked Order-in-Council.

In response, the panel recommended that Alberta's government consider replacing the RCMP with a provincial police service and that the premier intends to pursue, pending a detailed study that could cost taxpayers more than $2-million, with the results expected for April 30, 2021. The provincial police service transition study by PwC Canada, whose policing and justice sector works with law enforcement and justice agencies across Canada and globally, will allow the government to decide whether a dedicated provincial police service is in Albertans' best interests. The study will also consider operational requirements, processes and potential costs for creating a provincial police service.

Alberta's Justice Minister and Solicitor General commented further on the possibility of a provincial police force, stating, "Through the Fair Deal Panel, Albertans policed by the RCMP told their government that they want a provincial police service. Alberta's government has an obligation to listen to those concerns and explore how a police force designed in Alberta – not Ottawa – would improve the safety and security of Albertans and their property."

According to a June poll by the renowned pollster, Janet Brown, support for a provincial police force stood at 31 percent in Alberta. However, that has not wavered the provincial government's pursuit of whether this policy recommendation was worthwhile.

"Alberta's government must make an informed choice, and this report will bring us one step closer to the panel's recommendation," says Madu. "After a federal throne speech that ignored nearly all the legitimate concerns of Albertans, this an important part of getting a fair deal for Alberta, while limiting Ottawa's reach into the province."

On the effects of rising crime in rural locales, Madu states, “This is a huge concern for our residents." The concerns of rural constituents primarily stem from response time for law enforcement, who are calling for a "police force that knows their environment, knows their communities, and know their people," according to Madu.

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