When I sit around with current and former RCMP officers there is a lot of shaking of heads in terms of where the RCMP finds itself now; buried in sexual harassment cases, about to face unionization, and about to have to deal with a possible civilian oversight group.
Operational problems are around every corner, whether it be the lack of policing in rural communities, a completely failed promotion system, mounting PTSD complaints, mounting use of force issues, and the likely partitioning of the RCMP. All major issues, all daunting to say the least.
So it was baited breath that the members of the RCMP waited an eight month screening process taken on by ten committee members. Thats right. Ten. These ten were to oversee a selection process, all living on expenses, and I am guessing pretty substantial hourly rates to complete what must have been a more complex task than I imagined.
The Committee was headed by former Liberal Premier and Ambassador to the United States, Frank McKenna. The rest of the committee was comprised of six women and three men, and a job description mandate which included ” having to demonstrate their knowledge of Canada’s indigenous culture and a sensitivity to the issues relevant to the diversity of the Canadian population”.
You will notice a bit of a theme with the Committee members.
Devon Clunis, former Winnipeg Police Chief and the first black police chief in Canada. He was known for dealing with the race issues in Winnipeg, but retired somewhat suddenly just before a police budget came down which included tripling of the promised police budget, and an RCMP investigation into a companies billings for the building of the new police office.
Malcolm Brown , the Deputy of Public Safety who would report to Ralph Goodale.
Daniel Jean, the National Security Advisor to Justin Trudeau, who has now gained notoriety as the fellow who came up with the Indian government conspiracy theory to cover Justin Trudeau’s dinner guest Mr. Atwal. It was a ridiculous slander on the Indian government which they had to apologize for and likely the end of his high flying career. He had no previous experience in Security and Intelligence before taking this job.
Barbara Byers, with the Canadian Labour Congress who specialized in issues such as the LGBT community.
Manuelle Oudar, the CEO of Canada Workplace Standards and Health and Safety.
Marianne Ryan, former Deputy Commissioner of the RCMP in Alberta, and now the Alberta Ombudsman.
Bev Busson, former interim Commissioner of the RCMP, and the first female Commissioner of the Force
Tammy Cook-Searson the elected Chief of the Lac La Ronge First Nation.
It is not difficult to guess, once you see this list as to what the tone and tenor of the selection process would be; clearly a woman, and clearly someone with an understanding or connection to Indigenous issues, or sympathetic to the causes of diversity and inclusion.
So after nine months, lo and behold there were four in the running; three women and one man (the male no doubt thrown in there to avoid any charges of being slanted in their decisions.) Statistically women represent 21.6 of the RCMP, but in this final selected group, they made up 75% of the candidates.
The other candidates were: A/Commissioner Joanne Crampton, A/Commissioner Jennifer Strachan, and Deputy Commissioner Kevin Brouseau.
And the winner and the “absolute best” person according to Justin Trudeau was Assistant Commissioner Brenda Lucki.
Now if they knew they were going to select a female from the RCMP, then I could have saved this committee a lot of work. Just open the internal phone list and look for any female officer above the rank of Superintendent. There aren’t many. I could have come up with this list in a couple of minutes. Now, if you tell me that they must have some sort of Indigenous acceptability, a second screening would have also quickly found Ms. Lucki who received recognition for her work on aboriginal rights. In other words I could have saved them a lot of meetings and expense.
Ms. Lucki, who joined the RCMP in 1986 has had a varied 31 year career, serving in Saskatchewan, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec and then with the U.N in Yugoslavia. She is most recently in charge of Depot Division, the training facility, a former posting of Bev Busson as well, before she became Commissioner.
At first glance it seems impressive but there are a couple of things you need to keep in mind. Every promotion for the most part in the RCMP means that you change jobs, you have to move, regardless. So someone like Ms. Lucki, was promoted seven times in 31 years, serving in a lot of different Provinces, did not land in a place for any length of time. Take off a couple of years while with the U.N. and it measures out to a move every 3-4 years. During that time, she may have had oversight on a couple of hundred officers at any one time. She is now being asked to oversee a vast bureaucracy, over 28,000 personnel, with a budget of over $2.7 billion.
So what put Ms Lucki ahead of every once else? Her resume is almost bland and typical of all white-shirted officers within the RCMP. Constant movement in the promotion process also means that she was not in any one place for any significant period of time, therefore with little time to have any substantial impact. (Bev Busson also suffered from this dilemma leading up to her being made interim Commissioner.)
There is little which points to accomplishments within the RCMP with the exception of the Jubilee award which were given out like candy, and were internally generated. There is repeated mention of the Governor Generals Order of Merit of the Police Forces and her role with the Indigenous. This too is an internally generated nomination, about fifteen a year get nominated by the Chiefs of Police and almost all nominees are officers as well. There is no evidence or hard factual detail as to what this entailed or what she did to deserve this recognition. These nominations are often part of the upper management Ottawa game in the RCMP of self – promotion.
There are reports that the committee approached Deputy Commissioner Butterworth-Carr who it is said turned the job down more than once. Butterworth-Carr is a rank above Ms. Lucki and is First Nation from the Tr’ondek Huech’in Han Nation of the Yukon. She also had the Queen and Golden Jubilee Medals, and the Order of Merit of the Police Forces for her proactive work. There are a lot of similarities with Ms. Lucki, such as her short length of service in a number of locations in the West.
The RCMP is in serious jeopardy as an organization. The problems seem stifling and the threads of the organization are being pulled and torn in every direction. This has been the result of mis-management at the upper levels over the last fifteen to twenty years. There can be no doubt about that. The question in the interview should not have been what can you do for this organization in the future, the question should have been what have you done in the past?
Upper management in the RCMP is known as the “go along to get along crowd” with never a dissenting opinion or a willingness to take a principled stand. Should they be held accountable for this mess, of course. Are they being held accountable, of course not; it is after all government. The upper management of the RCMP are for the most part a self-perpetuating incestuous group, and they should all be given pink slips along with a “thank you for your service” as they are escorted out the door. The roots of this organization are rotting, and the various limbs need pruning so they can grow again. This is not going to be easy.
Ms. Lucki as nice, as personal, and smart as she may be; she was and is part of the problem, not a part of the solution. Shockingly, the Liberals after all this went with someone inside this same dysfunctional and management challenged organization. Being female does not exonerate her from management actions of the past. She was part of that management.
Do we really care whether the selected candidate was male or female? Whether your skin is black, white, green, or orange is not a factor. Facing a complicated issue with civilian oversight on the horizon and the disappearance of the administrative side of the Force, one would have thought they would have been looking for someone with a strong administrative or legal background, or a hands on operational background, or at least a familiarity of unionization and all that it entails. Mr. Trudeau assured us that there were “many extraordinary candidates”. Maybe a Masters in Business Administration, or a speciality in Labour Economics? Were there none out there? Did none apply? Was a candidate with a Bachelor of Arts the height of the academic qualifications? Even the male on the selected group of candidates has a Master of Laws from Harvard, is Metis, but he did not have a chance. “He” being the operative pronoun. Clearly indigenous and being a woman were the heavily weighted determinants of their choice, and merit was a very distant third or fourth.
Trudeau’s classified questionnaire must have been multiple choice, no right answer, as decisiveness is not a pre-requisite; It must have read, Are you:
c) Indigenous? Or do you at least have friends that are Indigenous?
e) Do you like me and agree with everything I say?
Self-declared feminist Trudeau was using his usual clipboard check list selection process, just like his selections to Cabinet.
This country is becoming dangerously polarized, and now the politicalization of the RCMP has reached a precipitous level as well. Trudeau from the left is very similar to Trump on the right, he does not seem to recognize the problems of political interference, the danger of slanting the law and investigations to favour a special interest group.
When you Google check Ms. Lucki, you find video of her participating in the Depot “dunk tank”. Well, new Commissioner Lucki you are about to be thrown in the deep-end once again.
This time the results could have dire consequences for those on the front lines of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and maybe the very survival of this historic institution. In her speech she said that she is going to ask “all the right questions”. Doesn’t she know what the problems are at this stage?
What is really needed is someone with answers, someone with a vision and someone with the audacity and authority to do what is right. Rome is burning, we do not need another fiddler.
But good luck to you Ms. Lucki, and I am keeping my fingers crossed that you prove me completely wrong.
I will go back now, to my coffee klatch of the disenchanted, and we will see what they think of Mr.Trudeaus choice, whether they think she will be the next saviour of this once proud organization, and whether positive change is around the corner.
I will withhold my prediction for now, but all should be prepared to hear “diversity” and “inclusion”, as much as we hear Trudeau say “going forward” “working with our partners” and “women”. Hopefully, the two officers that awkwardly fainted during your speech did not have a premonition as to what is to come.
And to this “select committee” of advantaged bureaucrats. Please call me next time, I could have saved you a lot of time and the taxpayer a lot of money.
After all we will be meeting again in four years.
Photo Courtesy of the CBC and may be subject to copyright