New Commissioner a symbol of Identity politics…

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:

a) Female?

b) Female?

c) Indigenous? Or do you at least have friends that are Indigenous?

d) Female?

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

 

30 thoughts on “New Commissioner a symbol of Identity politics…

    1. I’d be curious as to how many people know about all the money that was “loaned” to a certain police association composed of former SRR from the MPLF which is run by a former assistant commissioner. Did RCMP management buy the future union?

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  1. This article was very well written and I’ve forwarded to my retired troop mates of Troop No. 1 of 1961 vintage. I wrote a letter to.our PM and to the Attorney General with a copy to Comm’r Paulson suggesting the RCMP be abandoned as any tradition the NWMP created has long been sewered.and stated the Force has become politicized including our Supreme Court suggesting the Duffy case who to an investigative such as he, said the rules were unclear. I suggested the rule book was printed many years ago. It’s called the Criminal Code of Canada. The indigenous AG
    returned a reply a couple of months later saying the letter was forwarded to Mr. Goodall for his remarks. Thanks again for you good article.
    G.B Cull Reg’t #
    21704
    Retired RCMP

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  2. Pete: Former Commissioner Bev Busson was never CO “Depot” Division. Bev was CO “F” Division as well as CO Pacific which includes “E” Division and “M” Division. Bev’s career in the Force was very diversified and highly regarded by the Members. It was her choice to serve as “interim” Commissioner.
    Dennis V Isfeld

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    1. Hi Dennis, I stand corrected..thanks for your comment. I worked with Bev in the 1980’s, and she was very well liked personally throughout her career. The article was about the constant movement, with promotion and transfer, does not make for continuity or any lasting impact. And through no fault of her own, Bev’s career was a shining example of that policy. I don’t think I implied there was anything wrong with being “interim” commissioner. Thanks for reading. Pete

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      1. What you did imply was that her movement in her career would have made her ill equipped to deal with issues at hand given shortened lengths of time in places of work. Your oversight is the person themself. When looking for someone to take the job as Comissioner you need them to have experience, but on top of that they have to have inherent leadership qualities. They have to ask the “right questions” and not presume they know the answers. It takes a team to lead the RCMP in the right direction and a leader to listen and advance the team in the direction beneficial to the force and it’s people. Here you have two women who are about the membership. Bev was and Brenda will be. That’s what made Bev great, not that she knew everything, but that she knew how to listen, and how to bring people together under a common understanding or cause, and that she cared about her people. I’m sure Brenda has a commonality there. At the end of the day, male or female, whoever takes the job has an uphill battle to climb, but if they have these qualities it’s a start. The RCMP cannot avoid that the Priminister picked the candidate, or that the treasury board withholds funding, but we can decide to support the new commissioner for the attributes that did land her the job. Thanks for listening.

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  3. She can’t do any worse than her male predecessors. I am a retired female member who saw many good women passed over for promotion time and time again, particularly in K Div. where I served. I’m sorry you are against Asst. Commissioner Lucki’s appointment but we all knew it was coming. It is a thankless job and if she is smart she should surround herself with members from her troop and the members she worked with out in field. They will give her guidance and speak the truth.
    As to solving all the problems that exist in today’s Force, that ain’t going to happen. Too much dirt to be shoveled out. But give her a chance to get a few good shovels out and set the right tone for the next.
    You know when I joined the Force 38 years ago we were told that before we retired the Force will have gotten out of provincial and municipal policing, that the RCMP would be more like the FBI. Made sense then, still makes sense. As long as we are governed from Ottawa, real police work will not be supported, there will be no real engagement with the Members or the communities they serve because it all comes down to money and power. God bless Brenda Lucki. She is in my estimation one brave woman to take on this massive challenge. She could have said no, but she didn’t.

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    1. Hi Patricia,
      Thank you for your comments, but I will disagree as I am never been a firm believer in wishing someone “can’t do worse than her predecessors”, although you may be right, it is really not a high bar you set. I too remember the claim that we were heading to be like the FBI, and what may push it over the edge this time, will be unionization.
      I worked in three Divisions and when it came to female promotions, my experience was actually quite the opposite, although I don’t doubt what you are saying. I just hope that some day the best “person” is selected and not one that is picked because of gender. I wish her luck too, but I just don’t have the same expectations that you have. Thanks for reading. Pete

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  4. Peter, Kudo’s to a very well written and accurate summation. I weep for what has become of our country and the RCMP. The RCMP today is simply the canary in the coal mine of what happens when diversity rather than outcomes becomes the policy of Government. There is nothing wrong with diversity… but outward manifestations of diversity based on language, ethnicity, sexual preferences, etc is not the same as diversity of experience and competency. Unfortunately, Canada seems to have chosen superficiality over substance and there will be price to pay at some point for the coming train wreck, as clearly the RCMP and our country has been on the wrong track for quite some time. Thanks for ringing the alarm bell! Cheers, Bill

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  5. I think that your article on the current state of the RCMP is right on.
    There is no leadership in the RCMP. It’s been designed that way for many years now.
    Thank you for sharing your views.

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  6. I appreciate your article Peter – very enlightening. I had faith in McKenna appointing a more police experienced board. We can only wish Commissioner LUCKI good luck with a big challenge.
    When you don’t promote on “merit” it will come back to bite you big time as I feel has been the case with the Force for years. I also feel it has resulted in the serious problems within the Force today. Promote your best people and you get best results.
    “Photo Op. Trudeau took another opportunity for an interesting “backdrop”. I only hope the young members weren’t waiting to long for him to arrive and make his speech.
    It appears Minister Goodale has done very little in support of the Force and as an example failed to speak up for private members Bill S-217 (Wynn’s Law) which was defeated in the Commons. Just one example. You seldom if ever see or hear him expounding on the good work of the Force.
    Thank-you for your thoughts and putting them in writing.

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  7. In my service I have seen too many instances of female members getting promoted over male members who solved more B&E’s, sexual assault cases and major thefts etc… than many female members who got promoted solved. Now these female members are supervising these male members. If a female deserves a promotion based on performance then so be it. I support that. But to promote anyone based on their gender, ethnicity or their mother tongue seems to be in vogue today and has been for about 30 years. It is to the detriment of the Force. When I think of the dozens of male members who were effective policemen and got left behind I see nothing other than the further demise of a once proud and dedicated organization. I’m so grateful that I cut my teeth with men who joined the Force in the late 40’s and throughout the 50’s and 60’s. There was no overtime then and we went about our tasks without grumbling. We got on with the job and celebrated a successful investigation with a case of beer in the basement of the detachement. Esprit de Corps was alive and well then – not just a catch phrase as it is today. It is now politically incorrect to have a beer or whatever with the boys after work in the detachement. So something tangible was lost and never to return. It was those times and circumstances that brought the Force its reputation which is now being destroyed. I’m happy to be able to say I was part of that.

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    1. I agree with your perception of what has and is happening within the Force. I completed training in the mid sixties but didn’t stay with the Force, so don’t have much experience but only an idiot would not be able to recognize what has happened in recent year. Too much government intervention has caused many of these current issues. Good luck getting your message out .

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  8. I am living in the town where I retired after serving 5 years here as the NCOi/c. Our town has a contract for two members and it is one of the more expensive items in its budget. Nonetheless the Force needs to upgrade its pay scale to forestall member leaving to join other municipal forces where the is better pay and no transfers, etc, etc. Ottawa needs to support a better rate of pay because the smaller municipalities can’t afford the RCMP much more. That or get out of contract policing all together, which would be too bad because in street policing members get to rub shoulders with a lot of nice people and a small percentage of the other kind. As a retired member about all I can do is cross my fingers and hope for the best.

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  9. AH yes the FBI envy – many want the RCMP to get out of the type of policing that created them in the first place. It was 1920 that the RNWMP merged with the Dominion Police, whose claim to fame seemed to be providing security on Parliament Hill. So for those that advocate for a federal police monoculture – the RCMP will be reduced in size significantly. After all as provincial police 20% of the cost is paid for doing federal policing – let the new provincial police do it and you virtually eliminate the need for the RCMP altogether. After all the feds have refused to pay their share of federal policing done by the big city municipalities and provincial police. Drugs, immigration, parolee’s, wildlife enforcement (Migratory Birds Act) etc has been slowly taken over from the RCMP by those agencies. Add to that the RCMP failed miserably at their mandates and the government has created new agencies or Departments that took over their own enforcement functions – such as Canada Border Services, External Affairs, Bankruptcy Superintendent, Communications, and Competition Bureau. What will the federal RCMP do but for the National Security mandate, Weights and Measures Act (oh sorry rolling back odometers now is done by self regulatory agencies and falls under fraud by the police) and ?? So the RCMP would also have to give up the Territorial Policing? Of course there is VIP policing and PM Security Detail. All in all – a job for a couple of thousand employees. Probably most would be in Ottawa in Administration. The new Commissioner IMHO was selected not on merit, but on politics and the ability to be a yes person to the government – that is the way for most of the Commissioners since the last one stood up on principal and quit when he stood up to the government in the interest of the members (oh sorry they are employees now)

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  10. Interesting article, I agree with some of it and not with other parts.

    Its absolutely true that the promotion process is an abomination, and that upper management succeeded in it and sees no fault in it. There’s also a huge lack of new ideas, and ability to keep up with the times, in the RCMP.

    And yes, there’s a yes-man culture. But, that culture comes from, and demanded by, politicians. The politicians will not put someone in who will rock the boat or even tell the truth about how bad the situation is. They only want someone who will dutifully answer to them and hide the dirty laundry. You can clean out the upper ranks, but they’ll just be replaced by more of the same.

    I also have serious doubts about the ability of any commissioner to have any meaningful impact on the RCMP. The biggest issue facing the RCMP right now is the lack of pay and the lack of resources versus mandate. Paulson sounded the alarm on this and was completely ignore by two different prime minister’s, as it didn’t fit their political agenda.

    The commissioner is the theoretical head, but in reality the RCMP is controlled in inumerable other ways. The treasury board holds all the money. Procurement and property management policies, Shared Services, hiring quotas, etc. are all required of the RCMP, yet all exist to serve the needs of themselves or someone else, not the RCMPs. Politicians from 8 provinces and innumerable municipalities all have a stake in finances, policies, and promotions.

    There’s not much left for the commissioner to do but stand up and tell everyone how great everything is to please hundreds of politicians who need that to happen.

    Far more than any RCMP manager, the current situation has politicians to blame, and only politicians can fix it, if they ever can recognize their toxic effect and pull back and let the RCMP run itself for once.

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  11. I have one piece of advice for our new Commissioner: Drain The Swamp !

    The A/Comms and their Klingons who were passed over for the job are laying in wait just like the alligators who wait for the yearly migration of the Serengeti wildebeest. These spineless creatures who inhabit the hallowed halls of HQ’s will drag you under and slowly tear you to shreds.

    Enjoy

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  12. Very very detailed insightful article, capturing virtually all the negative dynamics impacting on our federal force. Our only remote hope will be that Trudeau might see it and heed it. Sadly, he is so up to his ass in alligators that saving the RCMP will not rank high in his list of “to do” things. Not one person in power in Ottawa either has taken the time to understand the pathology taking place in the Force, or chooses to ignore it. As a second generation member with a son in the Force, my heart is broken.

    Ian Parsons
    Author: “No Easy Ride”

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