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Editorial: Province needs to listen on policing

opinion editorial stock

If the addition of a provincial police force will actually be a cost-cutting measure that will better serve communities then the onus is on the Province to unequivocally show that’s going to be the case.

Given the political climate and the Hudson’s Bay sized divide between the Alberta government and their Trudeau led federal counterparts, it’s difficult not to view this initiative in part as an attempt to play politics.

If it’s more than that and there is genuine benefit to come from this change, it’s reasonable to think most Albertans would welcome a shift from the RCMP to a provincial police force.

Minister of Justice and Solicitor General Kaycee Madu stated at his Oct. 28 press conference, outlining the case for a provincial police force, that a year-long consultation process will be held. As part of the report is the proposal for a six-year transition from RCMP services to a provincial police force.

Other stakeholders need to be kept in the loop as much as possible.

Okotoks Mayor Tanya Thorn has been vocal in her criticism, with funding, staffing and her perception of consultation with a predetermined outcome as stated issues.

Foothills County Coun. Suzanne Oel, who’s also the High Country Rural Crime Watch volunteer president, also questioned the plan, but noted there is some concern about the potential for a federal government plan to withdraw RCMP services from municipalities.

The cost of policing and rural crime is an ongoing concern for the County, Oel added.

However, the cost of a provincial police service is the biggest gap in the conversation. Madu did not respond when asked several times about how the Province can make up $160 million in federal funding for RCMP. 

Many municipalities have responded that a provincial police force is not something they have asked for or were looking for. When Madu was in the foothills this summer meeting with residents about rural crime, an Alberta solution for policing was an issue only he raised. 

So the biggest question over the next year will be is the Province ready to start listening.