The RCMP say they implemented about 22 recommendations made by the civilian oversight agency in the past fiscal year, but the status of dozens of other recommendations regarding mounted police misconduct is not known.
The Civilian Review and Complaints Commission (CPAB) is called upon hundreds of times a year to investigate public complaints about RCMP activities, ranging from allegations of misconduct to allegations of botched investigations. If the CRCC concludes that a finding of wrongdoing is founded, it can make recommendations to the RCMP, although they are not binding.
Citing a need for more transparency, the national police has started posting the status of some of these recommendations online.
So far, the RCMP has issued 101 recommendations stemming from a dozen different cases reviewed by the CRCC over the past fiscal year. The RCMP claim that approximately 21 percent of these recommendations are “fulfilled”; most of the rest are recorded as “in progress”, while a handful are considered partially completed.
“As part of our commitment to build trust, transparency and accountability, the RCMP provides an overview of all the commitments we have made in response to CRCC recommendations,” the text reads on RCMP Civilian Complaints webpage.
In one case involving a strip search, the RCMP were asked to consider changing RCMP policy regarding what to do with bras and other underwear. This recommendation is marked as “in progress”.
The RCMP itself – not the CRCC – decides whether the recommendations are recorded as complete. The watchdog has in the past objected to its lack of audit powers and its inability to determine whether the RCMP had acted on a complaint.
Most of the CRCC’s recommendations to the RCMP in response to complaints about how mounted police monitored Northern Gateway pipeline protesters in 2012 and 2013 were deemed complete by police.
All of the CRCC’s recommendations from the investigation into the treatment of the death of Colton Boushie – who was shot after he and four other people from Red Pheasant Cree Nation in Saskatchewan visited a farmer’s property near Biggar, Sask., in August 2016 – are still recorded as ongoing, according to the RCMP.
The CRCC concluded that the force racially discriminated against Boushie’s mother during its investigation.
The status of dozens of other recommendations remains unknown. According to its website, the CRCC has written at least 117 final reports on RCMP activities since 2020. These reports covered a wide range of complaints – including allegations of warrantless arrests and mismanaged sexual assaults – and all presented recommendations.
A spokesperson later added that there had been additional recommendations completed in addition to the 22 recommendations completed on the website.
“As part of the phased approach to publication of the implementation of recommendations supported by the Commissioner, the RCMP will regularly update the status of implementation,” said Robin Percival.
“The RCMP is working to complete an update by November 30, 2021.
A spokesperson for the CRCC said the decision to release the reports is positive, but the process still lacks accountability as the agency cannot confirm to what extent the RCMP has actually implemented its recommendations.
“It’s a major flaw”
“The information provided on the RCMP’s Commitments to Responding to Public Complaints’ web page is a step in the right direction,” said CRCC spokesperson Kate McDerby. “However, it does not adequately respond to the CRCC’s call for accountability regarding the status of its recommendations.
“While current legislation requires the RCMP Commissioner to respond to reports and indicate whether recommendations are accepted, the RCMP is not required by law to confirm the extent to which CRCC recommendations have been implemented. . This is a significant gap. “
The president of the CRCC asked the Parliament to modify the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act to include a legal reporting obligation.
The Liberal government has tabled a bill three times to expand the CRCC’s mandate to include border officers, but each attempt failed before Parliament was dissolved.
The latest version of the bill, which the government said would also strengthen the CRCC, was introduced just weeks before the election was called in August.