|Print Version||Public Policy|
I’ve been waiting for RCMP Chief Commissioner Paulson to assert his independence from political interference. When he told Senator Kenny he could not meet without ministerial permission, I thought perhaps he’d misunderstood the policy. Not so. Yesterday, at a Commons committee meeting he declared he agreed with the rule imposed by Minister Toews, although he still didn’t appear to have a very clear idea of what the rule is.
Now, I’m concerned. The Chief Commissioner should have absolute discretion to meet with whomever he chooses. By the same token, we as citizens and parliamentarians should be able to trust in his discretion, as well as his acumen, to conduct his meetings appropriately. If something arises in the course of his meetings that he feels the Minister should know, of course he should share that information, particularly if the Minister is likely to be asked questions about whatever issue is under discussion. But he should not need permission to meet anyone, for any reason, and he should not be required to include other participants according to ministerial dictates.
Mr. Paulson’s difficulty seems to centre on the meaning of ‘political’. He correctly stated that it is not his role to comment “publicly on legislation or matters of the government.” However, he has complete responsibility for running the RCMP which is not, and should not be, a political issue. As such, he should be fully free to choose with whom he meets, including parliamentarians.
Mr. Toews, on the other hand, obviously assumes that all parliamentarians would automatically talk about the government and its ministers (i.e., politics) rather than issues and policies within the purview of the RCMP Commissioner’s remit. That attitude reflects more on his own world view than on reality. Moreover, it simply reinforces what we’ve come to expect from Conservative cabinet ministers who routinely interpret everything in the light of their partisan interests.
But we had hoped for more from the new RCMP Commissioner. We had high expectations that he would vigorously defend the integrity and independence of his Force. Unfortunately, in this instance, he has failed.
Posted On Feb 07 02:17PM
I find it bizarre that the commissionner could not meet with whomever he pleases. I think that is an important part of his job. For example, if a Senator or Member of Parliament was concerned about a high level police issue that involves a minister, then a meeting with Mr. Paulson without any political interference would seem to be appropriate. Similarly, he should be free not to meet with whomever he wishes. If he thinks Colin Kenny is an old windbag he should refuse the meeting even if Kenny is a Senator. It should be his choice and his choice as to whether or not he wishes to inform Mr. Toews about it. But, in the era of the politics of control, I am surprised that Mr. Toews does not tell him what kind of suit to wear each day which is pretty scary considering who Mr. Toews is. I have not seen a blog on the comments by that Conservative senator about giving prisoner's a rope to hang themselves with. I would love to blog on that one.