The RCMP musical ride performing in Surrey in February 2010.

The RCMP musical ride performing in Surrey in February 2010.

B.C. close to deal to keep RCMP

Negotiators for provinces to recommend new policing contract

B.C. now appears close to inking a new 20-year policing contract with the RCMP.

Negotiations in Ottawa ended last week with an apparent tentative agreement that could keep the Mounties as the police force for most B.C. cities.

Solicitor General Shirley Bond stressed no final decisions have been made, describing it as a large, complicated contract and noting some of her counterparts in other provinces may not yet be briefed.

“We’ve certainly made progress,” she said Monday. “Each individual jurisdiction needs to deal with the information that’s been provided.”

Bond wouldn’t call it a tentative agreement and when asked why not said she doesn’t want to get caught up in semantics.

“I’ve not made a decision yet regarding the discussion that has taken place,” she said, adding more technical work is required.

To meet an end-of-November deadline imposed by Ottawa, the deputy ministers leading the talks for each province or territory are to confirm by Wednesday they will recommend the agreement to their respective ministers and cabinets.

No details have been released on the potential new contract.

“I’m not going to presume anything about what the province is going to do with the report they get from their deputy,” said Langley City Mayor Peter Fassbender, the municipal observer in the talks. “Until it goes through the process, we don’t know whether we have a deal.”

Final decisions to sign would still be up to each provincial cabinet, he said, and promised city councils in RCMP-policed cities will get detailed briefings as soon as possible.

Fassbender said the recent talks have been “productive” and said federal officials have become more willing to address municipal concerns.

“Everybody came to the table with a desire to find the best for both Canada and the provinces and territories,” he said.

Cities had demanded greater control over how the RCMP are managed, particularly in the containment of costs and greater transparency and accountability.

Federal officials in September told B.C. to sign the new RCMP contract by the end of November or they’d begin withdrawing the Mounties in 2014.

That ultimatum prompted Bond to begin considering the launch of a replacement provincial force, if necessary.

Any new contract would still have opt-out clauses under which any city can form its own municipal force or the province could end the RCMP contract and form a provincial force.

The deal is not expected to change the current cost-sharing formula, which sees large cities pay 90 per cent of local RCMP costs, while smaller ones pay 70 per cent.

A new contract management committee to address local concerns on an ongoing basis is among the new components of the contract.

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