Provincial force may be cheaper than RCMP: Clark
B.C. Premier Christy Clark seems to be calling Ottawa's bluff, making it clear that her government is bracing for the possibility of a provincial police force in the absence of a new contract with the RCMP.
The feds have given B.C. until the end of November to sign a new 20-year deal on policing in the province, threatening to pull out all RCMP services in 2014 if that doesn't happen.
Clark says that she would prefer to see the Mounties stay, but she would be open to an alternative.
"Our assessment is that having our own provincial police force could be cheaper than the deal that's on the table," she told reporters Friday.
B.C. taxpayers pick up 90 per cent of the RCMP's budget, but communities served by the Mounties have no say over how they spend their money. Clark says that's unacceptable.
"There are a lot of unpredictable elements in that, and I don't think that level of unpredictability can give taxpayers any sense of stability," she said.
Some local politicians have firsthand experience with the frustration of having no input into the Mounties' operations.
When Langley Mayor Peter Fassbender wanted to put cameras inside RCMP cruisers in his city, an increasingly common practice across the country, he was shot down by headquarters in Ottawa.
"I have no idea why they didn't [approve it]," he said.
Local politicians at the annual meeting of the Union of B.C. Municipalities called on senior B.C. federal minister James Moore Friday to get his government back to the bargaining table and open to the idea of change.
But Moore insists that nobody from B.C. has formally asked for municipal cost control.
"If a specific proposal is brought forward with that kind of formula we will gladly look at it. That kind of a proposal has not come forward," he told reporters at the meeting.
Fassbender says that's simply not true.
"I've sat at every negotiating session for the last year and a bit, and it's very clear that the issues and the proposals have been put on the table," he said.
The current contract between the provincial and federal governments concerning the Mounties expires on March 31.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Rob Brown