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RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson speaks to The Globe and Mail editorial board, Dec. 19, 2011. (Moe Doiron/The Globe and Mail/Moe Doiron/The Globe and Mail)
RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson speaks to The Globe and Mail editorial board, Dec. 19, 2011. (Moe Doiron/The Globe and Mail/Moe Doiron/The Globe and Mail)

At the editorial board

RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson at the editorial board Add to ...

If we get to a reasonable and probable grounds for belief, we’re entitled to charge people. Then the Crown would take it on and say, meh, it doesn’t meet our charge approval threshold, there is no reasonable prospect for conviction – so we’re not going to charge them.

I think those two decisions have to be separate. Because of the precharge approval process, they’ve kind of gone over to the Crown’s area excessively, and lessened the responsibility and expectations of us, the police, to hold up our end of the equation.

There’s a number of cases that are outstanding for charge consideration across Canada in the areas and jurisdictions where the precharge approval exists. I’m not pointing the finger at the Crown.

I just have a strongly held view because I came up in an era where I was accountable for my cases. I came to understand that it was very important that I had my evidence right, my facts correct, and my case unassailable. But now it’s kind of like throwing it into a big sausage factory ...

Q. What’s the plan to fix the RCMP?

I can’t do it by myself. I continue to have very direct and pointed conversations with my command staff about how we radiate out a new view to how we do our business. I think that’s important.

We practise and deliver a process for instilling accountability from the front-line officer to the Commissioner for everything that we do.

We do our core business well. We’re responsive to criticism. We’re demonstrative of our successes.

One of the guys from B.C. who worked on the [Robert]Pickton case wrote me an email. He was a guy I knew fairly well. You know, “Congratulations Bob on becoming Commissioner, here’s what you have got to fix Get out front and defend us....” He’s outraged that I’m not out there fighting and defending the organization.

What I’m saying to folks is that I’m not a salesman. We have to demonstrate through actions that we’ve changed. If we don’t do that, we will have failed.

I tell you, one day, there is going to be the removal of the Stetson if we don’t get this straight. We’ve got to get onto this. This is urgent.

Q. Is the RCMP too complex an organization?

We do a lot of things. The challenges it seems are having the right people in charge of the right piece.

When I was deputy of federal police, we were getting beat up on IMETs [Integrated Market Enforcement Teams]all the time. We don’t own the whole thing. A lot of things are getting sorted out through the regulator process through fines and agreements and so on. Some of the stuff that comes out of those decisions and meetings, or failures to solve them, end up on our plate. And they say, ‘Solve them, why can’t you guys solve them?’ We sit around waiting for people to throw us bones out of the regulatory bodies. And we’re not being police officers. When you’re a police officer, you go to the area where the crime is happening, you scan it, you see who is doing it, and you get in there. You talk to humans, you recruit sources, you do undercover operations, and you get evidence in the near term, and you bring it to court.

If you wheel up with a semi-trailer in front of the Bank of Nova Scotia building and take all their documents, you’re going to be a few years trying to sort that all out.

It’s just the wrong strategy.

Q. Do legal changes need to be made?

There probably are things that could get done, but I say before we start taking a position to go chase down new laws and approaches, let’s make sure our house is in order. Let’s try.

And we’re doing that with some degree of success. We’ve had some success in some of these foreign corruption cases, because they’re going for the heart.

They need to have fangs out. They need to be hungry. They need to be educated.

Q. You said an extraordinary thing, where you think the Stetson could be taken away. How long do you give the force to come to grips?

I don’t think I could hang a time on it. But I could say – maybe one or two more earth-shattering heartbreaks and I think people are people are going to be looking for a different outcome.

All I want people in the RCMP to understand is that it’s urgent – it’s not a PR [public relations]matter.

This interview has been condensed and edited.

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