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Commissioner proposes making RCMP an independent federal agency

RCMP Commissioner William Elliot addresses the Canadian Club in Ottawa on Nov. 25, 2010


RCMP Commissioner William Elliott is embarking on a complex transformation of the national police force that, if successful, will redefine the organization and provide him with a lasting legacy.

Mr. Elliott said in a speech in Ottawa that after more than three years in charge of the RCMP, he supports the transformation of the organization into an independent federal agency with its own board of directors.

The move has been proposed for years by various commissions of inquiry into the RCMP, and was often seen by the force's critics as a way to bring the 137-year-old organization into the 21st century.

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Mr. Elliott has had talks with the Harper government about enacting legislation to provide the RCMP with separate employer status in Ottawa, similar to the Canada Revenue Agency, which would make it more independent of the government than other federal agencies.

As it stands, the RCMP is burdened by federal procurement rules and regulations that add years to acquiring such things as safety equipment for the Mounties. Mr. Elliott said he also would like to reduce the number of categories of workers in the RCMP, and allow middle managers, such as detachment heads, to be eligible for bonuses.

"We are very much different than a regular department of government. I think there is a responsibility on me and other leaders in the RCMP to drive forward changes that will streamline things," he said.

Mr. Elliott laid out his position in a speech to the Canadian Club of Ottawa, saying that the RCMP feels ready to be invested with "the responsibility, authority and flexibility to better manage our financial and human resources."

Mr. Elliott is the first civilian to be in charge of the RCMP. The career bureaucrat has found the Mounties are overburdened by bureaucracy and need to be prodded into becoming a more efficient organization.

"I'm convinced a board of management will really challenge us and push us in the right direction," he told reporters.

Liberal senator Colin Kenny, who has been a frequent critic of Mr. Elliott, said a move to separate-employer status and a board of management would be "positive steps."

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Mr. Kenny added that the move would be a "legacy for Mr. Elliott," particularly if he also manages to obtain new funding for the force.

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About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

Daniel Leblanc studied political science at the University of Ottawa and journalism at Carleton University. He became a full-time reporter in 1998, first at the Ottawa Citizen and then in the Ottawa bureau of The Globe and Mail. More

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