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RCMP headquarters in Ottawa. (Dave Chan for The Globe and Mail)
RCMP headquarters in Ottawa. (Dave Chan for The Globe and Mail)

Mounties must modernize, Ottawa told Add to ...

The RCMP has lived too long in the past and must now open up to the public and bring on a new type of leadership to earn back the trust and respect of Canadians, a government-appointed panel is recommending.

In its fifth and final report, the RCMP Reform Implementation Council criticized the national police force for failing to keep up with the times, saying that its institutional culture had "evolved remarkably slowly."

The council called on the Harper government to create an RCMP management board that would "serve as a check on decision-making at the highest levels" in the force, particularly to ensure a steady pace of reform and change. The report said that the new body would allow the RCMP to deal with internal tensions, such as the conflict between senior officers and Commissioner William Elliott that erupted into public view last summer.

"The difficulties encountered by the senior leadership of the RCMP in recent months make us all the more convinced of the need for such a mechanism - an independent body that works in good faith to push, prod and challenge the Force constructively towards excellence in leadership and management in a spirit of continuous improvement," the report said.

The Reform Implementation Council was created by the Harper government after the RCMP was engulfed in 2006 in a scandal related to the mismanagement of the force's pension plan. The force was hit by subsequent controversies, including the taser death of a Polish traveller at the Vancouver airport in 2007.

In its report, the council called on the RCMP to open up to the public and provide more information to Canadians when it encounters difficulties.

"Our bottom line is that the RCMP must be as open and transparent as possible in dealing with its own employees and with the public. This is another touchstone for testing the success of reform and for recognizing an organization that is striving always to be better. The Force must aim higher in this area," the report said.

The report also said the RCMP cannot base its promotion system entirely on the policing expertise of its officers, but also take management skills into consideration.

"Selection and development of supervisors, managers and executives must focus on meeting the needs of the organization, rather than on rewarding performance in other areas, vital as those areas may be," the report said.

The Harper government said it will study the report, including the call for the creation of a board of management.

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