Skip to main content

RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki reads a document as she appears as a witness at the Public Order Emergency Commission, on Nov. 15.Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has rejected a call from the Alberta government to fire RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki, but his Public Safety Minister declined to say whether Ottawa would reappoint her to a second term as head of the federal police force.

Alberta Justice Minister Tyler Shandro issued a statement Wednesday, saying the province has “lost confidence” in Commissioner Lucki, pointing to a series of controversies involving February’s truck convoy protests, Nova Scotia’s mass shooting in 2020 and her efforts to confront systemic racism within the Mounties.

“Over the past two years, Commissioner Lucki has failed to deal with the RCMP’s history of systemic racism in a forthright and public manner, and has risked the integrity of an investigation into a mass shooting,” Mr. Shandro said. “Further, as revealed last week, she failed to inform the federal cabinet of all law-enforcement options available prior to the decision to invoke the Emergencies Act.”

Mr. Shandro urged Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino and the government to “immediately rescind Commissioner Lucki’s appointment.”

Mr. Mendicino told reporters that Ottawa has “confidence in Commissioner Lucki” but declined to say if she would be reappointed when her five-year term ends next March. “There will be obviously a discussion with the Commissioner as her current defined term comes to its natural conclusion. And we’ll see where that takes us,” he said.

The Prime Minister, who named Commissioner Lucki as the country’s first permanent female commissioner in 2018, said Wednesday: “We’re going to continue to work with the Commissioner on keeping Canadians safe.”

Although Mr. Trudeau has not made a decision on whether to reappoint Commissioner Lucki, three senior government officials told The Globe and Mail last week that the federal cabinet is dissatisfied with her stewardship of the RCMP.

They point to what they call her poor communication skills and the mishandling of major files. The Globe is not identifying the officials who were not authorized to publicly discuss the government’s view of the Commissioner’s performance.

Commissioner Lucki said in a statement to The Globe Wednesday evening that she will not resign.

“In 2018, I was given a strong mandate. I remain fully committed to leading the RCMP to be the modern, inclusive and healthy organization that our employees and all residents of Canada expect of us,” she said.

The federal Conservative Party says it, too, has lost confidence in the top Mountie.

“We need first and foremost an RCMP commissioner that has the confidence to effectively do her job and I don’t feel she has done that.” Conservative public safety critic Raquel Dancho said.

Commissioner Lucki’s conduct has been raised at both the mass-shooting inquiry and the federal inquiry under way in Ottawa, where Justice Paul Rouleau is reviewing Ottawa’s unprecedented decision to invoke the Emergencies Act to end a rash of protests and blockades against pandemic measures.

During testimony at the Emergencies Act inquiry last week, Commissioner Lucki couldn’t recall key meetings during the protests; said she didn’t understand the role the Emergencies Act could play; and was unable to explain comments from meetings and text exchanges in which she participated.

One of the meetings was chaired by the Prime Minister on Feb. 13, the day before the Emergencies Act was invoked. Her prepared notes for that meeting included her assessment that police had “not yet exhausted all available tools” in existing legislation but she never relayed that at the meeting.

The Commissioner was also embroiled in controversy over her handling of the Nova Scotia mass shooting. After the massacre, she was accused by RCMP subordinates in the province of pressing them to release information about the type of weapons used so the information could assist the Liberal government’s gun agenda. When the officers declined, they said she berated them and that Commissioner Lucki said she had promised the Prime Minister’s Office that the information would be released.

The Commissioner later denied that she was under political direction to release firearms information. But, she acknowledged, she felt an imperative to get more information to the public as quickly as possible.

When Commissioner Lucki took over the force in 2018, she pledged to “challenge assumptions” and ensure that “no stone will be left unturned” in dealing with issues of discrimination, sexual harassment and misconduct within the force.

As the Black Lives Matter protests forced a reckoning around the world in 2020, a series of videos appeared to show Mounties using excessive force against Indigenous people, and six Indigenous people were killed by police officers in Winnipeg, New Brunswick and Nunavut in just three months.

At first, Commissioner Lucki disputed the notion that systemic racism exists in her organization and said she was unsure what the expression meant. Days later, she acknowledged “systemic racism is part of every institution, the RCMP included” and vowed to “lead positive change on this critical issue.”

With a report by Marieke Walsh