After nearly five years on the job, RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki is retiring on March 17. Commissioner Lucki, whose five-year term was up for renewal in March, said as recently as November that she would not step aside, despite dissatisfaction from the federal cabinet.
Ms. Lucki joined the RCMP in 1986 at the age of 20 and served in Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta, Saskatchewan and former Yugoslavia. She was a dark horse in the race to become commissioner, following the retirement of her predecessor Bob Paulson. Ms. Lucki won over the 10-member selection committee with her expansive operational experience in her role as the commanding officer of Depot Division in Saskatchewan, where RCMP cadets are trained.
But Ms. Lucki’s tenure as commissioner has been embroiled in controversy, including the RCMP’s handling of the Nova Scotia mass shooting and the convoy protests in Ottawa.
Here’s a timeline of Ms. Lucki’s career as RCMP Commissioner.
2018: RCMP’s first female commissioner
After 32 years in the force, Lucki became RCMP Commissioner in April, 2018, the first woman to hold the post permanently. The Trudeau government directed Lucki to bring widespread change to the organization, which struggled for years to deal with sexual harassment and criticism for its treatment of Indigenous people. Former RCMP officer Catherine Galliford, who settled a sexual-harassment lawsuit with the force in 2016, said the time was ripe for a female commissioner.
2020: Nova Scotia mass shooting
The Commissioner was embroiled in controversy over her handling of the Nova Scotia mass shootings in April, 2020. After the massacre, Nova Scotia Mounties accused Commissioner Lucki of allowing politics to interfere in the criminal investigation when she pressed investigators to release details of the guns used in order to bolster the Liberal government’s gun control legislation. During the public inquiry into the mass shooting, Commissioner Lucki said she wanted those details made public in the interest of transparency, not because of a political agenda.
2020: Systemic racism within the RCMP
In the wake of the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in 2020, which prompted reignited protests against police brutality across the globe, Commissioner Lucki disputed that systemic racism exists within the RCMP, saying “I think that if systemic racism is meaning that racism is entrenched in our policies and procedures, I would say that we don’t have systemic racism.” Days later, she clarified that “systemic racism is part of every institution, the RCMP included” and vowed to “lead positive change on this critical issue.”
2020: Violence against Mi’kmaq fisheries
Commissioner Lucki faced criticism and calls from Indigenous leaders for her resignation over the RCMP’s failure to stop violence and intimidation against Mi’kmaq fisheries. In the fall of 2020, an angry mob attacked storage facilities holding Mi’kmaq lobster catches and set a van on fire. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stood by Commissioner Lucki and said the federal government will keep working with the RCMP to reduce systemic racism in its ranks.
2021: RCMP launches independent body to investigate sexual misconduct
In June, 2021, the RCMP launched the Independent Centre for Harassment Resolution, an independent body that would have the power to investigate sexual misconduct and harassment complaints within the police force. Commissioner Lucki said the RCMP believes the centre “will improve trust and give people the confidence to speak out.”
The centre was created in the aftermath of a report released in 2020 by former Supreme Court justice Michel Bastarache, which found a “toxic” culture within the force that tolerated misogynistic and homophobic attitudes. Mr. Bastarache’s review stemmed from the Merlo Davidson Settlement, which arose from two-class action lawsuits alleging that female members of the RCMP were sexually harassed while working in the force.
2022: Convoy protests and the Emergencies Act inquiry
Commissioner Lucki’s role during the convoy protests was under scrutiny during the Emergencies Act inquiry in November. During her testimony, Commissioner Lucki couldn’t recall key meetings, didn’t understand the role Emergencies Act could play and was unable to explain comments from meetings and her text exchanges.
With reports from Robert Fife, Steven Chase, Greg Mercer, Janice Dickson, Marieke Walsh and Marsha McLeod.
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