There is more than one benefit of the inquiry into the use of the emergencies act by Justice Paul Rouleau. It is showing how antiquated and inefficient our approach to policing is across Canada. I can only speak to the situation in Ontario but I have seen police actions across Canada and in other countries and I have seen nothing that I thought was a better solution. To go around saying, defund the police, is a foolish waste of time. As much as I admire many of those men and women who devote their working life to policing, we need to learn how they can serve us better.
And new thinking about policing in Canada needs to start at the top. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police are an out-of-date anachronism. It is a poorly equipped quasi military force whose costumes are great for citizenship ceremonies and equestrian displays. They are probably more effective when carrying out their national policing responsibilities in mufti.
Policing of the provinces is a different matter. Ontario and Quebec both have overly politicized province-wide forces reporting to their provincial governments. They both seem to lack impartial judicial oversight. To send out young men and women from the RCMP’s Regina training depot to police other provinces is another serious error.
Growing up in Toronto, I saw many sides of Toronto’s municipal police. And it has always struck me that this is the level of policing that raises the more serious problems. I expect that the Toronto police never fell lower in Torontonian’s estimation than during the G-7 in Toronto in 2010. The police services boards are inadequate and are more a system of protecting the police and ensuring adequate budgets, than any level of management. We put a hell of a lot of responsibility on chiefs of police and not enough on the police services boards that hire and fire them.
And as the Rouleau inquiry in Ottawa appears to be indicating, we certainly need better coordination between the different police forces. We also need better civilian oversight of all levels of policing and faster action to contain circumstances such as blockades that impede the normal flow of commerce and citizens.
Copyright 2022 © Peter Lowry
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