The Pundits Are Wrong



If you’ve been reading the news lately, you’ve probably seen very superficial coverage of the Premier’s Mandate Letters.

In some cases, what’s actually in the letters has been ignored altogether in order to talk about what’s not in them.

But, our team took the time to read and analyze every letter and we’ve been very pleased to see provincial autonomy take center stage in the Premier’s directives to her Ministers.

Early last week, the letters for key ministers Mickey Amery (Minister of Justice) and Mike Ellis (Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Services) were released.

The media focused on the fact that neither of the letters mentioned the implementation of an Alberta Police Service. 

In late 2022, Smith’s mandate letters to her previous Justice Minister (then Tyler Shandro) and Public Safety Minister Ellis instructed the pair to work in concert with the Minister of Municipal Affairs to establish an Alberta Police Service.

So, the pundits have taken this to mean the Alberta government has dropped the intention to transition away from the RCMP.

This is misleading.

While the explicit mention of an Alberta Police Service was omitted from the letters this year, there's a key point in the Public Safety letter - increased funding to study municipal policing models.

Ellis’ mandate letter outlined some potential changes to the policing model - including increased sheriff development in municipalities to assist with enforcement, as well as exploring community policing options.

Alberta cities Calgary, Edmonton and Lethbridge already have their own police services, giving their respective city administrations policy control and more freedom to address local issues instead of waiting for the Ottawa bureaucracy to make policing decisions.

The City of Grande Prairie announced last year that they were establishing a police force, becoming the first Alberta community since 1956 to transition away from the RCMP.

The Alberta government clearly expects more municipalities to follow.

In April, Ellis also announced that the Alberta government would be providing $6 million over the next two years for Indigenous and Municipal Police Transition Study Grants.

“No one knows a community’s needs better than the people who live there,” said Ellis. “This funding will empower municipalities to explore different policing models that will improve public safety and address their community’s unique needs.”

The grants will provide the means to conduct research into local public safety needs, locate gaps in the current policing models, and find out how much a potential transition will cost.

This research will also establish a framework for each municipality to transition away from the RCMP

It's becoming more and more obvious why we need to do this.

Staffing shortages in the federal force are a serious problem.

In Alberta, the vacancy rate (the difference in number of officers the force is contracted to provide in the agreement and the number of officers on the force) sits at 15%.

As a result, the RCMP has been unable to properly address the rise in rural crime in Alberta.

Transitioning will give each community the ability to build a local police force that reflects the needs of their communities, and give policy control back to those who are impacted most - the people. 

Each successful transition will help build the case for the creation of an Alberta Police Service.

Just because the transition is not directly mentioned in the mandate letters does not mean that the idea has died.

It means that the Alberta government is taking a slow, deliberate approach to policing and doing its due diligence when it comes to providing better public safety.

However, the slow approach also means that we must remain steadfast in our commitment to advocating for an Alberta Police Service.

The Canadian Federation of Police, the union that represents RCMP officers, as well as a host of other left-leaning advocacy groups and think tanks, has spent the last few years doggedly building opposition to the idea.

They’ve spent millions of dollars on advertising and other avenues.

We are outgunned and outmanned.

We are going to continue to stand our ground, but we need your help.

If you're able, would you contribute $10, $20, or even $50 to help us continue advocating on this important issue?

Together, we can keep the government on task, remove federal intrusion into provincial affairs, and defend the interests of our great province.


The Free Alberta Strategy Team

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  • Paul James
    commented 2023-08-08 12:38:30 -0600
    I am no “expert” on this topic. But I have taken in some input from former RCMP officers over the past few years. Also I originally came from Ontario. I grew up in a rural township south of Barrie Ontario. We had our own “local” police force there when I grew up. I posted the first part of this comment on another site. So rather than retype it all out I will put in my comments about a provincial police force and related comments about theRCMP first. Then I will give my knowledge and observations of the “township police” department in Ontario we had when I was a kid.
    First of all let me say, I feel saddened by the state of the RCMP and when I was a kid I was so proud that Canada had the RCMP.
    We know a few former RCMP officers and we have talked to them somewhat about their thoughts on this issue. Of course it seems they generally feel its better if we keep the RCMP instead of Alberta starting their own force. But here are a number of things to consider for Albertan’s. One positive might be in keeping the RCMP is apparently they are one of the lowest paid police forces in Canada. We were told by one these former RCMP friends that an RCMP officer makes on average about $20,000 less than a police officer on another force. Not sure how true those numbers are, but we have heard from another source too that the RCMP are some of the lowest paid police in Canada. So a savings? Yes, but then again you also get what you pay for. We were also told though that most of the systems and facilities of the RCMP are badly outdated and in desperate need of some major expenditures to get them up to par with other top level police forces in the world. So that will obviously require major expenses spread out over years. So in that case, why not instead of having the federal government charge a big portion of this “upgrading” back to Alberta, we spend that amount of money, and some more if necessary, to set up our own police force that will hopefully be very well organized with high quality standards, and high standards of character for the officers. Compare that with an RCMP that is becoming a disgrace and needs a major overhaul to fix. If you have ever read Sam Coopers book “Wilful Blindness” you will get the strong impression that the RCMP have been compromised for at least a couple of decades roughly. There has been some recent news reports recently that reinforce that notion.
    Here is my opinion on allowing Alberta to set more localized police forces to replace the RCMP. I lived in Ontario for many years before moving to Alberta in 2008. In my mind the best police force in Canada was and hopefully still is the O.P.P..
    I personally think we need to continue to pursue Alberta’s own police force that will serve the best interests of Albertan’s. We can no longer put our trust in the RCMP when Trudeau appoints relatives of friends, or friends, to the RCMP top levels of authority. It will take at lease a few years to fix the RCMP in its current state, and it would mean it would require them to start right away too. I really believe Alberta needs to seriously think of and plan for an alternative to the RCMP. Lets plan to spend the money it would require to upgrade and hopefully fix the broken pieces of the RCMP on a top notch police force of our own instead. One that would be owned and controlled from Alberta, not Ottawa.
    Now, I won’t mention the “township” police force from Ontario by name. Perhaps a few who read this will figure out what police force I speak of. I am telling this to say that I am somewhat concerned of Alberta planning on smaller regional police forces in various regions of the province to replace the RCMP. The “township” police force where I grew up in Ontario had about 15-20 officers just before it “folded” shall we say. Let me try to summarize the quality of this force by telling you another related true story. I still have a picture to prove this as well. In one area of this Ontario “township” one of the communities erected their own rather large “welcome to….” sign on their main thoroughfare. One day while on my way to work in Barrie to do some overtime on a Saturday in the early 1980’s someone had ( I have to assume the night before) placed a plywood sign hung over top of this official “welcome to….” sign that had “Welcome to Hazzard County” painted on it.
    Anyone who watched the old comedy TV series “The Dukes of Hazzard” should get the full impact of the meaning of this prank.
    This “township” police force went on for a few decades with most of the officers never having received firearms training (this came out in an Ontario Police Commission investigation in the early 1980’s). When I was quite young we had one “officer” park in our neighbours driveway one night. My family watched the neighbours daughter (who was in her late teens, or early twenties) come out to the car to “make love” to the officer while they sat in the neighbours driveway. The next morning I went out onto our front lawn (I was 5 or 6 at the time) and picked up a “used balloon” that had been thrown onto our lawn from the night before. I think you get what I mean.
    The police chief of this force was charged in the late 1970’s with impaired driving in a police cruiser. He crashed it into a railway crossing in the city of Barrie. Of course the “local police commission” acquitted him of impaired driving but suspended him for “discreditable” conduct. In another event I was in the neighbourhood area the night of a murder that happened close to a bakery in the early hours of the morning in the 1970’s in that “township”. I was about 16 years old at that time. Some friends and I sat in this friends driveway later the next morning and witnessed the bungling of that situation until the O.P.P. showed up. That “township” force was later investigated by the Ontario Police Commission and the police commission had to take charge of that force to get it under control. I also found some online police commission arbitration reports. That “township” force had “a detective squad” that was not qualified to be a detective plain clothes squad at all as they constantly changed these “officers” from uniform to plain clothes, and back again at will. The Commission and an arbitrator judge called them out as being basically phony detectives with nothing more than basic police training. It was a disgusting farce of a force.
    So I feel unless the Province of Alberta has some means to monitor and keep local police forces reigned in and under strict observation it can easily get out of hand and you could easily see some of these forces becoming corrupt.
    So, a provincial well trained, well scrutinized police force would be the best of the three options that I have heard.
  • Free Alberta Strategy
    published this page in News 2023-08-07 22:29:42 -0600