Cullen introduces bill to improve RCMP oversight

OTTAWA Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen says he hopes his Private Members’ Bill that he introduced into Parliament this morning will help restore diminishing public trust in the RCMP.

The Civilian Oversight Act would create a Civilian Investigation Service that would be empowered to conduct investigations following death or serious bodily harm occurring in RCMP custody.

“The goal is to restore public trust in the RCMP,” said Cullen. “We ask these brave men and women to do a dangerous and difficult job. We must support them with a system that puts any investigation beyond doubt.”

The legislation responds to a growing chorus of calls from all corners of society for reform to police internal investigations in Canada. Civil Liberties groups across the country have long called for an end to police self-investigations, calls now echoed by the police themselves.

In September, precipitated by a major report by Paul Kennedy, Chair of the Commission for Public Complaints against the RCMP, the BC Association of Chiefs of Police, and top BC RCMP brass called for major reform to fix a dangerous growing deficit of public trust in the force. The Auditor General of Canada has also indicated that stronger civilian oversight is necessary. For Cullen, the inspiration for the bill came from watching the inquiry into the 2005 death of Ian Bush while in custody at the Houston BC RCMP Detachment.

“It is not a matter of guilt or innocence of any of the people involved in that case,” said Cullen, “but I was deeply struck by the problems created when we ask the RCMP to investigate themselves.

“It is impossible for the public to have faith in the process.”

Ian’s mother Linda Bush, who has dedicated herself to reforming the system since her son’s death, joined Cullen in Ottawa today to call for stronger civilian oversight of the RCMP.

“I truly hope that we get a totally civilian body. It is the key to increasing accountability and boosting public confidence in the RCMP,” Bush said.

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For more information, please contact: Tim Howlett, Legislative Assistant    613-993-8662

Download a copy of the Civilian Oversight Act here: Bill C-472 RCMP Civilian Oversight Act (pdf, 64 kb)

Join the discussion at the RCMP Oversight Group on Facebook: Support Civilian Oversight of the RCMP