The federal Conservative government is threatening to pull the RCMP out of British Columbia beginning in 2014 unless it and its cities sign a new 20-year policing contract by the end of November.
Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo Conservative MP Cathy McLeod stands by her government’s insistence to have B.C. sign the new policing contract.
Negotiations have been ongoing for four years, she said, adding the issue needs to move forward.
While the B.C. Liberal government reels from the news of an imposed federal deadline, Solicitor General Shirley Bond briefed delegates at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention last week, calling it an “ultimatum” from the feds.
She told municipal leaders the federal negotiators have walked away from the table and are refusing to resume negotiations.
“We are very concerned about the future of this negotiation.”
Municipal delegates at the convention put together an emergency resolution and passed it on a unanimous vote, calling on the federal Conservatives to return to the bargaining table.
Whether a new RCMP contract is signed by Nov. 30, the current agreement expires at the end of March 2012.
District of 100 Mile House Coun. Dave Mingo said there could be good aspects to forming a provincial police force, as long as it doesn’t shift too much more of a tax burden on small communities.
“Generally, I’d like to have more say from the communities the police are involved with, so we can have more input into that, and more accountability.
“At the same time, I want to look at what the cost would be to the community.”
BC Conservative Party Leader John Cummins said the breakdown of renewal negotiations between the B.C. Liberal government and the RCMP won’t affect the end result.
“Everyone knows the B.C. Liberals will sign the contract with the RCMP. They have no plan to start the work of creating a B.C. provincial police force in a few months.”
The idea of a provincial police force deserves full consideration, he said, but not simply as a last-resort negotiating tactic.
Meanwhile, McLeod said she would personally like to see the RCMP stay in B.C., but added it’s ultimately the province’s decision.
With files from Jeremy Deutsch