THE STANDING SENATE COMMITTEE ON NATIONAL SECURITY AND DEFENCE
OTTAWA, Monday, April 22, 2013
The Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence, to which was referred Bill C-42, An Act to amend the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts, met this day at 4 p.m. to give consideration to the bill.
Senator Daniel Lang (Chair) in the chair.
The Chair: Honourable senators, welcome to the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence for Monday, April 22. Before we welcome our witnesses, I would like to begin by introducing the people around the table. My name is Dan Lang, a senator from Yukon. On my immediate left is the clerk of our committee, Josée Thérien. On my right are our Library of Parliament analysts assigned to the committee, Holly Porteous and Dominique Valiquet.
I would like to go around the table and invite the senators to introduce themselves and state the region they represent, starting with the deputy chair.
Senator Dallaire: I am Senator Roméo
Dallaire, and I represent the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the Magdalen Islands.
Senator Mitchell: Grant Mitchell, Alberta.
Senator Day: Joseph Day from New Brunswick.
Senator Campbell: Larry Campbell from British Columbia.
Senator Patterson: Dennis Patterson, Nunavut.
Senator Nolin: Pierre Claude Nolin, from the province of Quebec.
Senator Duffy: Mike Duffy, Prince Edward Island.
The Chair: Thank you. Today we are beginning consideration of Bill C-42, An Act to amend the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts. With us, on what is a very busy day, are the Honourable Vic Toews, Minister of Public Safety; François Guimont, Deputy Minister of Public Safety Canada; and Bob Paulson, Commissioner, Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
Honourable senators, you will recall Minister Toews was last before the committee almost one year ago during our study of Bill C-38, and Commissioner Paulson appeared before us on October 22 last year to discuss reforms and changes within the RCMP. At that time, Commissioner Paulson provided an overview of Bill C-42, which was before the other place.
We are pleased to welcome the minister and commissioner back to this committee. The minister will be available, I am hoping, until 5:15, and Commissioner Paulson and the deputy minister will remain in attendance until approximately 5:30.
Minister, before you begin, I would like to offer our thanks and congratulations to you, the commissioner, members of the RCMP and CSIS, as well as our local police forces for the arrests of the two terrorist suspects in Toronto and Montreal earlier today. Thank you for keeping our Canada safe.
Minister, welcome. I understand you have some opening comments you would like to make.
The Honourable Vic Toews, P.C., M.P., Minister of Public Safety: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Honourable senators, I am very pleased to be here to assist in your study of Bill C-42, the enhancing RCMP accountability act. I am joined, as you have indicated, by Public Safety Deputy Minister François Guimont and RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson.
I would also like to express my thanks to the RCMP for a very thorough investigation, as well as to our American counterparts; I know the commissioner was very appreciative of the help we received from the Americans in the investigation that culminated in the two arrests today.
I would like to thank this committee for its ongoing interest in the challenges facing our national police force. I have followed your study on RCMP harassment, and I am happy to have the opportunity to discuss how Bill C-42 will help address this serious issue.
I will also today address some concerns and misconceptions about the bill and outline some important amendments that have been made during its review in the other place.
Over the past several years, our government has worked with the RCMP and the commissioner to find the best way forward to strengthen civilian review, modernize the HR system within the RCMP and address issues of harassment. The result is Bill C-42, a comprehensive piece of legislation that will make several significant changes to the RCMP Act and create a modern, accountable, national police force for the future.
Honourable senators, I would like to start with what Bill C-42 will not do. There have been calls for our government to make the RCMP a separate entity with separate employee status, as well as a board of management to oversee the management of the RCMP. Our government feels that these changes are not necessary for creating a revitalized, accountable police force. Allow me to explain further.
Since 2007, we have seen great progress under the RCMP's transformation agenda. We have seen the establishment of the RCMP Departmental Audit Committee, as mandated under the Federal Accountability Act, which consists of three prominent individuals independent of the RCMP. This committee provides advice and recommendations on the adequacy and functioning of the RCMP's risk management, as well as its control and governance frameworks and processes.
As part of the renewed police services agreements, the RCMP Contract Management Committee provides an opportunity for provinces and territories to have real and meaningful input into decisions concerning accountability and keeping policing costs low.
I would like to thank the commissioner for his leadership in respect to that police services agreement, the 20-year agreement; and I want to thank the various provinces and territories that worked very diligently with members of my department, with the RCMP and, indeed, with discussions involving myself to conclude that agreement.
With the passage of Bill C-42, a board of management would only create unnecessary redundancies and complications in the RCMP's accountability and oversight structures. I have talked about the redundancies that would occur if this concept were to be adopted.
Next, I will address concerns that have been raised about this legislation. It is important to point out that much of Bill C-42 deals with the maintenance of internal discipline and integrity within the organization. These measures are designed to regulate conduct related to being a responsible member of the RCMP and thereby enhance public trust. Our government is of the view that these measures are consistent with the rights enshrined in the Charter. In fact, the tools provided by Bill C-42 are similar to measures widely used in regulating the conduct not only of police but also of many other types of professionals across Canada.
There are claims that RCMP members will be forced to incriminate themselves during investigations. The authority to compel RCMP members to respond to questions during internal investigations about members' conduct has been in existence since 1988 and does not change under Bill C-42. Indeed, the requirement that responses be provided to questions during the investigation of allegations of misconduct is common in most professional fields. It is important to note that, consistent with the protections provided under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, any response given to a question during a conduct proceeding cannot be used against the member in any civil, administrative or criminal proceeding, except in a conduct proceeding involving an allegation that the member knowingly gave a false statement.
We have also heard claims related to the power of the RCMP to conduct an ex parte search warrant on a member's home for non-criminal administrative measures. The authority to obtain a search warrant or production order for the purposes of an internal administrative conduct investigation would not be unique to the RCMP. Indeed, these authorities have existed in police statutes in British Columbia, Ontario and Newfoundland and Labrador for several years. A search warrant is also available to Ontario police investigators during an investigation into performance issues of police.
Similar to the authorities found in the British Columbia, Ontario and Newfoundland and Labrador statutes, Bill C-42 has a built-in judicial safeguard in that only a justice or provincial court judge has the authority to grant a search warrant or production order. Bill C-42 goes further than these other regimes by requiring that internal authorization be sought from a designated officer prior to an application being brought before a justice.
Finally, the third claim is that Bill C-42 will prohibit members from speaking publicly about issues within the force. The current RCMP code of conduct regulations, and not Bill C-42, prohibit members from publicly criticizing the force, which is the obligation that generally exists for all public servants. Members are not, however, prevented from exercising their rights as authorized by law relating to allegations of wrongdoing, including the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act. This is what exists for all public service employees employed by the government.
I have spent some time reviewing what Bill C-42 will not do. I will now move on to what it will do, because I strongly believe that this legislation will help bring about the changes we are looking for — changes that have been called for by Canadians and RCMP members alike.
In terms of this committee's recent study, when implemented, Bill C-42 will undoubtedly have a positive and significant impact on the ongoing efforts to address harassment and conduct issues in the RCMP by overcoming the current situation, which requires parallel processes that struggle to meet the separate requirements of the Treasury Board policy on harassment and the RCMP's own code of conduct. It will do this by modernizing the internal human resources management structure, which includes the discipline and grievance systems within the RCMP. For example, Bill C-42 will provide the Commissioner of the RCMP with the authority to establish a single, comprehensive system for investigating and resolving harassment concerns.
The RCMP Commissioner will also have the authority to appoint and promote most commissioned officers and establish rules with respect to the stoppage of pay and allowances for members who are ordered dismissed by a conduct board or who have been suspended from duty pending the resolution of their conduct matter.
During this committee's study of RCMP harassment, you heard about the current challenges and the pressing need for change. By modernizing the human resources regime and the grievance and discipline procedures, Bill C-42 will provide a solid foundation to implement this change.
In her testimony before this committee, the Chair of the RCMP External Review Committee noted that Bill C-42 will provide the flexibility necessary for the RCMP to renew, revitalize and reform their internal processes, and that it will thereby help restore some confidence on the part of RCMP members and the public. This further cements why we need to move ahead swiftly with the current legislation. A major cultural shift in our national police force can only go so far and needs changes to the underlying legislative framework. While legislation alone cannot bring about cultural change, it can serve as a catalyst for change.
Our government introduced amendments in the other place that further strengthen Bill C-42. In addition to some technical amendments, three substantive amendments were introduced, including allowing retired RCMP members to work as reservists for six months or more to provide more flexible staffing options to commanding officers; clarifying that the chairperson of the civilian review and complaints commission, like all commission members, is immune from legal action or from testifying on matters related to the work of the commission; and ensuring that the RCMP Commissioner cannot refuse to investigate a complaint initiated by the chairperson of the new committee.
Our government believes firmly that we are on the right path to transform the RCMP into the modern, accountable police force that Canadians expect and deserve. From the RCMP Commissioner, from senior management and from RCMP members, we have seen a collective desire to meet this goal.
Before I close, I want to address one final concern. There is a concern that Bill C-45, the Jobs and Growth Act, 2012, will adversely affect RCMP civilian members converting, specific to the pension amendments increasing the retirement age to 65 for all new public service employees. The Treasury Board, as the employer, will determine whether this will occur and when, and I can assure the committee and RCMP civilian members that this will not occur until RCMP and Treasury Board pension officials have reviewed the policy considerations and mechanics of converting civilian members to public servants in light of the amendments in Bill C-45, the Jobs and Growth Act, 2012.
Thank you. I am now happy to answer any questions you may have.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Minister. Before we start the proceedings, it is my understanding that you will have to leave at five o'clock. Is that correct?
Mr. Toews: Apparently, I do.
The Chair: Apparently you do.
Mr. Toews: It appears I have an appointment somewhere else. I am sorry about that.
The Chair: I just want to clarify for the proceedings here.
Mr. Toews: I just thought in fairness to the committee, since I had come a little late I was prepared to stay, but if there are other commitments I will have to honour those.
The Chair: Commissioner Paulson, are you able to stay until 5:30?
Bob Paulson, Commissioner, Royal Canadian Mounted Police: I can stay as late as needed.
The Chair: Thank you.
Mr. Minister, your comments were very helpful in setting the stage for our consideration of Bill C-42, and I would like to begin by asking two questions as chair.
First, given this bill would be largely guided by regulations, which have yet to be presented, and that as written the current bill does not contain any review provisions, would you have any difficulty if Parliament or, more specifically, this committee were to seek to review this bill in three years as part of ensuring it achieves what you and the commissioner are proposing?
Mr. Toews: Well, Mr. Chair, I think that in view of the substantive changes that are being made to the operational framework of the RCMP, I would not have any concern about that. I think that is a prudent step to take, and if the Senate is willing to undertake that kind of review I am certainly not going to stand in its way.
The Chair: Thank you, minister. Also, this bill delegates significant powers to the commissioner, including new powers to appoint deputy commissioners, officers, et cetera. What are the checks and balances available to you and the members of the RCMP regular forces to ensure that these new powers are not abused?
Mr. Toews: That is a good question. Do you want to deal with that, commissioner?
Mr. Paulson: Thank you, minister; thank you, Mr. Chair, ladies and gentlemen.
While the bill speaks to the appointment of senior officers, the practice at present is recommendations for order-in-council orders at my recommendation. The new vision for these appointments is, much like we are doing in the new contract for the contract provinces, to consult with provincial authorities on the appointments of commanding officers and deputy commissioners where they are deputy commissioners, and the same thing with minister and the government, to check with them for those senior appointments. In terms of checks and balances, I would think my HR practices and the transparency with which those appointments are made will be available to review perhaps even by the new CRCC envisioned by this legislation because they can do policy reviews. If it became of interest to them that they might want to see how the commissioner is appointing some of his officers, then they would be free to come and have a look at that. That is the check.
Mr. Toews: There is that remedy that the commissioner has indicated. In fact, the practice is that when the commissioner recommends an appointment I cannot recall of any appointment not being approved by the government. Certainly in my experience I have never witnessed that. That, in fact, is the practice when the commissioner makes a recommendation, and given the external independent review that can occur now, we believe that if the commissioner were in any way to abuse the authority or there were a perception of abuse it would be the jurisdiction to look at that.
This is a further step to indicate that the RCMP is independent of government, and the more we can foster that while still maintaining strong accountability is a good step for the RCMP.
The Chair: Thank you, minister.
Senator Dallaire: Welcome again, minister. The last time we spoke formally you were hoping Bill C-42 would permit the RCMP to have the authorities it needs to maintain the discipline within the force, to develop its ethos and its sense of responsibility to its members, as well to the Canadian public, and ultimately this reform would change the image that the RCMP has amongst its own troops, let alone the outside world.
I am looking at what the commissioner had as tools. That is why I am looking at the two of you synchronizing here. The RCMP had the RCMP Regulations, 1988, and, pursuant with the RCMP Act, the commissioner's standing orders to work and to permit the RCMP Act to allow the commissioner to make significant decisions in regard to standing orders and rules within the RCMP.
I am trying to compare it to where I have come from in looking at this. Although this legislation is explicit in generally what you want to do and there are regulations, why did those tools of the past break down? If they broke down, can you actually say that this thing is going far enough to rectify and to give that authority? As an example, the Chief of the Defence Staff has within the Queen's Regulations and Orders the National Defence Act. Will there still be a delta there in order to establish that same sense of responsibility and protection for the troops and the senior leadership?
Mr. Toews: Thank you, senator. In fact, it was your comments that stayed with me when you indicated that as a senior officer in the Canadian Armed Forces you had a significant amount of authority to exercise discipline in respect of many matters, including I think sending someone to jail for a period of time.
Senator Dallaire: The gallows for a while, too.
Mr. Toews: We will not go there. However, it struck me that as an operating organization we could learn from the military and see whether we could utilize some of those tools. When looking at the authority of RCMP line officers, sergeants and corporals, they virtually had no authority to do anything. In fact, as soon as there was any kind of administrative concern or administrative offence it went into a very formal, convoluted process that simply bogged down the system for years in respect of relatively minor complaints. Matters that should have been dealt with expeditiously and summarily were in fact aggravatingly long.
I believe that giving that authority, as we do with the Canadian Armed Forces, to the lower level officers will in fact enhance the ability of the RCMP to hold people accountable at the line and still provide a protection for the officers being disciplined. I am satisfied we have achieved that balance. Given the differences between the military and the RCMP, I would not want to go any further than we have already gone.
Senator Dallaire: By bringing in this capability that was not there and delegating not only responsibility but authority to lower levels, what does not come out in your HR reform — because the term "reform" is used, which is not an insignificant term; it is stronger than "renewal" and all those other things — is how that whole officer cadre will be realigned in order to handle the significant power in the process of its implementation and subsequently ensuring that it will be credible and ethical in so doing. That does not come across as part of the package in Bill C-42. Is there a way that that will be presented to us?
Mr. Toews: I think that reform is implicit in the substantive changes being made in the law. The RCMP will have to take on that responsibility to carry out that legislative mandate at an operational level.
I am wondering whether the commissioner can add anything to that.
Mr. Paulson: Yes, thank you, minister. Mr. Chair, what I would say is that the structural changes have already started to happen, so we have eliminated two regions of the country. We have eliminated a layer of deputy commissioners and the associated bureaucracy. We are realigning how regions were organized and the HR responsibilities that were being managed within these regions, so we have eliminated that as well.
When we say that we are putting the responsibility for discipline down to the lowest level, we are going down to NCOs, corporals and sergeants. The COs, the commanding officers of the divisions, are reporting directly to me. I have a central body in our HR world that is overseeing the administration of all these things. There will be a much more direct line of accountability with a line of sight for me and for my professional integrity officer, whom I believe you have heard from, perhaps. We are building that office as well to give that overlay of accountability to this new approach. There is no question that it is a little revolutionary, given how our previous system had worked, but I think we are persuaded that the solution lies in the front line’s discharging of the responsibilities to lead these men and women in these important jobs they do.
Senator Dallaire: I have a follow-up question on oversight.
The Chair: I would ask everyone to keep their preambles to a minimum because we only have the minister for 30 minutes. I will call on Senator Plett.
Senator Plett: Thank you, minister and commissioner, for being here. I will keep my preamble short. Minister, would you be able to comment on the overall budget associated with Bill C-42 and specifically with the new complaints review commission, as well as modernizing the human resources framework?
Mr. Toews: As I understand it, that will involve approximately $15 million more a year, with $5 million to the complaints commission and $10 million to the rest of the initiative.
Senator Plett: What do we have now?
François Guimont, Deputy Minister, Public Safety Canada: If I may, my understanding is that right now the current commission functions at about $5.4 million. That is their A base. It will be augmented by $5 million, so they will be operating with a budget of $10 million overall. There has been an adjustment. Their original budget was around $5.4 million, as I mentioned, and there was a program integrity augmentation that was provided per annum, so they were at about $8.5 million. Net will be $1.9 million more for an overall $10 million for operations.
Senator Plett: As you are aware, this committee is right now dealing with harassment in the RCMP, and we will be writing a report. Would you or the commissioner be able to comment on what Bill C-42 will do to improve the ability of the commissioner to possibly be able to deal with disputes relating to harassment?
Mr. Toews: It is, in fact, a very important issue. I know some observations were made in the other place that the word "harassment" itself does not appear in the legislation. That is a strange way of looking at a piece of legislation. What we are concerned about is inappropriate conduct, which clearly falls into the context and which would include harassment.
With the manner in which we have devolved responsibility to lower level officers, as well as the independent oversight that is now present in the RCMP, I think we are well positioned to deal with individual complaints as well as any systemic concerns.
Mr. Paulson: I might add that the way to a more efficient and effective approach to harassment through Bill C-42 is arrived at through a recognition that the RCMP currently, in the case of regular members engaged in a harassment situation, takes a very criminal investigative approach to it. You heard the minister in his opening comments talk about this bifurcated system that complicates moving forward to address the harassment so we end up in this protracted disciplinary grievance process. We are streamlining that, giving me the authority to be able to devise and implement a streamlined approach to have respectful workplace or early intervention offices in every division, and they are fostering and encouraging the early resolution of these workplace conflict issues that give rise to harassment. A number of initiatives within the act provide me the specific tools I need to streamline the response, that is, the process, but also to get to the heart of the matter, which is how we interact with each other on the front line.
Senator Mitchell: Thank you, Mr. Minister, for being here and for your support for the efforts of the Senate. I know you were behind this inquiry and this study of ours, and we appreciate that.
I am not quite as optimistic that Bill C-42 will accomplish what it is that we all want to accomplish. I do not deny that it is a tool in the tool box but, when you think about it, almost every feature of it is dealing with a problem after the fact that the problem has occurred — firing power after a problem has occurred, a grievance procedure after something needs to be grieved, a serious incident investigation after a serious incident. I am not convinced that it really addresses, and this is Senator Dallaire's point, the cultural problem that has allowed and engendered these problems to exist in the first place.
You mentioned the transformation that has been going on for five or six years, since 2007. Well into Commissioner Paulson's new mandate, we find that a young woman was sexually harassed, slapped twice inappropriately in a social incident and ridiculed in that environment. In the end, she was vindicated to the extent that the constable who did it was told to apologize and lost seven days' pay, but she had to move. The message that sends to the organization on behalf of that woman, about that woman, is that somehow she was wrong. I am not convinced that the change deep in the culture is there. We find as recently as a year ago that a sergeant exposed himself and was convicted by a tribunal, and the tribunal could have fired him but did not. The conduct board, now in this bill with three people, could be the same three people who refused to fire him this time, so they could actually be put back in place.
The point is, where do we get the comfort and conviction that there really is an understanding that, beyond just good intention, something much deeper and more is being done than simply a bill? I am not saying it is nothing because it is of some consequence, but it is a bill that simply deals with the problems after they occur.
Mr. Toews: Let us address that, and let us think about what legislation should accomplish. In my view, there will be very few pieces of legislation that will address those kinds of issues proactively. I do not know how you do that through legislation. You can put into a statute that the guiding principle of the RCMP will be to not harass anyone. Again, it is a relatively meaningless statement if there is not a desire among senior management to accomplish that end.
What I think happened with the RCMP, from a legislative point of view, was that the ability to move quickly to impose appropriate discipline was simply not there. That bred an inappropriate attitude and inappropriate conduct with the feeling that you could get away with acting inappropriately. Unless you respond virtually immediately to these matters, that type of conduct will be seen as being condoned, whether it is or not. The legislation brings the right of the officers to move very quickly to immediately stop it.
Then the issue is how we break out of this cultural mould, and that is what the RCMP commissioner has to do in terms of proactive initiatives. Policy reviews is one proactive step that can be taken under the legislation. How do we change this culture from a policy point of view? There are certain things that can be done proactively, but again it depends each on the goodwill of the officers in place. We also have that independent review committee that takes these steps and ensures that if the commissioner is not doing his or her job, then there will be some way to hold them accountable.
Senator Mitchell: That is certainly reassuring, and I do not disagree with you at all. I agree with you that Bill C-42 legislation cannot fix it. What I am trying to get at is what, besides that, is fixing it? I will get to that because, in fact, there are those who would argue that if you give the power to fire to lower and lower echelons and disperse it, you possibly give power to the harassers to fire the people who have complained that they are being harassed by them.
My point will come to — Commissioner Paulson alluded to it and he will undoubtedly do so again — the respectful workplace. When we had senior members here, I asked someone who should have been responsible for this, "What is your budget, not for Bill C-42, but for respectful workplaces," and that senior officer did not know. We asked someone else who had responsibility for implementing — no national standards. I asked the auditor, "Have you done a baseline audit?" The Simmie Smith study done in B.C. was a great study. Why is that not being done all the way across? In B.C. 462 members were able to present their case, and it is a powerful report. Why do we not do that across the country to create a baseline?
Then I asked, "Have you got an audit process for a year or two years from now?" No, the auditor had not, so what I will suggest is the suggestion that while there are good intentions, there is not really a grasp of what needs to be done. If you were managing this, you would say, "I will have an audit, I will have it now and later, and I will have all these things in place; I will have a budget, and the person responsible will know the budget," but I do not think that is happening.
Mr. Toews: My understanding from the RCMP is in fact that they are doing exactly that. I do not know if you could give a quick summary of that.
Mr. Paulson: We are doing exactly what you were just saying. We are implementing a respectful workplace plan by division. The minister gave me clear marching orders to keep up with a plan for gender and respect. We developed a comprehensive action plan called "Gender and Respect," and we are implementing that now. We have appointed a senior officer who is doing that, so I do not know why you would think it is not getting done, because it is.
Senator Mitchell: Just the answers I got. I will send you the text.
Mr. Toews: I appreciate that.
Senator Nolin: Minister, Mr. Guimont and Mr. Paulson, thank you for accepting our invitation to be here. I was glad to hear your reference to the relationship between Bill C-42 and Bill C-45 in your introductory remarks.
Minister, the civilian employees of the RCMP are concerned — and you made reference to that in your remarks — about the fact that, basically, they do not want more rights. They just do not want fewer rights than they had prior to the end of December 31, when Bill C-45 kicked in with the Treasury Board. They want to be reassured by you as minister, and of course by the government, that they will be somewhat grandfathered, like all other public servants were, on December 31, 2012, when Bill C-45 kicked in. That is what they are waiting for from you. Of course, I totally respect that the government will find the proper way, and of course there will be discussions between Treasury Board and their own representatives to ensure that will transition smoothly to Bill C-45, but they want to be reassured that they will not lose anything in that process.
Mr. Toews: As has been stated, while I might be responsible for the RCMP, I am not the employer. I want to assure you that the concerns you have raised and that I referred to in my opening statement will be raised with Treasury Board.
Senator Nolin: I understand that we will receive representatives from Treasury Board later on in the study on Bill C-42, and I will put to them a more specific question about how they want to achieve that policy question that you understand as being important.
Senator Campbell: Do we have any ongoing, forward-looking plan for the civilian members? We have been getting lots of emails; there are 3,800 civilian members. I know it will be Treasury Board who will be addressing them, but they have some legitimate areas of concern.
As a former Mountie, I know how important civilian members are, and I would not want to say there is a lack of trust if you are not a civilian member, but there is certainly something there for a member to be talking to a civilian member or to know that it is a civilian member who is involved.
Why are we doing this? Why would we take civilian members and place them under the public service?
Mr. Paulson: For a couple of reasons. First, we call it the category of employee discussion, where we effectively have three large categories. We have what we call regular members, civilian members and public servants, but you will know, senator, that there are also municipal employees and provincial employees. This has been a long-standing effort to bring efficiency to the force.
You may also note that in the current legislation, there is no provision to have civilian members in the RCMP. In fact, there has never been any legal basis to have civilian members in the RCMP. There is some legal basis to have some pension matters, but in any case, the idea is to bring it together.
As I have said in my town halls, if we could have one category of employee, that would be ideal. A public servant category of professionally developed, motivated, instructed and trained people doing the same work that our civilian members are doing now is a much more efficient approach to HR than having three.
The back office that is here at headquarters supports all the pay systems, management systems and developmental systems for civilian members and brings us closer together as an organization, allowing for some efficiency.
Senator Campbell: Would you go to one single category of regular member and one category of public servant? Would those be your two categories?
Mr. Paulson: That is exactly right, yes.
Senator Campbell: There would be no civilian member in the middle?
Mr. Paulson: That is right.
Senator Campbell: Is there an opportunity to grandfather the people who are already there as civilian members? They have some expectations with regard to the pension and in getting service pay after five years. There is a bunch of stuff wrapped up in that. People have made life decisions according to this, so is there an opportunity to grandfather the civilian members in, have a start date and from now on you will be a public servant?
Mr. Toews: That is essentially the discussion that will occur with Treasury Board, to ensure that this is done in the most equitable way. Certainly, as I have indicated to some of the other senators, I will ensure that Treasury Board is aware of the concerns raised by individuals, as you say, who have made decisions in their career and now find themselves potentially impacted by changes in the legislative framework.
Senator Campbell: Thank you very much, minister and commissioner.
Senator Patterson: I wanted to thank the witnesses. I would like to ask the minister, I know there has been quite a background leading us to this new legislation. Could you briefly outline the process of consultation that has gotten us here today?
Mr. Toews: The process has been quite extensive. As you may know, the legislation and the legislative package originally included provisions related to the unionization of the RCMP. That came about as a result of certain court decisions. The problem was, when you read the court decisions, they did not seem to make very much sense — I say that very respectfully — in terms of actually applying it into the workplace. It seemed to me, given my labour and constitutional law background, that there was something wrong with that decision. The decision was appealed and we waited and waited. We consulted extensively — the commissioner, prior commissioners and others — with members about how change should occur. Eventually, I made the decision that we could not wait for the courts any longer in terms of the unionization aspect and simply said we would proceed on Bill C-42, which you essentially find before you today, and we left the unionization. Subsequently the court came out and overturned some of the disconcerting aspects of the union aspect of the legislation. By that time we had already gone too far down the path to include those aspects of the legislation, so we left that alone.
Perhaps the commissioner can add something; I know the consultation was done before your time.
Mr. Paulson: We have consulted extensively within the organization. In fact, we are building a planning section, in the event that this legislation is passed, that incorporates all of the component parts of the organization. We have been outside of the organization to other organizations, to other police forces, and we have compared some of the proposed practices with the most modern approaches to police HR systems, so we have been extensively consultative.
Senator Day: Gentlemen, the first area I would like to explore is the parallel with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and its oversight body, the Security Intelligence Review Committee, and, in particular, access to documents. My understanding is the members of SIRC are Privy Councillors and they are given that level of authority. Do you contemplate a similar type of clearance for the new civilian review committee members?
Mr. Paulson: I think we do anticipate that, subject to some privileges, which I think are in place in all the applications of a similar approach.
Mr. Toews: It is fairly expansive, if you look at the legislation. I know we have had some fairly significant discussions about the appropriate extent to which that should be released and which privileges should remain. We felt there should be a greater ability to access that documentation, with certain safeguards.
Senator Day: That supports the parallel that SIRC has worked fairly well with respect to CSIS.
Mr. Toews: Yes; it is a different context; there are some differences. I cannot remember them off the top of my head, but I know when I was involved in those discussions, certainly the CSIS and the SIRC review and the disclosure issue was discussed thoroughly and we came to the conclusion that this is about as appropriate a situation that we wanted to proceed to.
Senator Day: My other area, which follows on from that, is with respect to the relationship between the civilian review group that is contemplated by this legislation and the provision in here in relation to serious incidents that can be referred to an oversight or a review body in one of the provinces, if there exists such a group.
Can you describe the relationship with respect to a serious incident? It could possibly be something that the civilian review agency might want to look into, but you might also want to refer this to an oversight body in the province where the serious incident occurred. How will that be worked out and who will be the referee here?
Mr. Toews: The jurisdiction is quite different. One relates almost exclusively to criminal investigations. That is why we would rather not have police investigating police insofar as it is available to give that to an independent agency. The proposed civilian review and complaints commission would have a slightly different, non-criminal review power.
Mr. Paulson: In our contract context, British Columbia just stood up a new independent review mechanism for police incidents where people are seriously hurt or killed or for other incidents. There is discretion to do the investigation. What is contemplated here for the CRCC is that they are able to make that determination and refer it. Currently, there is a legislative impasse between the CPC and these bodies coming up, province by province. It is a mechanism to allow the CRCC to refer these things in that context to those review agencies.
Senator Day: From a jurisdictional point of view, we have a provincial agency investigating federal employees.
Mr. Paulson: Right.
Senator Day: Is that something that you would have to get involved in in each case to delegate to that authority to the provincial authority?
Mr. Paulson: No. We are doing it in the provincial force context or in a municipal context. One of the challenges that we are meeting with this new legislation is the idea that the RCMP has always been open to independent review and independent investigation of incidents that are of public interest, but in some of these provinces they have not existed. Now they are popping up in all the jurisdictions. The minister and I have taken the position that we are not opposed to being reviewed in that respect. As for what we do as a federal police force, the CRCC will have the jurisdiction to come in, open our filing cabinets and ask us questions about our policies and about ongoing investigations. I think it is a good balance in terms of striking a balance between our activities.
Senator Day: I would like to go on, but I think the minister's time is up.
Mr. Toews: It does get a little confusing sometimes — not to those who will actually work with the legislation, but for a layperson and for those of us on the outside. Ultimately, those provincial review bodies do not have the power to discipline the officer; that still remains in federal jurisdiction.
Senator Day: That is helpful.
Mr. Toews: The review that occurs could be recommending criminal charges, for example. That then goes to the Crown attorney, who looks at it, and then it might go to the courts. Ultimately, the issue of discipline will still remain in federal jurisdiction as opposed to the jurisdiction of those provincial ones because of that constitutional issue.
Senator Day: That is helpful, Mr. Minister; thank you.
The Chair: One more question for the minister, Senator Dallaire. It will be a short question, as we are coming up to five o'clock.
Senator Dallaire: Regarding the CRCC, this states that "the Commission may, on the request of the Minister" — and I am addressing this question to you, sir — "or on its own initiative, conduct a review of specified activities of the Force." So you are bringing in a whole set of tools for the commissioner. I am relating you to the CDS sort of thing. You are getting a whole new set of tools to do the job better, but in your role, minister, will you create an oversight body that will be either that CRCC that you will give direction to or some other body that will ensure that that plan of reform that the commissioner wants to do will actually happen to the level that will bring about for him, as well as for the Canadian people, the sense that they have conducted a reform and that they have done it, very rapidly? For $5 million or $10 million, I am surprised you will be able to do that. We had to create a new Canadian Forces Leadership Institute and a bunch of other assets over years to bring that about. Do you not think maybe your role will be significant in that implementation plan?
Mr. Toews: Certainly there must be some degree of leadership and direction from the government. However, given that it is an independent police force, we have to be very clear. That is why it is so good that I can simply refer a matter to the proposed civilian review and complaints commission and let them then do the appropriate investigation, or they can do it of their own accord. Ultimately, there still has to be a reporting back to me of the CRCC's findings. As well, I can also go directly to the commissioner and say, "I am very unhappy with what has gone on in the police department. I have a report here from the CRCC and they say certain things but I want to hear directly from you as well." This does not excuse the responsibility of the minister to remain responsible in a parliamentary sense for that organization.
I see this as an additional tool that will provide the RCMP with a degree of oversight but will still hold ministers accountable for how they deal with the RCMP.
The Chair: It is now five o'clock. We will excuse the minister. Minister, thank you very much for your leadership on this bill — I know it has been a long road — and for taking time once again to appear before the committee. We always appreciate your time.
We will continue our questions with Commissioner Paulson and Deputy Minister Guimont as part of this panel. Mark Potter, Director General, Policing Policy Directorate, Public Safety Canada, is joining the panel to support the deputy.
Senator Dallaire: I am looking at the deputy minister now, if I may, and his area of responsibility in the implementation of this bill and meeting the requirements that the commissioner may call for in relation to how those regulations will be articulated in order for him to meet the reform that he is articulating he needs.
Are there any queries at all in implementing Bill C-42 from the RCMP that are not being met because of a resource limitation of any sort?
Mr. Guimont: Thank you for the question. In the references to the budget that I made earlier on, I did indicate that the current budget of the program integrity of CPC as it stands was augmented and there will be a further top-up of $1.9 million. This was based on a business case, which I am sure Mr. Potter will be able to refer to. There are obviously projections, but we feel confident that with this increment, this permanent budget for the new body, they will be able to function and discharge their responsibilities.
Senator Dallaire: I wish to pursue that, if I may. I am looking at the enormous responsibilities that are being brought to the commissioner in his reform of the structure, and remembering that we moved authority and responsibility down lower. There will be a significant amount of reform, of education, of training and of development of his officer corps, both senior, middle, the NCO corps and potential changes even in Depot in some of the length of training that is required there because you will be adding some elements. If their depots are like any others, they are already chockablock full and there is no room in the syllabus and you may need more time.
We are using the term "formation" of budgetary cuts. I am looking at you most deliberately, sir. Is there any way, shape or form that to implement the significance of this change, which is difficult to quantify at this point, there would be restrictions or restraints or unavailability of resources to actually bring about that reform?
Mr. Guimont: I would simply say that, with the new commission, we believe the resources allocated will be adequate.
I would, however, like to draw a distinction, Mr. Chair.
A lot of the human resources management regime of the RCMP, which I will let Commissioner Paulson speak to, is not tied to the budgetary envelope that will come with the commission.
Senator Dallaire: That is only one thing.
Mr. Guimont: That is only one thing. I am sure Mr. Paulson can speak to this. That is very important because certain efficiencies may just help save resources, but I will let Commissioner Paulson address that.
Mr. Paulson: Just speaking to the broad arc of your question, senator, we have a fairly robust or sizable HR component. In fact, we are bringing efficiencies to our HR machine right now, with a view to maximizing the available resources within our HR machine from headquarters out to the divisions. We are also planning to use this $10 million, which is a sizable sum of new money that was set aside, to build the training that will be required to deliver on this bill. That includes the training of the NCOs, the training of the officers — the central oversight. We are absolutely persuaded we can do it for that amount of money and our existing considerable HR machine. However, as I think you realize, you cannot put a dollar figure on the revolution we are trying to bring to our leadership training, to our management training and to our HR machine more broadly.
Senator Duffy: Commissioner, just following up on that very point, is any instruction given at the moment at your training depot to new recruits about a respectful workplace and how they should get along with each other?
Mr. Paulson: Yes, there is. In fact, it is a piece of their development through Depot and as they go out into field training and as they go off and begin to assume more and more responsibilities. I am very satisfied with how we are addressing an approach to a respectful workplace with our young, new people. They do not seem to be the lion's share of the problem.
Senator Duffy: As we often see in life, some of this may be a generational thing, so get them early.
One of the differences between the RCMP and the military, which some Canadians may not understand, is that you started out and every other officer in the RCMP started out as a constable and went through the same training. That is unlike the military, which has an officer corps that is trained separately from the enlisted ranks. How do you think that will help you in this important project, in that everyone gets exactly the same training?
Mr. Paulson: It helps me to understand both the perspective of our front line officers and also our middle managers and our senior managers. I feel very fortunate to be able to look to those various perspectives. That said, I recognize that there needs to be a push — and the senator and I have talked about this before — towards our professionalization, or re-professionalization of our officer corps. We are actively engaged in that as we speak.
Senator Duffy: Finally, in relation to morale in the force, how many people, both civilian members and public servants, are we talking about, ballpark?
Mr. Paulson: In total, just a little over 30,000.
Senator Duffy: You are the size of a small city. In P.E.I. it would be a big city. What would be your assessment of the harassment problems in that 30,000 corps compared to the industrial workplace generally? No one wants to minimize this, but I think it is important that for this national institution, which we all hold in highest esteem, the complaints and comments about it are seen in perspective with society. After all, your 30,000 are ordinary Canadians who are trained to do extraordinary things.
Mr. Paulson: Yes, senator, and I will say that our harassment statistics — I have them here and I can dig them out in a second — are comparable, if I can use that term, to those of other police forces. In fact they are lower than some other police forces and comparable to industry, but I think what is at stake is the enormous expectation and pride that Canadians have in the RCMP. When we have episodes of misconduct that have been so very public in recent years, people are disappointed and they expect better. I cannot reason it away. We have to conduct ourselves at a much higher standard, and my officers are up for that.
Senator Mitchell: There was a report in the newspaper not that long ago that outlined, commissioner, that you had started recording and going back and getting stats on problems, and that is excellent. The point was made that a number of these problems had been brought to tribunal and, of those, 35 cases were of sexual assault or assault, 30 officers were deemed to have been impaired on the job or while driving, and 29 Mounties were deemed to have given false or misleading statements. I would like to give you the chance to clarify this because I am sure this is not the kind of message you want to send. It says that you said that 95 per cent are just things where people have made mistakes. That is not the kind of message you would want to send to your force in dealing with these kinds of issues, because clearly sexual assaults and being impaired on the job are not mistakes. They are way past that. Would you like to address that?
Mr. Paulson: I will address what I think I understand you to be asking, but I really do not see what the question is, particularly. If you are asking me if I think that sexual assault, showing up drunk and doing the other things that you have enumerated constitute just mistakes, then you are right and that is not what I meant.
I want to take a second to go back, because I remember making those comments. My members, as I was responding to some of these episodes in the public domain, have been looking to me and saying, "Hey, commissioner, do not lump us all in the same boat as some of these characters. Do not do it. We are doing a Cadillac job, day-in and day-out, busting our guts for Canadians. Stop doing that, commissioner." My point in the 95 per cent number was to illustrate that. By and large, our membership, as evidenced today, does exceptional work for Canadians, and we have been tarred by a few bad apples, as they have been called in the media. I think what this is all about is to try to get tools so that we do not have those things detract and distract from public confidence in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
Senator Mitchell: What would you do in a situation that I just related to earlier? The young woman is not at fault. It has clearly been determined by your processes that she is not at fault. She is the one who has to move. Could you not pick up the phone and say, "No, I will step in and make everyone else move?" Would that not send a powerful message?
Mr. Paulson: Absolutely. What we are trying to say, senator, is that we want to get in front of these workplace conflicts immediately. We do not want to get to the point where we have to go to a disciplinary tribunal because people are not getting along in the workplace. We want supervisors to intervene in the first instance. I want my leaders to know their people and to be accountable for their people.
I think I know the case you are referring to. When you say that she was forced to move, I think the circumstances gave rise to her being forced to move, but I think she agreed and sought a move. I am not taking it out of the
Senator Mitchell: She may not have had any choice.
Mr. Paulson: That is right. I give you that.
Senator Mitchell: Finally, the point that you are making, which is a powerful one, is that this has to go down and people have to learn and you are getting processes in place. I notice that you have a supervisor development program and a manager development program, and those have been mandatory. However, statistics we saw in one report showed that of the 1,872 people who took the supervisory development program, only 699 completed it, and of the 699 who took the manager development program, only 276 completed it. Clearly, that has to answer to harassment.
The Chair: Get to the question. We have three other senators who want to ask questions.
Senator Mitchell: How do you get people to understand that it is important that they take these courses, listen to your orders and listen to your command structure?
Mr. Paulson: I can be brief in the answer. I have addressed that specific concern. I share that concern with you. You start to make promotion dependent on completion of that.
Senator Nolin: I am not sure whether the answer should come from Deputy Minister Guimont or the commissioner, but I would like to explore the relationship between Bill C-42 and Bill C-45 a bit further.
I assume that when Bill C-42 was brought forward, in June 2012, you expected that it would be passed before Bill C-45 and that the whole transition would happen properly.
What was the plan, in June, when you finally received the authorization to introduce Bill C-42? Was the idea to transfer the responsibility for civilian employees to Treasury Board with their existing RCMP rights?
Basically, I would just like to reassure those who are following our proceedings and who started writing us in January. I have been hearing about the matter since January and February of this year; people realize that an unexpected relationship between the two pieces of legislation has emerged and they want to know what is happening with their rights.
What were you planning at the time? I assume it was not to take away any of their rights. I am not sure who out of the two of you would like to answer that.
Mr. Guimont: Who out of the three of us, in fact. Unless Mr. Paulson has the answer, I will turn that over to Mr. Potter.
Mark Potter, Director General, Policing Policy Directorate, Public Safety Canada: As the minister indicated, this is really an employer issue. There is an enabling provision in the bill to allow for the conversion of civilian members to public service employees. The Treasury Board is responsible for that, as the employer. The Treasury Board, I understand from comments I have heard, will be called before this committee. They can give you an update on the process of their analysis related to this conversion. However, in looking at the implications for civilian members and their terms and conditions of employment, they would certainly take into consideration broader government changes with respect to public service pensions. I have no direct knowledge of where they are in that process, but I know it is an ongoing analysis.
Senator Nolin: I understand what Mr. Potter just said. But I would like to know what the initial thinking was. How did you intend to deal with those people? I assume you were not going to take away any of their rights.
Mr. Paulson: No, absolutely not.
Senator Nolin: I would just like you to say that publicly.
Mr. Paulson: I will answer in English.
Senator Nolin: Go ahead.
Mr. Paulson: As has been pointed out, Treasury Board is the employer, and there is a recognition that this transition, if it comes to pass, would require a number of administrative engagements. Our Public Safety staff are working with the Treasury Board Secretariat to identify categories within the public service where they exist or where they do not exist within the public service in describing them, all with a view to being fair. I do not want to go any further than that, because Treasury Board is the employer, but we are working actively now to try to lay out a framework to make this transition as fair and as equitable as possible in the tradition of the Government of Canada.
Senator Day: I would like to go back to the question we were talking about, and I am trying to get clear in my mind this role of delegation to a civilian oversight body. I thought I heard you suggest that this would only be in the case where the activity is a contract that the federal authority has with that province to do contract policing, which would exclude, for example, an airport, which is federal jurisdiction. Therefore, if a serious incident took place in an airport in Vancouver, would we, under this new legislation, anticipate that the commission could delegate to a provincial oversight body, if one existed?
Mr. Paulson: I will ask Mr. Potter to speak to this, because he is more up on it than I am. As I understand, it separates along the lines of criminal investigation of our members, which is a provincial responsibility. The other oversight of our practice, of our behaviours, of our conduct, is another matter, and perhaps I should stop talking.
Mr. Potter: Thank you, senator. I think it is probably helpful to say at the beginning that any particular incident in which a member of the public has an interaction with the RCMP can give rise to three separate but sometimes related processes. There can be a public complaint process, there can be a criminal investigation process, and there can be an internal discipline process. Any one incident can actually give rise to all three of those tracks or those processes being started. I think what you are getting at is the criminal investigation track, and here we are getting at the issue of police investigating police, a key issue in terms of public confidence and public accountability.
In terms of the framework we are building, we are striving to have appropriate checks and balances to ensure independence and impartiality in the nature of those investigations because they are so vital to ensuring public confidence in the RCMP.
We have a three-step hierarchy. If there were an incident, let us say, in British Columbia involving an RCMP member and a member of the public, an alleged assault, in the first instance, the RCMP Commissioner is required to contact the designated authority in the provincial government, within the Attorney General's office, and tell them of the nature of the incident. That provincial official has an obligation to engage the independent police investigation review body. There is a fairly new one in B.C. They are a completely independent civilian-led body, and they will conduct the investigation. That works in B.C., Alberta and Nova Scotia, where there are these existing provincially created bodies that are independent investigative bodies oriented towards investigating police. That is the first step. That gets you your maximum level of independence of an investigating police incident.
If, for example, you are in Saskatchewan and there is not one of these bodies that has been created by the provincial government, you go to the next step on the hierarchy, which is a requirement for the commissioner to engage a separate police force. Let us say it is in rural Saskatchewan; you would ask Saskatoon city police, a completely separate police service, to investigate the matter.
If you are in the Northwest Territories or Nunavut and there are no other municipal police bodies, it may be a requirement, also for operational reasons, for the RCMP to investigate itself. In that instance, you respect the protocols that have been created by the existing Commissioner of Public Complaints, and the RCMP has existing protocols to ensure impartiality.
In addition, we have created another level of accountability for those second and third tiers, so if it is Saskatoon police or if it is the RCMP investigating itself, you can appoint an observer. An independent observer would be appointed by the civilian review and complaints commission, and they would monitor and survey that entire investigation to ensure that it is impartial. If they had any concerns at any point during that investigation, both at the midpoint or at the end, they would share those concerns with the commissioner, they would share them with the Chief of Police of, let us say, the Saskatoon police and they would share them with the head of the civilian review and complaints commission. If those concerns could not be addressed, they would be shared with the Attorney General in that province to take appropriate action to alter that investigation.
There are a number of checks and balances being built into this sensitive area of police investigating police, which deals with the criminal allegation.
Senator Day: You had the commissioner doing what he does if it is a criminal investigation, but then you started referring to the civilian commission getting involved by virtue of not a criminal investigation but a complaint point of view?
Mr. Potter: Exactly.
Senator Day: The policy reason for this, as you have stated a number of times, is that the RCMP should not be a police force investigating itself. We are now creating this independent civilian review and complaints commission, which is independent of the police, but still you are providing for a delegation of authority down to a provincial authority in this instance when you do not really need to for the policy reason that the police force is investigating itself.
Mr. Potter: There are a couple of tracks we are talking about, and it is important to keep them separate just so we ensure that it is fully understood. There is a criminal investigation track. I laid out the three tiers, and the commissioner is well aware of them.
Senator Day: I understand that. The commissioner has an obligation to refer that to the province where the incident took place.
Mr. Potter: Exactly. That is the criminal track. At the same time, you could also have a complaint track. The same Canadian who was involved in that incident not only is part of a criminal investigation process but also launches a complaint, and in the first instance the RCMP would look at it, but if they were not satisfied with the response they got from the RCMP, this independent civilian review and complaints commission, which builds on an existing body — the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP — gives it enhanced powers. That body would conduct the complaint investigation, so you could have two separate tracks.
Senator Day: That body would not delegate that down to the province?
Mr. Potter: No.
Mr. Guimont: Actually, the terminology that was used in the context of the consultation was to give Canadians a no-wrong-door policy. That was the idea. Instead of only having to go to the commission, they could use a provincial body that would then make a referral, but that is for non-criminal types of activities, which was described as needing to be done independently for obvious reasons.
Senator Day: I understand now. That was very helpful. Thank you very much.
Senator Plett: Some concerns have been fairly clearly articulated here by members opposite. What concerns have generally been identified in relation to the RCMP's current discipline process? How does this proposal address those concerns?
Mr. Paulson: There are a number of complaints, and it depends, I guess, on whom you are talking to. You are talking to me, so I will tell you what my complaints are.
Senator Plett: Thank you.
Mr. Paulson: The RCMP discipline process has evolved into a very adversarial system. It is a very legalistic, very adversarial, protracted process and really not helpful in the principle of corrective behaviour. That is arguable; that is my view. Sometimes these things take years to get before a tribunal. The tribunal has to be composed of three officers, one of whom is legally trained. They are taking Charter arguments at these tribunal hearings. It is not really an administrative process that goes to the corrective drive to discipline.
Some of the provisions of Bill C-42 allow for a very streamlined approach to discipline, so a less legalistic, less adversarial, more exploratory and consequently a more efficient effort at getting to the heart of discipline. What is at stake there, of course, is the fairness factor for the members who are affected by these proceedings, so we still propose that there be lines of appeal to some of these decisions where, in the worst cases, people are recommended for dismissal, but there are lines of appeal and so on. That is still contemplated. It is an efficiency and an effectiveness system.
Senator Plett: I will ask another question, and I guess it might be a bit hypothetical. Senator Mitchell clearly referred to a certain situation where a lady had to be moved instead of the other people moving. Would Bill C-42 absolutely prevent that from happening, or would any other process that you can possibly imagine be a 100 per cent safeguard against that happening?
Mr. Paulson: My view is that there is no 100 per cent; there are no guarantees. I think a lot of people have spent a lot of time on this, but this gives us the latitude and the flexibility, either by a commissioner's standing orders or by regulations, to adapt our disciplinary system to the times. It is not perfect, but it is as good as I or anyone else could come up with.
Senator Plett: Thank you very much.
The Chair: I want to thank the witnesses for appearing here today.
I am pleased to welcome back Superintendent Michael O'Rielly, Director, Legislative Reform Initiative, Royal Canadian Mounted Police; and Mark Potter, Director General, Policing Policy Directorate, Public Safety Canada.
Gentlemen, we appreciate your being here to provide a further technical overview of Bill C-42. I understand that you do not have an opening statement, so let us begin with the first round of questions. I will go straight to the deputy chair to lead off with his questions.
Senator Dallaire: I am back into some equivalencies in regard to the disciplinary processes and the oversight of that methodology, that instrument that is being created in Bill C-42 that is more powerful than what it was before, meaning more powerful than the regulations from 1988 and also the commissioner's standing orders.
Does Bill C-42 actually change the standing orders formally? Does he or can he, as the military do, have summary trials or courts martial in that methodology because of Bill C-42, or is he still limited in producing that level of discipline and authority of discipline?
Superintendent Michael O'Rielly, Director, Legislative Reform Initiative, Royal Canadian Mounted Police: Thank you, senator. The idea of the design behind Bill C-42 was to provide for flexibility. Instead of having to rely on the formalized boards and the very judicial form that our internal discipline has taken over the years, Bill C-42 was intended to take us away from that process save for when there is a dismissal, in which case the member would have access to a panel of some form. Outside of those very serious issues where dismissal is being sought, the intention was to have a process whereby a manager, a commander, an NCO, et cetera, would have the ability to deal with an issue immediately.
It would not look like a summary trial, as a summary trial would look like in a military; it would be closely related to what we would see in a public service system, or in a general employment law system, which would be more along the lines of an interaction between a manager and an employee. The intent of the code of conduct system is to hold members of the RCMP accountable for their actions — that is, accountable to the profession, to the RCMP — while at the same time recognizing that overall we are all accountable to the people of Canada.
The intention is to move away from the trial system that we had back in 1873, and right up until 1986 or 1985, when the act was changed last time. We are very much still rooted in our military traditions. Up until 1985, we did have the ability to sentence a member to up to a year in prison. We no longer have that capacity. We have been moving away from our traditional military roots and more into the civilian police world, which is more akin to labour law in general as opposed to that very military system of dealing with discipline. We are trying to come up with a hybrid that would allow us to modernize, apply the concept again of this being between the manager and the employee, a manager and a police officer. That is, let us deal with it. Let us move past the issue. Let us learn from it. Let us correct it and take remedial action, if necessary. Yet if we must be punitive, we need to be able to do that as well, while ensuring procedural fairness. We are trying to find a balance.
Senator Dallaire: I have a culture problem when I look at the red serge, and it is not because I am French Canadian. When I see that red serge I do not see a classic police force. If I wanted to see a classic police force, I do not think it would be dressed like that anymore. It would not have horses or that hat and boots and the whole nine yards. I am looking at a paramilitary structure that has a higher plane of responsibility of policing in our nation. Therefore I cannot stand the term "manager and employee" when talking about this, but there are a whole series of misdemeanours that are essential in establishing an atmosphere of confidence, of respect, an ethos in an organization, and we used to put it all under "conduct unbecoming of." In fact, it was article 119. Under that local commanders could do summary trials on and you could even put people in jail for some of that stuff.
When I still read this, I am not sure that you guys have gone that far in order to ensure that all these misdemeanours that have been created and exploded into some other complex problems are not being eradicated by a more solid disciplinary process.
Am I reading this incorrectly, or have you gone far enough to do that?
Mr. O'Rielly: I believe you are reading it exactly right, senator. The bill itself is a framework, and then the details will be worked out in regulations in commissioner's standing orders, so the answer to your original question of whether this will require a rewrite of the commissioner's standing orders is absolutely. Under the commissioner's standing order we would have that ability to have a member investigated for an allegation or suspicion of a contravention of the code of conduct.
Senator Dallaire: Would that be at a lower level than now?
Mr. O'Rielly: Exactly; right now as a commander I am able to initiate an investigation. However, if I feel that anything more than a reprimand is appropriate given the circumstances then I need to refer it up to a board. The idea is that, as an officer, I would have the ability to implement or apply measures that we will identify underneath, again, in commissioner's standing orders, that allow me to be remedial, corrective or punitive, including up to a fine or suspension of pay and opportunities for corrective teaching. As a commanding officer, we are proposing that at the different levels of command the commanding officer have an unlimited ability to implement a measure but not up to dismissal. Again, dismissal would look like a typical tribunal, save for the fact that the board itself would very much be the master of its own proceedings rather than the way it is right now, which is every step is set out in the act. We are moving away from that and moving into what you see with most adjudicator tribunals, which is the board gets to say this is what we need in order to make a fair and fully informed the decision.
Senator Dallaire: Our punitive used to be considered remedial in our own jails, so you may want to consider that option too.
Mr. O'Rielly: I think it has been the same for us, but it has been a while.
Senator Plett: Thank you, superintendent, for being here. Are there time limits associated with filing a complaint against the RCMP to the new commission?
Mr. O'Rielly: There are. I will turn that over to Mr. Potter.
Mr. Potter: There is a one-year limit; however, the chairperson of the commission has discretion, so if there are valid public interest reasons why it should be greater than a year they can extend it beyond that. The ideal is within a year, because after that the evidence around the complaint becomes less and less fresh.
Senator Plett: At their own discretion could they increase the time?
Mr. Potter: At the discretion of the head of the independent complaints review body, yes, that individual could extend the time beyond a year.
Senator Plett: One of the complaints we have heard in the past is that some of the complainants have not been able to be involved or informed. Will that be improved where the complainants might be informed about disciplinary proceedings arising from the complaints? Will they have an opportunity to have any input in these proceedings?
Mr. Potter: That is a good question. It comes back to those three tracks. There is the criminal investigation track, the public complaints track and the internal discipline tract. There are crosswalks between these tracks. Let us say an individual launches a public complaint against the conduct of an RCMP member. At the same time that gives rise to an internal discipline or code of conduct investigation. In the past there were no links between those two processes, so if I made the public complaint I would have no knowledge of what is happening with this discipline process, which did not seem reasonable. We have now built crosswalks into the legislation that require the RCMP to provide information to the complainant on the discipline process, including the timelines for that and, most important, the opportunity to make representations, to go into that discipline process and say, "This is the incident that happened to me; this is how it has impacted me, and when you make your decision on the discipline of this member it is important that you take that into consideration." They have an opportunity to be part of that discipline process, to be kept informed of its process and be kept informed of the outcome of that discipline process.
Senator Plett: Could you tell us what a "serious incident" is?
Mr. Potter: I will just step back a little bit. There are three aspects when you have that provision kick in. The first is death, which is pretty clear, then there is serious injury and then there is public interest. You are getting at the second part, which is serious injury, so a serious incident has those three components: death, serious injury or public interest.
We are going to define the second component, serious injury, through regulations. We are in the process now of examining various definitions that exist, because in B.C., in Alberta, in Nova Scotia, in Ontario, in other parts of the world, they have defined "serious injury." We are trying to find the appropriate definition, so that will go through a process of scrutiny as we bring forward those regulations, but we have not yet defined what exactly "serious injury" means.
Senator Mitchell: Thank you for the briefing you gave me. It was just excellent. This was several weeks ago and I applaud their professionalism and expertise.
The minister said in his opening comments that one of the things that are covered in this is that it will ensure that the RCMP Commissioner cannot refuse to investigate a complaint initiated by the chairperson of the new commission. However, the RCMP Commissioner can stop an investigation by the new commission if he determines that it runs counter to or across an investigation being done internally. How can we be sure that that will not be misused?
Mr. Potter: I think we are getting at a couple of things here. The first thing to bear in mind is that the vast majority of complaints that the current body deals with and it is expected the future body will deal with are complaints by individuals. I am involved in an incident, I am not happy with the behaviour of the RCMP officer and I make a complaint. That is the vast majority of their work. However, the chair of this independent civilian review and complaints commission has an important authority to launch what is called a chair-initiated complaint. That chair could be keeping abreast of news, what is happening in the country, and decides that they become aware of an incident. For whatever reason the person may not have complained, but they become aware of it and they decide they will launch a chair-initiated complaint. It is the chair himself launching that complaint. In that case the Commissioner of the RCMP is positively obliged to cooperate with that investigation. He could not say he does not want to participate in that. He is required to do that.
The second component is more what you are getting at where there is a regular public complaint that goes forward, the independent commission begins investigating that regular public complaint, and at the same time, recalling those three tracks, a criminal investigation starts on the same matter. In that case the commissioner may be of the view that it would unduly jeopardize or call into question the quality of the criminal investigation if you allowed both processes to continue at the same time. The commissioner in that case can provide written reasons to the chairperson of the independent commission to say, "For these reasons I believe you should pause your complaint investigation and allow the criminal investigation to run its course," which the chair is obliged to do, and the chair, at the end of that criminal process, has the option of resuming the complaint investigation.
Typically, if something is in the criminal realm, the complainant, the person involved in the incident, is much more focused on that criminal side of it, and once there is a resolution there, that is usually their greatest concern.
Senator Mitchell: One issue that has come out over time is this idea that often there appear to be things that were criminal but very few criminal charges are laid. The case of the sergeant who exposed himself is a criminal offence, but he was never charged criminally and he was moved to B.C. once it was determined that he should not have done it. Is there anything in here that will make it more likely that when a member, and let us hope it never happens again, but if it were to happen, does something criminal, that they actually get charged and it does not get worked off into an administrative process and soon he ends up in B.C. to get out of the way?
Mr. Potter: To some extent, this comes back to Senator Plett's question of how you define serious injury. The commissioner would be obliged, because it is provincial administration of justice under the Constitution, to inform the Attorney General of that jurisdiction that an incident took place and that it involved a serious injury, and therefore the three-step process kicks in of the independent police investigation, the separate police force or the RCMP. That must happen, according to the law.
Senator Mitchell: Maybe it was not a serious injury. Maybe it was harassment or a sexual assault of an RCMP officer by another officer.
Mr. Potter: That would be internal, either a code of conduct matter or the RCMP member making a complaint to the provincial Attorney General and dealing with that through that process. That is one member to another, which is not dealt with as directly through the process I have described.
Senator Patterson: Thank you, witnesses. Superintendent O'Rielly, this bill introduces a modernized human resource management framework, as I think it has been described. Could you tell me how that new framework could make the RCMP more efficient?
Mr. O'Rielly: Thank you, senator. We have a series of different means. The first is if we look at something as simple, or what should be as simple, as an internal grievance process, for example. Right now, if someone were to grieve something as simple as a denied meal claim, that process by itself is required to drag through a system that necessitates the provision of written submissions, an exchange of written submissions over time, a very formal way of exchanging information. We did implement a few years back an attempt to seek early resolution opportunities, but we are finding that in some cases the people who are responsible for implementing the early resolution and the griever, by the time the grievance had gone in, the level of — I am not sure how to describe it. In some cases animosity was such that people did not want to talk to one another. Once the system had gone through where it was now into written submissions, then it goes to an adjudicator who has a whole bunch of different files that they are trying to go through. Some of this system takes years. The ability to fast track that or get it back to its basics is one of things that Bill C-42 would allow for.
In addition, we have approximately seven different appeal and grievance systems in the RCMP Act and RCMP Regulations right now. The idea of Bill C-42 is to be able to provide the commissioner with all the authorities necessary to bring all of those different types of appeals and grievances and disputes between the organization and a member and put them into one office so that we have a streamlined process of managing these differences and addressing them in a more rapid fashion.
It is the same thing with something as simple as the promotion of an officer. In the RCMP, you have the non-commissioned officer ranks up to staff sergeant, and then you have the commissioned officer ranks, beginning with inspector and ending with the commissioner. Right now, the commissioner is not able to actually promote any of us into commissioned ranks. In order to achieve a promotion, the commissioner makes a recommendation, but then we need to stand by and wait for the Governor-in-Council to be able to actually make the order-in-council so that we can receive a promotion. In some cases, that can happen very rapidly. In other cases, it can take several months. In the meantime, you sit with no real rank because you are no longer what you were and not quite yet what you are going to be. It causes issues with pension and back pay, and also with your ability to assume your full duties.
Small delays like that, while not significant in and of themselves, are irritating, and it has a certain amount of administrative burden behind it that must be met and respected before the promotion can actually happen. The intention of Bill C-42 is to knock down the administrative walls and get this done in an effective and efficient manner that is fair to everybody.
I could go on. The conduct system is similar in terms of the delays that we achieved through that or realize through that. The commissioner has previously described under the new system the idea that an issue happens, so let us deal with it now, within a couple of weeks or months, rather than waiting three to five years before you get a final outcome. When my children mess up, it is no good for me to wait a couple of years and then go and tell them they should not have done that. When I am a member of the RCMP, if I am trouble, I want to deal with it right away so I can recognize the mistake or deal with it and then move on so it is behind me. Right now, our systems just do not allow that. It is very wearing. Being subject to an internal investigation takes a lot of your thought. A lot of your time is spent wondering what will happen to you.
Senator Patterson: Did I understand you to say that a meal claim dispute had taken years?
Mr. O'Rielly: Yes. We had one example that I was advised about by an adjudicator, no names of course, but he advised me of something that was kind of an irritant with him, where a member had made a claim for a lunch during a course, and it took approximately three years before that was finally settled. It was approximately $10.
Senator Duffy: Witnesses, thank you for coming. On the three to five years of delay, Superintendent O'Rielly, what I hear is that not only do those delays sap the morale of those directly involved, but also there is a spinoff effect on those in their offices who know about it and also have this feeling of frustration that, if they ever become involved, then they will enter a similar morass. Is part of the problem of the continuing competition between the staff relations association, which I understand has the majority of support, and those who want to make labour relations at the RCMP, in other words, to have a union rather than an association, and do we have some people then urging delay and more confrontational techniques because they believe the staff association has not been hard line enough? Is that aggregating this delay problem?
Mr. O'Rielly: Senator, that is a very hard question. I have been part of this process since September 2009. Initially, when I became involved in this, it was very much focused on the labour relation question.
My initial response would be very much that it is actually the structure that we are forced to live with right now. The form of labour relations and representation really would not make that much of a difference, in my opinion. This is just my opinion, of course, based on my experience. You are still faced with having to make these series of written representations. Even if you had an association or a staff relations rep who wants to go forward and resolve this, they are actually not in a position where they can go ahead and make actual representations or speak with the adjudicator or the decision maker. They can try to negotiate, for example, with the respondent and see what they can come up with. That can be successful.
Senator Duffy: This legislation will help in that process?
Mr. O'Rielly: That is the intention of it. Let us get people talking again. If we are in a position where we can negotiate this and resolve it, let us do that. If it is clear we cannot, then let us get it to where someone can make a decision in a timely fashion rather than these undue delays that are caused.
Senator Day: Will the civilian review and complaints commission that is contemplated by this legislation have a separate budget, or will that just be part of the operating budget of the RCMP?
Mr. Potter: It has its own budget. To recall comments by the deputy minister earlier, they have an A base or base budget annually of $5.4 million. Going forward, once implemented, they will have a base budget of $10.4 million, which is an increase of $5 million. That can be a little confusing because in reality over the past several years they have actually had a budget of $8.5 million because they received an additional $2.9 million from the Treasury Board as program integrity funding.
In reality, their budget over the past several years has been about $8.5 million and going forward it will be $10.4 million. The additional monies are for those policy reviews, the observer program, increased outreach and a few smaller areas, but those are the main incremental needs of this new body.
Senator Day: I saw in the legislation that they are charged with outreach and promotion of their activities and an explanation of those activities. I also noted that if the commission decides on its own initiative to conduct a review of the specified activity of the force, one of the tests is that sufficient resources exist. Does that mean it looks to its budget to determine whether it has enough money to do this? Is that what that means?
Mr. Potter: Yes, it would, exactly, senator. There are a couple of conditions. The one you have mentioned would not unduly compromise their main line of business, which is investigating public complaints.
The second is that no other body is currently reviewing the same matter, so you would not want to duplicate a study in the same area. This is a very important new power for the commission, so that is why the government is putting these incremental resources into the commission, so it has the additional monies to be able to conduct policy reviews.
Senator Day: There are a number of places in the legislation that require the commission to set rules and to outline its procedures. This legislation has been around for a while. Has that work been done? Are there now rules that have been generated by the commission that outline its activities, the responsibilities of each of the members and all of those different things that are outlined in this legislation?
Mr. Potter: The current Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP, which is the existing body and which will evolve into the new civilian review and complaints commission, has been quite proactive over the last several years in terms of establishing service standards and turnaround times for the processing of complaints. What we are doing through the legislation is, in a sense, validating the progress they have already made and continuing to require them by law now to have those service standards in place. They have done a very good job, and I am sure you will hear more directly from them about improving efficiencies in the way they process those complaints.
Senator Day: I see that at section 45.37, the service standards and setting out exceptions and why they might not meet the standards, how quickly they would deal with complaints, et cetera. They are likely, then, just to adopt the standards that are already in place?
Mr. Potter: Yes, they have standards in place right now for many aspects. Recognizing that the nature of these complaints can vary considerably — some are very straightforward to investigate, others are much more complex and take much more time — they have put in place service standards, and my understanding is they are constantly reviewing those and seeing how they can continue to become more and more efficient.
Senator Day: Section 45.49 talks about rules. Service standards are in one place and a set of rules is in another place in this legislation. Have they generated the rules yet? That is at page 48 of the bill. It is section 45.49.
It may be that these are the same rules or very similar rules to what already exist for the current body, with some exceptions, because there will be five members now, regional appointments and that kind of thing.
Mr. Potter: I think this very much mirrors some of the powers they have in place now. It is really just the rules around their operations, such as when the commission will sit, the fixing of quorums, how they will deal with matters, procedural rules.
Senator Day: The apportionment of work amongst its members, that kind of thing?
Mr. Potter: Exactly, operating their agency.
Senator Day: Where do I find those rules?
Mr. Potter: I would speak directly to them. I understand they will be appearing here.
Senator Day: That is what we will do. Thank you.
Senator Nolin: Both of you seem to have been around since the conception of Bill C-42, so I wonder how much Justice O'Connor's report of 2006 influenced your work. Give me some examples, and I may have a follow-up question.
Mr. Potter: Thank you very much, senator. That was a key report, and there have been a number of reports. This is an issue that, in fact, the Senate has released reports on RCMP oversight that have been the subject of a number of reports.
Justice O'Connor talked about issues like the degree of access to information, having very broad access to information. You will appreciate that information is the oxygen of investigations, so having the broadest and deepest possible access to information is absolutely vital. That was a key recommendation. There is a reverse onus on access to information now; it will be the commission that will determine the relevancy of information rather than the RCMP.
The new commission will be able to compel documents and testimony. The new commission will have these policy review powers, which Justice O'Connor recommended. Those are some of the areas Justice O'Connor commented on. There are other areas he also commented on, such as inter-agency review, which are not the subject of this bill.
Senator Nolin: It is not?
Mr. Potter: It is not addressed through this bill.
Senator Nolin: However, it is not impossible if the government decides to do so?
Mr. Potter: Exactly.
Senator Nolin: What about the international obligations of Canada, dealing with other countries or foreign agencies? Justice O'Connor, of course because of the Arar report, was quite preoccupied by the openness of the force in doing that. Does Bill C-42 include those kinds of new responsibilities for the new commission?
Mr. Potter: I would answer that, senator, in a couple of different respects. Very much the genesis of this bill is to align the powers of the review body with best practices, both in Canada and internationally, so being aware of what the powers of other review bodies in other countries are.
You are getting at a specific question dealing with information sharing with other jurisdictions. The policy review power that I have referred to that this commission has, which is a new power, would be exactly one area they could look at.
Senator Nolin: Could they look at it from their own decision, or do they need to be asked to do so by the minister or the Governor-in-Council?
Mr. Potter: It can happen both ways. It can be their own initiative, or they could be asked by either a federal or a provincial minister through the federal minister to look at an area like that.
Senator Nolin: Justice O'Connor delivered a very, not strange, but specific sentence when he referred to investigation: ". . . obligations" and "the standards of propriety expected in Canadian society."
That is almost like section 1 of our Charter. Is that the kind of authority the new commission will have on its own?
Mr. Potter: I am not sure this gets at your question, senator, but let me give it a shot. Very much this bill is about continuing the modernization of the RCMP, but a key driver is the evolving values of Canadians.
Senator Nolin: That is exactly what Justice O'Connor referenced.
Mr. Potter: Exactly. The expectations in terms of transparency and accountability are much higher than they were 20 to 25 years ago.
Senator Nolin: They have evolved with time.
Mr. Potter: Exactly. When I talk about best practices, what other bodies are doing to fully respond to those public expectations for transparency and accountability, that is what we are trying to do, to be on the leading edge of the sort of powers you need to have in an oversight body to ensure effective accountability, which ultimately leads to the key goal of public confidence in your police. Without that, you are lost.
Senator Nolin: Thank you.
The Chair: I would like to ask a question. I would like to follow up on Senator Day's line of questioning, which is with respect to putting into effect the regulations and policy directives that will basically be the backbone of this bill.
Could you tell me, for example, about the code of conduct and other items that you are obviously working on with members of the association and maybe other departments as well? How long will it take to put all the policies together and implement them so that when this bill comes into effect, it comes into effect as a package? What timeline are we looking at?
Mr. O'Rielly: For the coming into force of the various human resource management pieces, we are looking at approximately a year, following Royal Assent of the bill, to have all of the processes up — that is, the new rules or the new regulations in place, the policies and the training pieces. As you note, senator, we are already heavily engaged in consultations and also in determining exactly what we need to do to get the most effect in a very short amount of time.
The Chair: When will the code of conduct policy be made public and then promulgated for the purposes of the RCMP? What are your plans on that?
Mr. O'Rielly: Right now we are looking at the code of conduct to determine whether it would be appropriate to modify it or change it up. In terms of timelines, it is hard to say because there is a series of different processes. If it is in fact amended and it goes to the regulatory process, there is publishing and prepublication in the
Canada Gazette. There is also the timing on that. If we combine it with other regulations, that is, if we do one massive regulation, that could impact on timing. I cannot give you an estimated month when it might come out. We are working on it as furiously as we can. I am hoping sooner rather than later, although again that is not very exact.
The Chair: To pursue the code of conduct, my understanding is that you are rewriting it in a totally different manner than what it is at the present time. That is, in a positive direction as opposed to the punitive direction in which it is written at the present time. Is that correct? We will see changes to that, will we not?
Mr. O'Rielly: Yes; that is our intention. At this time, however, it is still strictly at the evaluation stage. We are coming up with a model. We have developed a model that we are now cautiously advancing out into the RCMP to take a look at it and to see, first, if it is workable, if it makes sense. It is very much designed, as you say, around the concept of positive obligations around responsible, ethical, accountable leadership as opposed to more of a "thou shalt not" approach to conduct management.
Senator Dallaire: We have no access to classified material, so as parliamentarians we have no oversight on any of the security or the defence world. We have queried but we have no oversight. I find it interesting that, coming to the right of access to information side of the house, the commissioner can establish certain elements that are not accessible by the commission, which are not clearly defined, unless I have misread; they are sort of vague.
The Chief of the Defence Staff has no authority at all to interfere in information being made available to a court martial; he cannot even come close to the judges in a court martial. How can you argue that, contrary to the Communications Security Establishment Canada, the SIRC, who have extensive classified material, have access to that? Yet, for the RCMP, the commissioner is holding a hammer over some of the material that is not accessible?
Mr. Potter: Senator, you have hit on a key point, which is access to information to be able to conduct a proper complaint investigation. This bill gives very broad access to information, including classified information, up to cabinet confidences. That is the only type of information that is explicitly excluded. The powers that this new body will have very much mirror the SIRC-CSIS relationship in terms of the level of access to information.
In this case we have built a very specific, modern legal model, which has two thresholds. For most information that the independent commission deems to be relevant to the investigation, the RCMP is obliged to provide that information. The commission will simply say I would like this, this and this, and they will be obliged to get that information from the RCMP. That is a change from the way it used to be. In the past it was the RCMP telling the commission what was relevant. That is completely reversed. That is the first key element.
The second, higher threshold relates to privileged information, so solicitor-client, informer, very sensitive operational information. For that there is a somewhat higher threshold. The first threshold is relevant; the second threshold is relevant and necessary. In that case, if the Commissioner of the RCMP, upon the commission's request for certain information of a privileged nature, did not think that was appropriate, then there is this other process, this other check and balance, that kicks in. There is a third party, a retired federal judge, let us say, who will listen to both sides, ask them why the commission wants the information, why it would be relevant and necessary. This third party will have full access to all of the information that is at play and will make an independent, third-party determination, an observation, with respect to whether it is relevant and necessary or not.
This is a means to avoid the two bodies going to Federal Court. Ultimately they could still do that. That would be the next step, but this is very much mirroring what would happen in the Federal Court anyway. You have a retired Federal Court judge giving you their professional opinion on whether that information should be transferred or not. Based on that, the two parties would look at it and that would determine how they proceed next. By and large, it is fully expected that the two parties would respect whatever the observations are coming from that retired individual.
The Chair: Do you have a supplementary, Senator Nolin?
Senator Nolin: Yes; thank you, chair. They still can go to the Federal Court, though. Whatever they have agreed to before, if they are not happy with anything that comes along with that new process, they still can go to the Federal Court and then be heard?
Mr. Potter: Yes.
Senator Nolin: Good. I think it is important to understand that you are adding a new step in the new process but the old system still is in operation.
Mr. Potter: You are exactly right, senator.
The Chair: Supplementary, Senator Day?
Senator Day: To round it out here, I am looking at page 41, where there is a procedure that the commission can go to, if the commissioner refuses to give the privileged information. So to say that they have access all the time to the privileged information, it is subject to the commissioner saying no, and then there is another test that has to be followed.
Mr. Potter: Exactly.
Senator Comeau: That is what can be appealed, I presume, in the new system?
Mr. Potter: Exactly.
Senator Nolin: That decision from the commissioner can be appealed to the Federal Court.
Senator Day: There is a process.
The Chair: Order.
Mr. Potter: Yes.
Senator Nolin: I think it is important that we understand the basics of what is behind this bill.
Senator Day: I agree.
Senator Dallaire: I fully support using this opportunity to establish clarity.
I come back to this new commission because to me it is a fundamental element of this whole new process of rebuilding or giving people that sense of oversight, versus the minister actually creating a completely separate oversight body to, for example, do an oversight on the reform of your whole HR program, development, and so on. He could actually do that, as we went through in the 1990s at National Defence. He is not doing this; he is going to use this outfit of the CRCC to do it. I suspect, by the way he explained it, he was probably going to give them instruction as to what he wants them to sniff into in the implementation of that.
I am trying to look into the selection process of the people going on this body. There are criteria that say they are not allowed to be this and this. How much staff are they going to actually have to do all the old civilian stuff, plus this very extensive engagement in the internal disciplinarian process, including things like reforming the culture and things of that nature? What are you building there?
Mr. Potter: I will start with the selection process for the chair and possibly the vice-chair. There can be up to five chairpersons, one full-time chair and up to four additional vice-chairs, either full-time or part-time.
In terms of the selection of the chair, there are only two criteria. One is they have to be a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident and they cannot be a current or former member of the RCMP. That is pretty limited. Having said that, there is a whole PCO-led appointment process through to the Governor-in-Council, so it goes through that. There will be a job description, a profile, what have you. It will go through that whole process.
Right now there is the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP. They will be able to give you detailed information on their budget and their number of staff and how that might need to evolve given these new powers. Right now, in the Ottawa office, I believe there are around 50 people focused on individual complaints. You rightly note that the policy review power will require additional resources. I would imagine they will require new staff. The additional money they are getting to take them from around $8.5 million to $10.4 million should cover that. Part of their challenge going forward, through their annual reports and reporting through the minister to Parliament, there will be an opportunity for this committee and others to see how that is progressing and to question them on whether they have the right resources to achieve their mandate.
Senator Dallaire: Thank you very much.
Senator Mitchell: You have alluded to the question of budget, as did the minister and the deputy minister, and that was the budget that applies to Bill C-42 and its implications. Are you aware of how much budget is going to be put to the Respectful Workplace Program? Has that been allocated a specific budget of which you are aware?
Mr. O'Rielly: That is a bit out of my realm, so I cannot help you there.
Senator Mitchell: That is a fair comment. It is out of your realm, too?
Mr. Potter: Yes; it is in the HR management side.
Senator Mitchell: Fair enough.
The commissioner indicated he consulted with some police forces about what are the mechanisms of a modern police force. That is not quite the same as consulting about how to change a culture. Therefore my first question would be this: Are you aware of any consultative process that brought in expertise, maybe consulted with the military or brought in people on site? It is huge to change a culture. The commissioner is a great police person I am sure, but this is a huge organization with a budget of $3 billion and 30,000 people. You need some expertise to figure out how to change a culture. Are you aware of any budget for that or any initiative in that regard other than Bill C-42 and respectful workplace?
Mr. Potter: I can speak to the public complaints side of the equation, so I will comment on that. There was a very high level of engagement and consultation. In fact, I have been involved in it directly for five years. There were the various reports by Justice O'Connor and a number of others. There was the Brown task force in 2007. There was a lot of material out there to draw upon to look at how we can strengthen the oversight of the RCMP. Then we looked at the SIRC-CSIS relationship and we looked at the military situation. We looked at other countries and what they have been doing to evolve their review bodies.
Then we had very in-depth discussions with the provinces and territories because, as you know, the RCMP is the provincial or territorial police service in all but Ontario and Quebec. They have a direct interest in ensuring that there is appropriate oversight of the RCMP. We had a number of very detailed discussions, at pretty senior levels, with the provinces and territories about this proposal and ensuring that it met their needs.
Senator Mitchell: One thing that was almost universally pointed out and recommended in the kind of reports you mentioned, such as O'Connor and Brown, was public oversight. The CRCC is not exactly public oversight. It is public oversight of complaints. When the commissioner went to other police forces to find out what is modern about them, one of the most significant and consistent things was the fact that certainly the Edmonton police force and the Calgary police force have very strong public review bodies. In the Edmonton case it has the final word and direct participation in developing the annual plan, the final word and direct participation in developing the budget. I was told that 80 per cent to 90 per cent of it stays the same as what comes from the police chief, but often there are other things in place. If that seems to be such a clear initiative, recommended by so many different bodies over such a long period of time, that it was something that was indigenous to successful police forces across the country, why would it not be included in this initiative?
Mr. Potter: To some degree I think, senator, you are getting at a question that was posed to the minister and that I think he addressed in his opening remarks, which is that between the Brown task force report in December 2007 and today there have been a number of developments with respect to the governance of the RCMP. They have been on a track of internal modernization and leadership development that gives their leaders the capacity to better manage a very complex, challenging organization. That is one part of it.
The minister spoke to the audit committee, which is comprised of three very senior individuals who provide advice to the commissioner on the risk management processes of the RCMP. You now have in place, since April last year, with the provinces and territories that contract for RCMP police services, a much more robust governance framework. It is somewhat akin to almost a co-management relationship, where they are very much involved in any decision of the RCMP that substantially affects the quality and the cost of policing that they provide in their jurisdictions.
You have a number of governance changes that have happened in the past six or seven years that I think continue to facilitate the modernization and strengthening of the RCMP.
Senator Mitchell: With respect to the criteria for appointments to the CRCC, you said they cannot be in the RCMP and they cannot be retired RCMP members. Is there any provision to have a woman?
Mr. Potter: There is no explicit provision. I suspect the PCO processes to appoint the individual look at a whole range of considerations, including that one. I should mention there is an explicit requirement in the act with respect to regional representation, but there is not a specific reference to gender.
Senator Day: It does not define region?
Mr. Potter: No.
Senator Mitchell: Liberal senators and MPs had hearings this morning where we heard from a number of victims. It was very powerful. I will provide you with their testimony. One of the continual themes was that there is a grievance process, but once they get to it they are then singled out and become an outcast and are targeted. The other is that the people who are grieved to are part of the command structure and ultimately their career is based upon what happens when they integrate back into it from this role. There is always a concern that it is not going to be objective and that they go to it and are not necessarily going to be handled fairly. In fact, it will beg the very question, which is that they feel like the young woman who, at the end of all of this, must move and the people who have made it impossible for her to stay do not have to move.
The Chair: Your question, senator?
Senator Mitchell: How can you ensure the objectivity of that grievance process if it remains within the command structure, which it seems to me is what will occur?
Mr. O'Rielly: The investigation of harassment and workplace relations is a very complex situation. One of the main focuses of Bill C-42 and the Respectful Workplace Program that is starting to be developed now nationally with great vigour is let us deal with these issues before they get to that point. Part of what Bill C-42 will offer us is the ability to reset expectations, that it is not acceptable to make a joke that someone else may find offensive, but, more than that, we already have that general understanding throughout society yet it still happens quite a bit.
What we are looking at doing through the code of conduct and through the obligations and responsibilities and accountability of all members of the force, all employees of the force, but certainly the members, is that if you see something that needs to be dealt with, deal with it. If someone is doing something that is offensive, that any reasonable person would construe as offensive, then you have an active obligation to step in and deal with it or, if you see it happen, to report it up to someone who can address it.
Right now there is a requirement for us to report, as members, when we are aware of something that could be a contravention of the code of conduct, but we want to take that one step further and make it an active responsibility.
Senator Mitchell: With respect to the audit provisions, it just seems that we should have a baseline audit, one would think, before we start, to see if improvement is made, and then we should have a plan to audit periodically. The minister has made the commitment that at least every three years, thanks to the chair's initiative in asking that question, the Senate committee would be invoked to do that, which is excellent. It seems to me that internally, if I were running that organization, I would want to know where we were and I would want to have a way of measuring where we are going and how we are getting there. Are you aware of any of that being provided for in this bill or elsewhere?
Mr. O'Rielly: Part of what I am doing with the group that I am responsible for, the legislative reform initiative, is exactly that. It is to go out there and set the baseline data, to take a look at all of the surveys, for example, that have been done, plus surveys that are being done across Canada on a variety of different issues, but certainly harassment, a respectful workplace and what a respectful workplace looks like. That is something we need. One of my responsibilities is to arrive at an IT solution, because right now we have a variety of different systems gathering a variety of different data. We really need to come to ground in terms of being able to track trends and be able to identify issues as they come up so that we can start to focus on how to stop the same issue from happening again and again. That is one of the responsibilities I bear. Certainly something we are doing is figuring out what our baseline data is, seeing where we are with numbers right now to be able to come back and compare it as we move forward to ensure we are actually making a change.
The Chair: Superintendent, could you provide us with that study once it is completed?
Mr. O'Rielly: I can. Again, I am running into when I could possibly do that, because it a living process. Certainly as we move further along our process, by the end of the year, early next year, as we get closer to implementation, I should be in a good position to have more information at that point.
Senator Nolin: As long as it is before the three years. We like to have long memories.
Senator Dallaire: Superintendent, you have been given quite a significant task. I look back at how we handled it. We put in a three-star general to do it. We were asking you when you did your assessment and bringing all the material together and then helping the legal people to put this legislation together. I gather you will then be responsible for overseeing the implementation of this through the regulations and then its actual implementation, so you are in this this for a couple years yet. It is a big job, and I did not ask you if you volunteered for it either.
You look at all the options when you do your assessment. Why do we not just crash all this and let them have a union, as an example. As you were saying, you are trying to bring together different processes. In front of us, can you tell me whether you have enough authority to be able to bring it about? You stand there doing this reform. Have you the responsibility you need to be able to pull in all the recommendations you feel are essential, not necessary, not nice to have, but essential to be able to implement a reform so that, at the end of it, we can actually call it that?
Mr. O'Rielly: That is quite a question. I actually did volunteer for this back in September 2009. It has been an honour to be part of it. The advantage I have had is that it is not up to me. I am the person coordinating, managing and putting it all together. I have the technical expertise to make it happen. Yet, at the same time, I do not have to make all the decisions, because I have the ear of the deputy commissioner in charge of HR and the professional integrity officer and the ear of the commissioner, if need be.
The approach we are taking on this is that this is an RCMP-wide commitment. Every member and employee has to be engaged. Otherwise, we will fall flat on our faces. This is not something that one individual can do. It is way too big for that. With the reforms that came to the forces, it took a huge amount of time and commitment, and that is what we are looking at here as well. We have been at this since 2009. We have learned a lot as we went through the Bill C-43 processes. We have been fortunate to have the support of two commissioners now as well as a series of chief human resources officers. When we need to go to the senior executive to get advice and guidance, it is immediately available. If we need to go to legal services, it is immediately available.
We set up a consultative process, as we did on Bill C-43 and as I intend to do over the next few months, where we go out and speak to the membership, and the return on that effort has been incredible. There has been lots of engagement and interest. It is an organization-wide approach. I just happen to be the one responsible for coordinating it.
Senator Dallaire: Subsequent to this effort, there will an audit of how it went and whether or not you achieved your aim, as we saw the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court do it for DND five years later. In order to respond to that, they created a senior review board, which was mandated to provide advice and direction. Does such a body exist, or is it the commissioner or deputy commissioner? What is your senior body? Is there another one specifically created to give you that direction and to monitor how it is going and provide that audit trail?
Mr. O'Rielly: Right now we are still setting up what exactly we will measure. As we determine what we will measure, we have the departmental audit committee that we keep informed as we are able to start to move forward. We will be able to say, "Back in 2013, this is what it looked like; this was 2012; and now in the 2014 and 2015, there is where we are at." It will take time to get there, but I am confident we have the ability internally with the department audit committee, with the senior executive committee, the commissioner, all the senior advisers, plus we have the commanding officers to turn to, plus we have the member representatives, plus the members themselves. We are all accountable for demonstrating this has actually made a change.
It will take some time to actually see some change. As you have pointed out, Senator Mitchell, and yourself, sir, it is tough to swing. It is tough to make culture change. It is hard to swing an aircraft carrier around in a small harbour, and that is where we are right now. We are still moving forward. We have a good idea where we have been, but we need to clarify where we have been to ensure we can evaluate where we are in the future so we are able to come back and say, "This is where we have made advances, and this is where we have dropped the ball, and this is where we have to improve." We do have internal audit processes established for that as part of this program. As part of this plan, that is indeed a big piece of it. We need to be able to demand that we have moved ahead and made changes.
Senator Dallaire: You raised the possibility of perhaps going back to this within three years, which I consider a very reasonable time frame. I would like to hear your plan of implementation once this legislation is approved. You mentioned that in a year you could have all the courses for a senior officer development program, but that does not mean everyone will have taken the courses.
If you could give us a feel for the exercise, steering could look at it, if that is suitable to the chair.
The Chair: Do you have any comments on that, superintendent?
Mr. O'Rielly: No, I do not. It is definitely
Senator Dallaire: Doable?
Mr. O'Rielly: I think so. I do not see why not.
Senator Dallaire: Good man.
The Chair: I would like to thank our witnesses for being here. We appreciate your presentation and the details you have provided us. It gives us a good foundation for the study of Bill C-42.
(The committee adjourned.)