I wonder: have our public institutions lost the ability to do an excellent job on, well, anything? Whether it’s eHealth Ontario or Atomic Energy of Canada, Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation or the Quebec government and Quebec police forces vis-à-vis Quebec’s corrupt construction industry, we seem to have massive failures at every turn.
And now we see, once again, that our national security agencies are not up to the job. Commissioner John Major has detailed a litany of high-level failures in the Air India disaster, both before Sikh terrorists bombed Flight 182 and in the tragedy’s aftermath—lax airport security, poor information sharing (sound familiar?), evidence mishandling, government interference and the list goes on.
How many times will the RCMP continue to fail us and be allowed to continue to exist in its present form? And as a reward for past failures, our federal government, apparently, plans to allow this outfit to unionize.
Back in the 1970s the McDonald Commission recommend that the RCMP’s intelligences duties be split off because of crimes and other abuses. This week we have the Commission of Inquiry into the Investigation of the Bombing of Air India Flight 182 telling us we need to put them back together under unified leadership to resolve disputes among CSIS and the RCMP. The Commission also has suggested that the RCMP is not properly structured to deal with terrorism prosecutions, and questions whether it’s time to reassess the practice of the RCMP providing contractual services to the provinces.
What Canadians need to be told is what, if anything, the RCMP does really well anymore. If you read the content of this “Independent Report concerning Workplace Issues at the Royal Canadian Mounted Police” you’ll know that list will likely be short.
We know that an RCMP officer with three years experience is paid a base of about $75,000 a year plus generous allowances and can retire in his or her mid-fifties with a terrific pension—25 years of service gets 50 per cent of recent salary, after 35 years it’s 70 per cent—which is far better than most private sector pensions. Any work beyond a regular 40-hour week is paid at 1.5x the regular rate, and on days off, 2x the regular rate.
As you might expect for any public employee these days, health, dental and other benefits are exceptional when compared to the private sector. The force offers exceptional parental leave—up to 93 per cent of salary for 52 weeks for new mothers, fathers and adoptive parents. And its drug plan covers prescription costs at 100 per cent, its eyewear plan is generous and its paid leave programs are “second to none” according to RCMP Superintendent Mike Gaudet.
I’m beginning to wonder if we are receiving value for our money?