Tuesday, December 15, 2009

 

WAR AND THE RCMP

Here in the American deep south a popular slogan of the pro-life movement claims that..."A Nation That Kills Its Own Children Is A Nation Without Hope". I see it displayed frequently on automobile bumper stickers and wonder how its proponents explain away the deaths of thousands of young American men and women on the War fronts of Iraq and Afghanistan?

Canadians too should perhaps ask the same question of our commitment to the war in Afghanistan. Lest I digress further; I was struck by reports a few weeks back about the most recent recruiting drive for our iconic national police force, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

I reflected once more on the police force's recruiting efforts during the past few days as the news reported that the Commissioner of the RCMP, William Elliott, had been publicly feuding with the Commission For Public Complaints Against the RCMP. It seems that senior officials of the police force are miffed at the chair of the Complaints Commission, Paul Kennedy, for his frank opinions about the use of Tasers on a 15 year-old Inuvik teenager, as well as in relation to the infamous death of Robert Dziekanski at Vancouver's airport in October 2007. It's worth noting for the record that Mr. Kennedy's term as complaints commissioner ends this week. The Harper "Tories" have not renewed his term, nor named a successor.

Back to my story: After years of falling short of its target the RCMP fielded almost 1800 new cadets in 2008-09, which according to the police force is the biggest annual increase in its ranks in 136 years of policing. Commissioner Elliott and his officials have claimed that the surge in recruitment is one of the notable successes of the RCMP reform process launched in 2007 when Elliott's predecessor, Giuliano Zaccardelli, was dumped unceremoniously for lying to a Parliamentary Committee.

Back in 2007 the mismanagement and scandal plagued police force had become a Canadian embarrassment which was described at the time by a government task force on the reform of the RCMP as having a leadership structure that was..."horribly broken." Amen!

While it is certainly good news that our national police force is able to count on powerful new recruiting numbers to swell its internal ranks; me thinks that some of the credit may lie elsewhere than in the RCMP's reform measures, including their $12,000 signing bonus for joining-up...

There are a myriad of reasons; economic, disciplinary and otherwise, while each year a substantial number of young Canadians enroll in our honoured military and para-military institutions. RCMP Commissioner Elliott and his officials may want to take credit for their effective campaign which has so far resulted in a recruitment surge at the RCMP. It may also signal and reflect a shift of attitude in young Canadians who prefer to serve their country on Canadian soil, rather than fear being blown to bits in the military while serving in Afghanistan.

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