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Commentary: Alberta police force a priority?

Questions loom over whether costly venture justified

When the COVID-19 pandemic is finally over, the provincial government will have a huge job on its hands leading Alberta forward.

Whether ensuring the economy rebounds from a financial disaster that has heavily damaged entire industries, negotiating updated deals with public and private workforces, or supporting municipalities across rural Alberta, the tasks ahead will be massive by any standard.

Whether the government will be able to successfully complete the job of renewal and revitalization remains to be seen.

What is known is that with the next provincial election only two years away, the success or failure of the government over the next few months may determine if the Kenney UCP is a one-term regime or something more.

With a multitude of post-pandemic jobs already pending, whether the government should be moving ahead with the creation of an Alberta police force to replace the RCMP is an open question.

The UCP government-directed Fair Deal Panel has recommended the creation of a provincial police force, saying the Mounties have become bureaucratically inflexible and that smaller rural communities are not receiving adequate staffing in terms of officers on the job.

“Alberta’s government has an obligation to listen to those concerns and explore how a police force designed in Alberta, not Ottawa, would improve the safety and security of Albertans and their property,” said Kaycee Madu, Alberta’s minister of justice and solicitor general.

On the other hand, the National Police Federation has launched a campaign aimed at keeping the RCMP in Alberta.

Campaign officials say a provincial police force would cost Alberta taxpayers at least $112 million more per year than they are currently paying, and that more than 80 per cent of Albertans surveyed support keeping the RCMP.

A recent Albertan online poll found that 64 per cent of respondents do not support forming an Alberta police force.

The question now is whether creating a provincial police force should be one of the top priority post-pandemic jobs the government needs to tackle.

Dan Singleton is an editor with The Albertan.

Dan Singleton

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