With Alberta Justice and Solicitor General officials planning to meet with municipal leaders across the province in coming weeks regarding the possibility of Alberta forming its own police force, many questions remain unanswered about the controversial proposal.
Whether the Kenney government will be able to move forward with the replacement of the RCMP by an Alberta provincial police force before the 2023 provincial election remains anyone’s guess.
What is known is that any claims by Premier Kenney and his ministers that they already have the support of the majority of Albertans to do away with the RCMP is certainly not support by the facts.
For his part, the premier has said he believes an Alberta force would be more accountable to residents while at the same time being no less costly than the current RCMP system. Other UCP MLAs have made the same claims.
During the recent Mountain View County council meeting, reeve Angela Aalbers said the province has an obligation to consult with residents before moving forward on the issue.
“The province should be going directly back to residents,” said Aalbers. “I don’t think they (residents) are being given any information and I don’t think it is (council's) job to do that on behalf of the province.”
Didsbury mayor Rhonda Hunter said: “It is their (province) responsibility to consult with residents. Absolutely we have to have a referendum on this issue.”
Officials with the National Police Federation, which represents RCMP, have been touring the province in recent weeks in support of keeping the Mounties in Alberta.
Alberta Justice officials say a public survey on the issue will soon be conducted. Nevertheless, surveys and consultations with municipal councils are in no way an adequate substitute for a public referendum, as has been promised.
Until the UCP Kenney government can demonstrate unequivocally, through a fairly-worded and conducted referendum, that it has the backing of Albertans to press forward with the creation of an Alberta provincial police force, any such move would be not be acceptable.
Dan Singleton is an editor with the Albertan.