As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact Alberta students, businesses and sports organizations, despite the encouraging progress of the vaccination campaign, the Kenney government has its hands full guiding the province forward.
Ensuring that the pandemic response protects residents now and that the province is well positioned to get back to business once the crisis is over should be the top priority for all government MLAs.
As such, anything that distracts from that top job should be shelved – and that includes the proposal to replace the RCMP with an Alberta Provincial Police Service (APPS).
The UCP government-directed Fair Deal Panel has recommended the creation of the 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.
In recent days many municipalities, including in this region, have come out in opposition to the creation of the APPS, saying making a major change in policing in Alberta any time soon makes no sense, including financially.
In a letter sent to Justice Minister Kaycee Madu on behalf of town council, Town of Didsbury Mayor Rhonda Hunter says having the RCMP as the police force of choice in Alberta continues to be the best option for the community-at-large.
“We believe that working with the RCMP as the Alberta police force of choice is more likely to succeed than setting up yet another entity who will have to be built from scratch, is costing millions to explore, and will cost hundreds of millions more to implement,” said Hunter.
The National Police Federation has launched a campaign aimed at keeping the RCMP in Alberta, with organizers saying a provincial force would cost Alberta taxpayers at least $112 million more a year than they are currently paying.
The proposal to create an APPS should be shelved indefinitely – not only because MLAs should be focused on the COVID-19 crisis but also because the RCMP remains the best policing service for Alberta.
Dan Singleton is an editor with The Albertan