The Alberta NDP has written to municipal leaders across the province to commit that, should we form the next government, we will not proceed with terminating the existing provincial RCMP contract and creating a provincial police force.
We have seen the numerous concerns being raised with the provincial policing model being pursued by the UCP government and we share them. Instead of clarifying information, we have seen a series of misleading statements and outright lies about the initiative from Minister of Justice Tyler Shandro and other members of the UCP cabinet.
On Aug. 17, Minister Shandro dismissed concerns about the costs of the provincial policing model as nothing more than a “red herring” and tried to claim that Alberta has “no civilian oversight of police budgeting right now.” This was false, as the Minister himself can adjust the justice budget and could bring forward a proposal to the provincial Treasury to hire more RCMP officers. This fact was reinforced by comments from Alberta RCMP head Curtis Zablocki who said, “Our budget and staffing levels are determined by the Government of Alberta, the provincial policing priorities are developed with their oversight and approval, and we report on strategic and budget performance measurements on a regular basis.”
It’s troubling that the Minister continues to downplay the costs associated with the provincial policing model, especially as the government’s own report indicates moving to the model would cost Alberta an extra $170 million per year along with approximately $366 million in startup costs. This is a total waste of public money as it won’t help address the crime situation facing our communities
Further, the government’s own “Future of Alberta Policing” webinar, held on Aug. 22, did nothing to alleviate concerns about the costs as former British Columbia Attorney General and Panel Member Wally Oppal stated “I don’t think there’s any kind of guarantee” when asked if the estimated startup costs were final or whether they could rise.
Given the concerns outlined above, the lack of clear answers from the current UCP government, and the growing opposition to the provincial policing model, the Alberta NDP does not support this initiative and we would halt all progress on a provincial policing model. We believe in a different approach that involves consulting broadly and working collaboratively to make real progress in reducing crime, addressing its root causes, and improving community safety.
Irfan Sabir, Alberta NDP Justice Critic and MLA for Calgary-Bhullar-McCall
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