Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee. I am very glad to greet all of you today on the traditional territory of the Algonquin people and for the specific purpose of introducing to you and to Parliament Ms. Brenda Lucki, the new and 24th commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
The announced Ms. Lucki's selection as commissioner designate back in March, following an extensive and professional search to find a successor to Bob Paulson, who retired last summer. As the baton or, as one might say more appropriately in the Mounties, the guidon is passed to Commissioner Lucki, I want to express Canada's appreciation to former commissioner Paulson for his years of service. I also want to thank Dan Dubeau, former Acting Commissioner, who very professionally took charge of the top leadership role in the force while the search process was completed.
Former New Brunswick Premier and former Canadian ambassador to the United States, the Honourable Frank McKenna, chaired that process. It was high calibre, independent, and non-partisan, generating an impressive list of strong and well-qualified individuals for the government's consideration.
For the record, the McKenna search committee consisted of former acting RCMP Commissioner Beverley Busson; former Deputy Commissioner Marianne Ryan; Lac La Ronge first nation Chief Tammy Cook-Searson; former Winnipeg police Chief Devon Clunis; prominent labour leader Barbara Byers; workplace standards expert and adjudicator Manuelle Oudar; National Security and Intelligence Adviser Daniel Jean; Public Safety Deputy Minister Malcolm Brown; and, Status of Women Deputy Minister Gina Wilson.
They worked diligently and produced a very strong set of recommendations for my consideration and then ultimately a decision by the . I want to thank the committee for their excellent efforts and results.
Commissioner Lucki began her new duties on April 16 as the first female permanent commanding officer of the RCMP. In this role, she will lead one of Canada's oldest, most prestigious, and most important institutions. A recognized Canadian icon, the roots of the RCMP stretch back to the original Dominion Police Force in 1868 and the North-West Mounted Police founded in May 1873.
Brenda Lucki brings with her a wealth of front-line experience and expertise in keeping communities safe and secure, and a long and distinguished career as a proven leader in RCMP divisions all across the country. Her work has also extended to the United Nations in the former Yugoslavia, and in Haiti, where she helped train and select police units for the UN civilian police mission.
Most recently, she has served as commanding officer of Depot Division, the RCMP's training academy in Regina. This is highly relevant, because the recruitment, training, and retention of highly qualified police officers and civilians who reflect the rich diversity of Canada, the best ethical standards, and the most modern skills will be vital for the future of the force.
The new commissioner obviously has a lot on her plate. To be clear about the government's objectives, for the first time in history we have made public the mandate letter given to Commissioner Lucki. It is now available to all Canadians online.
We are looking to the commissioner to reinforce the very best of the RCMP while she also leads the organization through a period of transformational change that will modernize and reform its culture. This will involve fundamental issues related to structure, governance, and human resource policies; a comprehensive response to the recent reviews done by Sheila Fraser and the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission; an ongoing assessment of operational priorities and the allocation of resources; and, the arrival of a brand new collective bargaining system.
One critical priority is a safe and healthy workplace. Promoting gender equity, confronting long-standing issues like harassment and bullying, and responding to PTSI and other mental health issues will all continue to be of urgent importance, and the same must be said for the RCMP's leadership role in advancing reconciliation with indigenous peoples.
The mandate letter touches on all of these priorities and a number of other things too.
The goal is effective policing that succeeds in keeping Canadians safe, while safeguarding their rights and freedoms in a manner befitting a Canadian icon that earns and enjoys the trust, the confidence, and the enthusiastic support of the people they serve. To be clear, the commissioner herself has the control and management of the RCMP and all matters connected to the force. The mandate letter does not in any way impinge on the RCMP's essential independence.
I look forward to a productive and collaborative working relationship with Commissioner Lucki. Her leadership and strategic advice will be critical to the public safety and national security policies and actions of the Government of Canada.
Commissioner, welcome, and congratulations. The floor is yours.
Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman and committee members. I was told this was the friendliest committee, so I'm happy to start off here.
I would like to express, first of all, how sorry I was to hear about the sudden loss of your colleague and your friend, MP Gord Brown. On behalf of everyone in the RCMP, I'd like to extend my sincerest condolences.
I have truly been given a gift. It's the opportunity to lead my organization to a bright and new future. With three weeks under my belt as the new commissioner, and armed with a mandate letter outlining those opportunities and expectations for the RCMP, my sleeves are rolled up and I'm ready for the task at hand.
I would like to talk to you today about what I see as three central elements of our way forward: people, community and the opportunities and challenges on the road to our 150th anniversary.
An organization is truly the sum of its people. The RCMP of today is made up of almost 30,000 individuals who joined Canada's national police service to make a difference in their communities. Over 18,000 of those are called upon to put themselves in harm's way, and yet another 12,000 work tirelessly behind the scenes to support them and make our front-line operations possible.
Canada is a diverse and evolving society made up of people from many different backgrounds with the same aspiration for peace and prosperity. I want all Canadians to see themselves in the RCMP—a modern RCMP. We are most effective when we are reflective of our community.
Diversity in our workforce not only keeps us relevant and in tune with Canadians, it gives us a diversity of skills and experiences that help us to advance and innovate.
As inclusion leads us to broader perspectives, respect must also be front and centre, both respect for each other and respect for each and every group and individual we interact with. By acting honourably, professionally, and compassionately without letting biases or assumptions cloud our judgment, we will in return earn the respect of our colleagues and those we serve.
Respect, of course, leaves no room for harassment. I cannot and I will not accept this kind of behaviour and will do everything in my power to address it. We will get at the root causes of bullying, discrimination, and harassment wherever it exists, and we will continue to build our programs to identify, eliminate, and prevent this corrosive behaviour from undermining the important work that we do.
Respect thrives where people are healthy. Over the past several years, we have launched many new programs and services aimed at supporting the health and well-being of our employees.
As part of our mental health strategy, we will continue to roll out readiness training, peer support networks, and employee assistance services that will grow and evolve. We recently introduced a disability management and accommodation program to support our injured members' recovery. It is extremely important that we get our members back to work as valued and productive employees of the RCMP as soon as possible.
Finally, our RCMP requires ethical leadership to support and empower our employees so they can go above and beyond in their work. These important steps forward only happen when every single leader at every level models the attitudes and behaviours we expect of those around us. We will develop these leaders, encourage those who demonstrate what we value, and support them with modern and accountable governance structures.
My second area of focus is the communities we serve from coast to coast to coast. The concerns of rural Canadians have been prominent in recent years. Technology and accessibility bring more issues that were once considered big city problems to our rural areas. Communities that were once insulated from some of these threats are now struggling to cope with the impacts of rising crime rates, potent and dangerous drugs, and the impact of fraud, Internet-based fraud, and exploitation.
We have responded, and will continue to respond, with innovation to better protect our citizens and our employees. Recent examples include new techniques for safely training police dogs to detect fentanyl and other dangerous substances, issuing naloxone to front-line members, and new cybercrime strategies.
We also work day to day with the most vulnerable people in our communities. Our first responders are called upon to deal with complex situations where mental health, poverty, addiction, and domestic violence call for extraordinary judgment and restraint.
We will continue to modernize the training our members receive to deal with these often volatile situations, and we look to our partners in the health sector and other areas to build a stronger network to respond to these critical needs.
For many years during my service, I have worked with indigenous communities and know first-hand the value and the importance of reconciliation with our first nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples.
The RCMP has worked with and among indigenous people for its entire history. We have been partners and helpers; however, we must also acknowledge the role we played in some of the darker periods.
We will continue to work to understand and appreciate the complex and important relationship between indigenous communities and Canadians, and use that understanding to increase the trust in order to serve the needs of all with fairness and respect.
My philosophy is simple: make every community better than what it was when you got there.
Across the country, thousands of our employees do exactly that by responding to calls for help, by solving crimes, by engaging with young people in our hockey rinks and in our schools.
When we get to know the community in which we work and come to understand each other, we can start to build trust. We will continue to be a presence that Canadians can turn to for help with the confidence that we will be fair, transparent, and accountable.
To meet the needs and expectations of Canadians, we need to be a modern and agile police service, capable of adapting quickly to an ever-changing policing environment.
As our society changes, Canadians are presented with ever wider career options. Policing is not for everyone, so the challenge of recruiting and training people with the right aptitudes and outlook is a growing one. We must address vacancies and grow our numbers to meet the needs of our communities, and address the pressures on our employees.
These pressures also include a pay and benefits package. I look forward to working on these issues and others with new bargaining agents, who will be active advocates for our members and employees.
In order to tell this story, we must continue to develop business intelligence systems and analytics, so we can clearly demonstrate the impact we are having on the safety of our communities. Using yesterday's technology is just not an option.
Since becoming commissioner just a few short weeks ago, I have gained an even broader perspective on the scope and complexity of our institution. The more I learn, the more I see the potential to build upon our strengths to make positive change, and I see many opportunities to earn the trust and respect of Canadians.
I believe it is important to honour and learn from our past while modernizing for the future. I am really excited for the work ahead with our employees, our partners, our communities, and yourselves as we travel the road together to 150.
Thank you, and I welcome your questions.
That is a difficult question.
I see a co-responsibility in the sense that, from the RCMP perspective, we have to ensure that we have the right numbers at each detachment, and we have to start looking at other ways of doing business because there's a lot of time spent that's not on the road.
We have to look at creative ways of increasing the visibility in that community while still ensuring that we have the accountability on the paperwork side with regard to all the various reports that we have to do. Look at how complex things are. I look at an impaired driving investigation in 1994 and an impaired driving investigation today. It's apples and rocks. It's not even in the same fruit family.
It's very complicated and very long, and as things have evolved, I think the numbers haven't evolved. The other thing that I see when I say it's “co-responsibility”—and I'm not at all putting the responsibility on the residents—is that when we deal with rural crime, often things are moving into rural areas and we don't even see it coming. The people in the community still have the mentality of not locking their doors or not locking their vehicles.
I know, myself, because I was a victim in Grande Prairie. I was devastated. My nephew's car was broken into. It was a crime of opportunity because he didn't lock his car. He thought that since he was in rural Alberta, he didn't need to lock his car. He lost everything inside his car. I was really mad and felt vulnerable, so I can only imagine what the people in the communities feel. However, I think we have to work together. There are rural crime watches that work very well in certain communities, so I think that approach of working together might help, as well as looking at numbers to make sure we have adequate resources in those places.
She told me not to wear it on my head.
Voices: Oh, oh!
D/Commr Kevin Brosseau: Good afternoon, and thank you for that question.
Mr. Chair, the series of reports on unfounded cases by Ms. Doolittle was very impactful for our organization, as with many policing organizations around the country.
In advance of that report being released, we started the review. With regard to the retrospective review of historical cases, as you mentioned, it was to see what went wrong, what happened. We reviewed thousands of cases to determine where the gaps were. Was it a training issue? Was it a supervision issue? What was it that was going on?
In fact, we found that it was elements of each. We've produced a report, which I'm happy to make available to the committee, that identifies the pathway forward: enhanced training, including trauma-informed training for our employees, and making that available for all members, no matter where they are, and making it relatively easy for them to access it. Given the geography of our organization, sometimes that's difficult to do. As well, there is the oversight, making sure there's proper governance and oversight across the board, and supervisors, etc., to ensure that if a sexual assault complaint comes in, how that in fact will be handled.
The other part I thought was interesting was the third party reporting and partnering with sexual assault victim advocates or centres, to give victims of sexual assault another opportunity to report. They're not ready, but they can come to the police when in fact they're ready. There's still that opportunity to have someone hear what happened to them.
We know that sexual assaults are under-reported, dramatically under-reported around the country. We were looking for ways to ensure—and it goes back to the commissioner's points around increasing and enhancing trust; it's the trust issue—that when a victim of sexual assault comes to the police, they'll be treated seriously, taken seriously, and their investigation will be handled appropriately and thoroughly.