Ladies and gentlemen, I call this meeting to order.
Again, I apologize to our witnesses for the interruptions, but both of you being sophisticated witnesses, you will know exactly what's going on here.
Colleagues, the likelihood is that we'll be interrupted again.
I propose to run the meeting to the next set of bells. Either at that time, or a little later if there's some interest in carrying on past the bells with unanimous consent, or before we all adjourn, I propose that we then move the motion as to whether we refer it back to the finance committee with or without recommendations or amendments.
With that, I think we will start and ask the officials for their opening statements. We'll watch the clock and hopefully get through some of the testimony and questions and answers.
Mr. Koops, are you going first?
Good afternoon. I'm Randall Koops, the director general of policing and firearms policy at Public Safety Canada.
I am accompanied by Jacques Talbot. He is a lawyer and legal counsel for the Department of Justice.
We're happy to appear today to assist the committee in its examination of division 10 of part 4 of Bill . This bill would make amendments to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act to establish in law a new management advisory board to advise the commissioner of the RCMP on the administration and management of the force.
The bill sets out the Board's mandate, composition, administration, and other requirements.
In January 2019, the government accepted the recommendations contained in two reports on harassment at the RCMP: one from the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP, or CRCC, and the other from the former Auditor General of Canada, Sheila Fraser.
These reports, as others have before them, identified governance change as a necessary part of stamping out harassment within the ranks of the RCMP.
The government agreed and committed to establishing a management advisory board to guide the RCMP transformation agenda, which proposes major points of intervention for the government to reshape the foundations of the RCMP and orient it towards better long-term outcomes.
The proposed management advisory board would support the Commissioner of the RCMP in accomplishing her mandate commitment to lead the force through a period of transformation, to modernize it, and to reform its culture; in ensuring the sound overall management of the RCMP; in protecting the health and safety of RCMP employees; and in making sure that the RCMP delivers high-quality police services based on appropriate priorities, to keep Canadians safe and protect their civil liberties.
The mandate of the board would be to advise the commissioner of the RCMP on the force's administration and management, including its human resources, management controls, corporate planning and budgets. The composition of the management advisory board would be up to 13 members, including a chairperson and a vice-chairperson appointed by the Governor in Council on a part-time basis for a period of no more than four years.
In selecting these members, the government has indicated that it will consider regional and gender diversity, reconciliation with indigenous peoples, and executive management skills, experiences and competencies, for example, human resources and labour relations, information technology, change management and innovation. The bill would permit the minister to consult provincial and territorial governments that have contracted the services of the RCMP about these appointments. Also, the bill sets out the grounds of ineligibility, most importantly to avoid real, potential or apparent conflicts of interest for board members.
Regarding its operations, the management advisory board would be able to set its own priorities, work plans, and procedures. The Deputy Minister of Public Safety Canada and the Commissioner of the RCMP may attend all board meetings as observers, but will not vote.
To make certain that the board is able to advise on anything in its mandate, the RCMP will be obliged to provide the board with information it considers necessary. In addition, the board would be able to share with the minister any advice given to the commissioner.
Most importantly, under this legislation the establishment of the management advisory board would not change the existing roles, responsibilities or accountabilities of the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, who will remain accountable to Parliament for the RCMP and retain the authority to direct the commissioner and to establish strategic priorities for the RCMP; of the commissioner of the RCMP, who will retain control and management of the force; nor of the existing RCMP review bodies and existing national security review bodies whose mandates will remain unchanged. Neither will it change the responsibilities of the Treasury Board, which will remain the RCMP's employer.
Bill , which was assented to in 2017, provided for the unionization of RCMP members and reservists. This process is now under way. In , Parliament has reaffirmed the Treasury Board as the force's employer and nothing in these amendments revisits Parliament's decision or disrupts those relationships.
The proposed legislation fully respects a fundamental principle of Canadian policing, which is that police independence underpins the rule of law. The board will not, in any way, impinge upon the independence of RCMP policing operations. It will not be authorized to ask for information that might hinder or compromise an investigation or a prosecution and personal information and cabinet confidences are also out of bounds.
Assuming the bill receives royal assent, the amendments will become effective on a date prescribed by the Governor in Council.
However, if the government creates an interim board in the meantime using its existing authorities under the Public Service Employment Act, then a transitional provision included here in Bill would continue the tenure of those appointments under the new provisions in the RCMP Act.
In conclusion, the commissioner of the RCMP has said that the creation of a management advisory board is a critical step to help modernize and support a diverse, healthy and effective RCMP. Bill would make that role permanent to support the current commissioner in her mandate commitment to lead the RCMP through a period of transformation and to support future commissioners in maintaining a force that is trusted by Canadians for its policing excellence.
We would be happy to respond to any questions the committee may have.
On the first point, the government of the day would be open to selecting board members that it felt responded to the current needs of the board, given the kind of experience that was necessary to help the commissioner.
For your example of police experience, I think the has said that the government would look for some measure of police experience on the board, but it should probably be broader than just former police officers.
You will note that in the bill there is a provision that current members of the RCMP are ineligible, as are employees of provincial or municipal governments, so it will not be a board of serving police officers.
The board is free to provide advice to the commissioner in the form that it best sees fit. How they do that would be open to discussion between the board and the commissioner.
The deputy minister of public safety will serve as an ex officio member of the board and, in that sense, the is represented at the board, even when the minister is not present at the board.
Thank you for being here today.
We know that there's a lot of oversight already with the RCMP, a lot of committees that they're involved in—the oversight committee, the review committee, their management committee, their committees related to security.
The challenges they face, as we know, are significant. It's unclear to me, and maybe to Canadians as well, how this new management committee is going to address those issues that face the RCMP.
One of the issues that I get in my riding is about being understaffed. I don't understand this—and I'm sure Canadians are going to be asking. How can the solution to the issues—severely understaffed rural detachments, poor communication, the lack of equipment, the internal harassment complaints that we continue to see repeatedly and the cultural challenges that they continue to face—be addressed by developing an advisory committee?
How do we see those issues being resolved with this new advisory committee?
Ms. Sahota has three or four suggested amendments, since we're not amending a bill as such.
We have 19 minutes. I propose that we run this for five minutes, because the whip will have a heart attack if we don't leave within 15 minutes. Lock him up and we don't have a problem.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
The Chair: We'll run until 4:55.
Ms. Sahota has presented these amendments, but they're not in both official languages, so I can't distribute them. I'm going to have to have you read them into the record and make your arguments as to why you think these should be considered as suggested amendments.
This piece of legislation is really appreciated. The spirit of it is exactly what is appropriate. I just think it's a little vague.
I understand that perhaps that's been done so that the board will have the ability and flexibility to act differently when addressing different issues. However, I think some of the core things, which you mentioned in your opening remarks....
I'll just read out my proposals and then I'll explain them:
The Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security recommends that the Standing Committee on Finance consider amending Division 10 on the Budget Implementation Act to:
1. Require full reports prepared by the Management Advisory Board, per 45.18 (3), to be automatically provided to the Minister;
In the legislation, it says that they “may” provide them, so this is more of a “shall”. I know that the minister receives a lot of reports, but I think it's important, especially if it's an official report, for him or her to be seized of the issue moving forward. That's been recommended. I further propose:
2. encourage diverse representation on future iterations of the Management Advisory Board, including but not limited to women, Indigenous persons, persons with disabilities, members of the LGBTQ+ community and members of visible minorities; and
3. require that Gender-Based Analysis+, or any future program that may reasonably be viewed as its successor, be incorporated into the Management Advisory Board's work.
Number four is on the fly. After our discussion today, I'm thinking that the mandate of the advisory board lacks any specific mention of harassment and cultural change. I think that should be encompassed in proposed paragraph 45.18(2)(a) of the mandate, but it's very vague. I would recommend that the finance committee figure out what language they want to use, but specifically mention that is the transformation or a part of the modernization plans.
Although you've mentioned in your introductory remarks that they are trying to achieve regional diversity—all of those different things—it's not actually stated in the legislation. This government may intend to make appointments based on that—or the council—but that might not be the case in the future. I think putting that language in would make the person who needs to make appointments aware that he or she must make sure that the board comprises all of those factors.
I haven't listed if there needs to any kind of mandated specific.... What's the word I'm looking for?