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Do Albertans trust the RCMP? Kenney says new poll supports provincial police force idea

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Confidence in the RCMP is slipping across Canada and Albertans are the most dissatisfied, according to a new poll released Thursday.

The Angus Reid Institute found that "confidence in" the Mounties fell to 52 per cent last year, down from 67 per cent in 2014.

Half of Albertans have "little or no confidence" in the police service, the lowest of any province.

The new data comes as the future of the Alberta RCMP is in doubt. The organization's contract with the province ends in 2032 and the governing UCP continues to pitch the creation of a provincial force.

"This is one of the reasons that we’ve been reviewing the structure of policing in Alberta," Premier Jason Kenney said Thursday of the survey.

"One advantage of a potential provincial police service would be to have civilian oversight, would be the ability to have our own provincial police commission."

The national average for having "little or no confidence" in the RCMP is 41 per cent. British Columbia sits at 48 per cent and Saskatchewan is at 41 per cent.

The RCMP ranked higher in distrust (44 per cent) in Ontario than the provincial police (38 per cent).

Kenney's push for provincial police in Alberta has proven unpopular with local leaders.

In April, Alberta Municipalities (ABmunis) passed a motion opposing a provincial force.

In March, ABmunis also voted to reject the UCP's plans. They instead suggested a referendum on the issue.

"If it's about improved policing in Alberta, let's figure out the problem and maybe ask the RCMP to address that problem rather than going a whole other route," AM President Mayor Cathy Heron told CTV News Edmonton Wednesday.

She is also the mayor of St. Albert and has been critical of how the province has approached the issue.

"The whole other route is going to lose us $160 million a year in federal grants, and there are so many other questions that are yet to be unanswered," she said.

The union that represents 20,000 RCMP nationwide officers took issue with the survey’s findings altogether, citing different third party polling that shows high public confidence in the service.

"Successive waves of research conducted by Pollara Strategic Insights, in 2020 and 2021, have found over three-quarters (76 per cent) of Canadians are satisfied with the service they receive from RCMP Members. In Alberta, that satisfaction reaches 82 per cent," National Police Federation President Brian Sauvé wrote in a statement.

Results from a new survey on policing and public safety are expected from that group in the coming weeks.

A 2020 report submitted by the province's Fair Deal Panel concluded only 35 per cent of Albertans wanted the RCMP replaced with provincial police.

The Opposition NDP has promised to scrap the provincial police effort and keep the RCMP if they win the 2023 election.

The online survey from Nov. 8-15, 2021 was conducted among a representative randomized sample of 4,000 Canadian adults who are members of Angus Reid Forum. For comparison purposes only, a probability sample of this size would carry a margin of error of +/- 2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Jeremy Thompson

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