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Kenney says rural Alberta would welcome provincial police, promises no extra cost to municipalities


Premier Jason Kenney said an Alberta provincial police force would be welcome in rural areas and it would cost no more to municipalities than RCMP service.

Kenney made the comments in response to a question from media at a press conference on Friday.

According to the premier, there is a “rural crime crisis” plaguing Alberta, citing a deadly confrontation during a break-and-enter in Red Deer County over the August long weekend as one example of rising property and violent crimes in rural areas.

“We’ve seen too many things like this, especially in rural (areas),” he said. “One of the issues is unacceptably long police response times.

“I think we can do better with a community police model. That’s what the city people have. With the municipal police forces in Calgary, Edmonton, Lethbridge, and four other communities.”

Kenney added that he “respects” the work the RCMP do, but said the service lacks a focused mandate, which a provincial police force would offer.

“The RCMP is a huge national complex organization with an unfocused mandate,” he said. “They do everything from highway patrol in rural Alberta to complex national security and cyber crime stuff in Ottawa.”

For Kenney, a provincial police force would provide stability and allow community members from their local regions to serve in those areas.

“I think it would be awesome in principle to have a provincial police force where girls and boys can dream of become a police officer and serving in their community for the rest of their lives, a community that they understand,” he said.

The premier said consultations with community and Indigenous groups about a potential provincial police force would be launched “shortly.”

According to Kenney, other premiers have expressed interest in Alberta’s research into creating a provincial police force and that if Alberta were to create one, it would be part of a “trend” in Canada. He gave the example of the city of Surrey, B.C., moving to create its own police force as opposed to relying on RCMP service.


The comments were criticized by the National Police Federation, which represents RCMP members across the country, as unrealistic and manipulative. 

"I'll be honest, I felt the comments were a little out of line and inappropriate for the situation, to politicize a tragedy, not only for the deceased but also fro the family that went through that," NPF regional director Kevin Halwa told CTV News. 

He said a 10-minute response time is "especially" fast for rural areas, and likened emergency response times to pizza and Amazon delivery: the further away a person lives, the longer it takes for police to get there. 

"To suggest that the RCM P members that responded to this particular call did less than a professional job is insulting towards those members and to suggest that a provincial police service would be able to do any better is, well it lacks facts and it lacks any real insight as to why or how that possibly could be."

According to the federation, Kenney's claims there has been an increase in crime are also false. The group says previous RCMP initiatives, including Project Lock-Up, resulted in the number of break-and-enters to be down by 17 per cent, motor vehicle thefts down by nearly 20 per cent, and repeated property crimes decreased more than 55 per cent in 2020.

The federation said a combination of stronger legislation and social supports would do more to solve rural crime in Alberta than a new provincial police force.

Alberta commissioned PricewaterhouseCoopers to complete an independent study to help decide if the RCMP should be replaced with a provincial police force. That study was to be completed by April 30, 2021. The report has not been made public.

NPF says in its own surveying, its found 80 per cent of Albertans who are served by RCMP are happy with the service they received.

The group called for all studies commissioned by the province to be released.


Kenney said that many municipalities have said they would be concerned how much a provincial police force would cost.

“We’re going to guarantee them that this model would not cost them one cent more.”

The premier offered no specifics as to how the province would achieve that goal.

“The work is ongoing,” he added. “We haven’t made final decisions.”

Alberta currently shares the cost for its RCMP service in a 70-30 split with the federal government. The province pays $262.4 million annually, with Ottawa paying $112.4 million.

Halwa believes the extra policing cost will fall on taxpayers' shoulders if Alberta moves to a provincial service. 

"Unless he's got a money tree hanging up there in the dome of the parliament, I can't see it happening."

In December 2019, the United Conservative Party government changed the funding relationship the province had with municipalities when it comes to policing. Previously, municipalities did not pay anything for policing costs.

There has been no decision as to if the proposal of creating a provincial police force would go to referendum, Kenney said.

Irfan Sabir, NDP justice critic, said in a statement that the government needs to provide Albertans with evidence to support the costs of creating a provincial police.

“The UCP has yet to show Albertans any proof that this half-baked idea will lead to better policing and stronger community safety for Albertans,” Sabir said. “In fact, it’s this UCP government that has already cut tens of millions of dollars from police budgets across the province.

“Albertans want safer communities not a further downloading of costs onto them,” Sabir added. Top Stories

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