Raymond John SKELLY

SKELLY, Raymond John, B.A.

Personal Data

Party
New Democratic Party
Constituency
North Island--Powell River (British Columbia)
Birth Date
July 1, 1941
Website
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ray_Skelly
PARLINFO
http://www.parl.gc.ca/parlinfo/Files/Parliamentarian.aspx?Item=0662e97c-31c7-492e-ba34-622d26c31084&Language=E&Section=ALL
Profession
teacher

Parliamentary Career

May 22, 1979 - December 14, 1979
NDP
  Comox--Powell River (British Columbia)
February 18, 1980 - July 9, 1984
NDP
  Comox--Powell River (British Columbia)
September 4, 1984 - October 1, 1988
NDP
  Comox--Powell River (British Columbia)
November 21, 1988 - September 8, 1993
NDP
  North Island--Powell River (British Columbia)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 6 of 354)


February 25, 1993

Mr. Raymond Skelly (North Island-Powell River):

wonder if the government is contemplating a statement in this House by the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans on the aboriginal fisheries strategy, which has become an extremely important issue on the coast of British Columbia. With the adjournments that are planned in the House it looks like there will be no opportunity to provide a debate on an extremely important issue to aboriginal people in British Columbia and to all those involved and dependent on that fishery.

I wonder if this has come up on the government agenda and whether it might be possible to have the minister make a statement on progress on the work on the aboriginal fisheries strategy.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
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February 25, 1993

Mr. Raymond Skelly (North Island-Powell River):

Mr. Speaker, I too take pleasure in having an opportunity to add a few comments to the record about the treatment of the Public Service of Canada.

I am concerned about the fact that both the present Conservative government and the previous Liberal government have treated that Public Service very badly. The morale in the Public Service is extremely bad in many areas because of that treatment. I think the dedication and commitment is there, but certainly uncertainty and difficulties have come up.

We can start with pointing out in one area the kind of betrayals that have occurred with the Liberal Party and the absolute classic betrayal of Pierre Elliot Tbudeau who during the 1974 election promised Canadians, the workers of the Public Service and all workers that there would be no wage and price controls, that the order of the day would be fair collective bargaining. He did that while campaigning against Robert Stanfield.

To the credit of the Conservative Party, it may not be palatable and certainly Robert Stanfield went to the sword for his sins, but the Conservatives stood up and said exactly what they believed in. The Canadian people responded accordingly, as we do in a democracy. They believed the Liberals. I think by 1975 they clearly regretted that decision.

The government of the day was so extremely unpopular it was forced to go a full five years right to the end of its mandate before it lost to the Clark government. It did so by betraying people I think principally on that six and five issue. You cannot trust Liberals.

The Public Service of Canada has learned that today and it has learned it through the years. The Liberals prior to an election will tell you anything you want to hear. Ultimately when the day draws near, when the election is over, those promises on the election platform are betrayed.

The Liberal Party also began the process of cuts to the Public Service. Prior to making the cuts in the Public Service the Liberal Party adopted a process by which it criticized the Public Service first. The Liberals thought it would be much easier and they could gain public support. This was again during that period from 1974 to 1979 when they began a process of saying the cost of government was too high. They believed Stanfield's lines.

Government Orders

The Conservatives and the Liberals simply believed what the Conservatives had said and then they tried to convince the public of the fat and the inefficiency of the Public Service. Nothing could be further from the truth. They began the process which we see today with the cuts to the Public Service, attempts to convince the public that these are legitimate because the Public Service is inefficient and the private sector is much better. That is nonsense.

Through the years we have had tremendous loyalty and great service to the people of Canada, commitment and dedication from that Public Service and it has been very badly handled by both the Liberal and the Conservative governments, right to the point of the bill before us today.

The process of the cutbacks has been so deep and so devastating at this point in time that the uncertainty and difficulty in carrying out the tasks within the Public Service create a great demoralization.

Labour relations in the post office are catastrophic. There is systematic harassment by management. Thousands and thousands of grievances are dragged out on to arbitration. The privatization process is throwing people who are making reasonably good wages out of work and replacing them with the low wage category of workers on contract.

It is interesting how in many cases the Public Service and the labour legislation that protects them has seen this take place. Incidents from some of the employees within the post office who are very apprehensive about the security of the mail are saying that low wage contract workers have been given keys and access to a security system. Regular employees have been laid off and moved out. This has created an enormous problem.

I mentioned before the case of the Transport Canada employees on the west coast, the Canadian Coast Guard. We had a situation with light keepers on the coast of British Columbia, a tremendously dedicated group of people, who work in isolation, whose sole purpose is the protection of the travelling public and of mariners and aviators on the coast of British Columbia. That group owes a great deal to these people.

In two enormous battles, first with the Liberal government and then with the Conservative government on the destaffing of these light stations, automating them, turning those people out, those battles were won. There

seemed to be a political commitment that they would not in fact destaff the lighthouses. That is what the political end from the minister's office indicated.

Yet at the same time the operations side of it is completely replacing the equipment in the lighthouse system so that they will have in place the ability to destaff these lighthouses.

Can you imagine being an employee working within the bargaining process and the grievance process and having an absolute betrayal of commitments that are being made?

The interesting thing is the political decision not to destaff them. Yet on the other side of the coin they are preparing for destaffing. They are talking about technological changes so they can destaff. Equipment is being upgraded for automation, changing air horns to electric horns on the light stations. They are changing to a new type of light that is tremendously expensive to taxpayers and will facilitate automation. They are talking about reworking the radio system so that it can transmit automatic data from lighthouses.

Information has been dropped from the continuous marine broadcast reports. The barometric pressure has been dropped from the manned lighthouse stations but not from the automated ones. As you move forward on the issue the government has given a political statement that lighthouses will not be destaffed. Yet an enormous amount of taxpayers' money is being spent to put this process in place. Imagine how your employees are going to feel, or would feel, with that kind of betrayal.

There is another thing with the Public Service on the coast of British Columbia. There is a certain pride in providing the kind of service it does yet at the same time the government refuses to provide the capital equipment and the operating budgets to make these services effective.

It is interesting that there is a hovercraft station at Vancouver airport operated by the Coast Guard and there is another one in Parksville. The hovercraft station in Parksville is where my brother the hon. member for Comox-Albemi is the representative. He is working hard to retain that facility. However, the service is not only in his area but covers the whole northern end of Georgia Strait, which is in the area I represent.

February 25, 1993

This absolutely critical service cannot be replaced by conventional ships. The travelling public is put in tremendous jeopardy with the removal of that simply because the government wants two of them in Vancouver. It does not want to provide effective search and rescue services to the people on the northern part of Georgia Strait, a tremendously populous area, with a tremendous number of people on the water.

The people providing this service are extremely demoralized because of the continuation of the cuts. These cuts are not only demoralizing on the Public Service, creating enormous problems in gaining from it the kind of support it is capable of giving but they are also presenting an enormous danger to the travelling public.

Another example of these cutbacks is the removal of two Coast Guard vessels from the coast of British Columbia. We had been promised a major improvement in the ships on the coast of British Columbia to provide offshore protection to upgrade the aids to the navigation program and the lighthouse servicing program but how did this government handle that? It decided to take the two vessels that would have fit the bill, the George R. Pearkes and the Martha L. Black to Quebec.

What did the government do? It gave us in return an old beater by the name of the Norman McLeod Rogers which is tied up because it is full of asbestos. I guess no decision has been made whether the government is going to spend the money to clean that ship out even if it is not appropriate for the kinds of tasks for which we need it.

Obviously the Minister of Transport has made some decisions that really affect the Public Service on the coast of British Columbia and the conditions of work in an asbestos-ridden ship. It is a difficult situation. We should have proper ship equipment there so that people can carry out the kinds of tasks for which they have been trained and the experience they have to deliver to the public.

However, at the same time these cutbacks are occurring. The ship program with the Coast Guard on the west coast is abysmal. The Narwhal which is an old buoy tender really is not an acceptable vessel for outside

Government Orders

search and rescue on the Pacific Ocean but that is its function now that the main resources have been taken away and sent to Quebec.

It is interesting in the area of aviation. Because of privatization people are booted out of their jobs in the Public Service in order to give them to the private sector. It is often so that friends of the Conservative government can benefit from a position at the public trough.

There is a lot of talk now that the flight service stations are going to be privatized and they are looking at a proposal to take Transport Canada employees and turn over those flight service station positions to privatization. They of course went through a number of cutbacks which again created demoralization in the Public Service. To my way of thinking, this is really a tragic situation. We need quality service aimed at safety for British Columbians who must travel in difficult areas and this government seems not to care that there is an arbitrary rule to do those cutbacks in spite of the consequences.

The other thing is the Coast Guard helicopters. Again, friends of the Conservative government come along and make a suggestion saying: "Wouldn't it be great if we privatized and took over the operation of Coast Guard helicopter services". The employees who fly and service those helicopters are extremely concerned about their future. There is an uncertainty involved with this wrongheaded approach.

What happens is if you are out doing a medical evacuation or you are doing search and rescue work, the bottom line is the bottom line. If a private company has it then you get to a situation where it will say: "Well, maybe we will not do the kind of upgrading that is needed, we will not do the kind of training that is needed and we will not put on the equipment that is needed". The thing then begins to fall down.

They can also work it the other way, and this has been happening in many departments where you get a cost plus situation, where friends of the government move in, a very lucrative contract has been obtained and they virtually work at cost plus.

February 25, 1993

Government Orders

We have an extremely effective Public Service. We have a very good Coast Guard helicopter service. The employees themselves have recommended many upgrades that could improve the efficiency, effectiveness and cost picture of operation, but the government continuously turns a deaf ear to those suggestions because of the philosophical fixation that I think is really leading to the destruction of our Public Service and in many cases irreparable harm to the country. This is creating an enormous problem.

There is the shutting down of the Cape St. James weather station. This is one of the most important weather stations on the Pacific coast. You cannot travel from one end of that coast without travelling through an extremely bleak area in which there are very few resources and the Cape St. James weather station. All kinds of promises were made about automated facilities that would give good weather briefing, but there is no replacement for a good set of eyes and an Environment Canada weather briefer or meteorologist to give you an indication of what you are going to be facing three hours from now when you arrive right in the middle of that cauldron with no information about what is happening.

They took the weather ships out of the Pacific many years ago. They figured they would put two buoys out there that would transmit weather information. My information is that those buoys are out there but they are floating around and they are really not sure where the heck they are. They break down. The Coast Guard has to use its limited ship resources to try to keep them up on behalf of the atmospheric environmental weather service people. I gather one is floating around broken off the north end of the Queen Charlotte Islands right now. That was a Liberal government contribution to safety, to the travelling public and to the Public Service in Canada.

We have watched a whole litany, and I have focused on the area of transportation safety, closing the Cape St. James weather station, two serious attempts by both governments, the previous Liberal and the present Conservative, to de-staff those lighthouses, and then a political commitment to keep the staff in the lighthouses and upgrade them. No upgrades, but the upgrades that have been going in are designed to facilitate an implementation of a de-staffing scheme which will automate them. This is just ludicrous.

We then have the cutbacks of hovercraft where they decided they wanted them both parked in Vancouver and

leave the whole of the Straits of Georgia, with all its reefs and shallow waters, where ships cannot penetrate to look for people out there who are lost. The hovercraft goes to Vancouver and it leaves the area I represent totally left out of that very valuable hovercraft service.

We then watched the suggested privatization of Coast Guard helicopters. A bad idea. We are now hearing things about the privatization of flight service stations. This is a worse idea, if you can get worse. We get to a situation where over and over and over again they are prepared to demoralize the Public Service, to cut that service and cause enormous harm.

While I have the opportunity, in my closing remarks I would like to talk about fisheries and oceans.

On the west coast of British Columbia we are currently going through a process by which the Government of Canada is working on an aboriginal fisheries strategy. We understand how that strategy has come into place because of requirements of the Supreme Court of Canada, but the implementation of this has been catastrophic. You could summarize it, as I guess the provincial government has done, by saying no conservation, no consultation, and no compensation.

On the conservation aspect, with the cutbacks over the nine years of this government, cutbacks to staff within the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the bad treatment, mistreatment of people in the Public Service in fisheries and oceans, we have a situation where there is an enormous change, one that has to be carried out. Yet with that enormous change it does not have the resources to protect the fisheries resource on the coast of British Columbia.

We want the minister to stand up in this House and explain why there are no stream counts for escapements. It is a blind guess. Why can they not do stream clearing? Why can they not do a whole effective amount of things, not only on the Fraser River where it is extremely important, but along the coast of British Columbia where there are areas that are just absolutely untouched by fisheries and oceans. That is because of the cuts to the Public Service which this government has carried out over the years. It is extremely proud of this, but in being extremely proud of them, it has put that resource in jeopardy.

February 25, 1993

Those people cannot do surveillance, they cannot do enforcement, they cannot do proper habitat protection, they cannot do stream clearing, they cannot do proper counts. It is important that there be a guardian program so that it can be extended at critical times. It is going ahead. What we really need in this House are not the stupid remarks that are made by the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans about what the Reform Party policy or the Quebec bloc's policy is on the aboriginal fisheries strategy, but what he is doing with extremely limited resources in the Public Service to protect the valuable Pacific fisheries resource.

I am absolutely sick of the kind of thing that is going on in this House where, instead of providing information to the public of Canada, he is playing the fool in the House of Commons by failing to give those people the understanding of what he is doing and the kind of resources he is prepared to put in place to protect the Pacific fisheries resources. It is the same with the House leader being a smart ass here this afternoon by failing to deal with this critical issue.

We need that presentation by the minister. I do not think there is another option for the aboriginal fisheries strategy. You either have a fisheries agreement by agreement or you have fisheries by chaos. That appears to be the line taken by the Supreme Court of Canada, which this House cannot overturn.

There need to be agreements. If aboriginal people are prepared to put interim agreements together until proper consultation and full fair involvement of all stakeholders occurs, we are prepared to support that. In the meantime, we are getting no guarantee that that valuable resource is protected. They almost lost it in the previous year.

I see time is drawing to a close. There is no need to lose the fishery. If we could get the proper resources and the assurance from the minister that the government is not just going to continue to cut out fisheries officers but it will put those kinds of resources in place, I think people's minds would rest easier. They would be more able to accept the kind of major structural and operational changes that are going on. In fact, politically this government would stand to win instead of losing continuously.

Government Orders

Hopefully the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans will see the wisdom and the merit in coming before this House and sharing the information, not only with other members of Parliament who are willing to hear him out and support moves that would protect that resource, but with the people of Canada, giving them a fair shake on his fulfilling his responsibility and this government's responsibility to the protection of that resource.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CANADA LABOUR CODE
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February 25, 1993

Mr. Raymond Skelly (North Island-Powell River):

Mr. Speaker, I enjoyed the speech very much but there were a couple of significant omissions. I guess my question would be: What exactly is the Liberal position on wage controls?

We remember in this country and in this House the kinds of complaints about the wage controls the Conservative government has placed on the Public Service over the years. The Liberal Party stands in the House regularly and criticizes them. We all remember Pierre Elliott Trudeau and the entire Liberal Party when they imposed the six and five program on the Public Service. We all remember the 1974 election in which Pierre Elliott Trudeau stood and said: "Of course we will never impose wage and price controls on the public sector".

That is the first interesting recollection the member forgot in her speech. What exactly is the position in the Liberal Party on wage controls?

Second, I remember when the Trudeau government was in the House and time after time after time it refused to bargain in good faith with the employees of the Public Service of Canada and simply ordered them back to work. There was all kinds of controversy.

The hon. member talked about good management practices. Good management practices for a Liberal government was that the hammer fell on the employee again. In many cases there was no attempt to put in place rudimentary dispute resolution processes. The government simply hammered the employees back to work with take it or leave it agreements.

Although I enjoyed the principles outlined very much in the hon. member's speech, I have seen previous Liberal governments smash those principles to pieces under an iron boot. I wonder if she has a comment.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CANADA LABOUR CODE
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February 18, 1993

Mr. Raymond Skelly (North Island -Powell River):

Mr. Speaker, the recent announcement that 1,200 public servants have been terminated by the Department of Supply and Services is to be followed by 1,700 more Public Service jobs to be lost within that department.

This a penny wise and pound foolish Conservative government. It has over its nine years in office demoralized the Public Service of Canada. It has destroyed a long proud record of public service to Canadians. The Tories have not saved Canadians any money with these cuts.

The goal for the Tory government is to scapegoat the Public Service. The goal for the Tory government is to privatize public services to provide additional patronage for its friends already too deeply gorged with public patronage and public taxpayers' dollars.

We call on the government to end this practice of destroying the Public Service of Canada.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   STATEMENTS PURSUANT TO S. O. 31
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February 16, 1993

Mr. Raymond Skelly (North Island-Powell River) moved:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should cancel the proposal to amalgamate the RCMP Public Complaints Commission with the RCMP External Review Committee, and furthermore the government should implement the recommendations contained in the 1990-91 RCMP Public Complaints Commission Annual Report.

He said: Mr. Speaker, today I would like to propose that we change the direction in which the government is moving in one particular case. This is the case of amalgamating two very worth-while agencies: the RCMP External Review Committee and the RCMP Public Complaints Commission.

The concerns I have involve an incident that happened in Gibsons, British Columbia, on September 30, 1988. On that particular night an individual happened to be under the influence of alcohol and sleeping in a local pub. The owners asked that the individual be removed. The individual was then subsequently taken to the RCMP station and throughout the night an altercation resulted.

Private Members' Business

The individual was taken out of the RCMP cells during the night. He was subjected to the exercise of force by a police officer involved. There had been an altercation in the cells as well. Later on in the course of the night the individuals who were in the cell began to ask that the person be dealt with by a physician. It was clear that the person was badly injured. It was not exactly clear how those injuries came about, but very definitely throughout the night the individual did not have access to medical attention.

The next morning there were no charges taken and suddenly all the other individuals in the cell were asked to leave. This individual was held back to account for a parking ticket in Sechelt, British Columbia. Then, once his brother dealt with the parking ticket in another community, he was released out into the street where he promptly could not function because of his physical condition.

A taxicab picked him up and took him to the hospital. The hospital examined him and my understanding of the injuries were that his face had been stoved in, his ribs broken and his spleen had been ruptured. He was in fact in danger of dying. The hospital picked him up by helicopter and took him to North Vancouver to deal with the injuries.

The two points the commission findings dealt with were an improper procedure on the part of the RCMP officers involved and failure to provide medical attention. Had it not been for the RCMP Public Complaints Commission, this would never have seen the light of day.

There were definitely attempts by RCMP officers involved to obstruct the process of this complaint. It was extremely difficult to deal with it. In any other agency, such as the provincial ombudsman, nobody would have essentially picked this complaint up. It is ironic that the RCMP Public Complaints Commission came into force at midnight, October 1. Even though this had occurred on September 30, I gather the RCMP took the commission to court arguing that since the event had commenced prior to the proclamation and imposition of this legislation it did not have jurisdiction.

The Federal Court upheld that jurisdiction and the case went ahead. It took years. Eventually the RCMP admitted wrongdoing, apologized for the event and then wound up in an out of court settlement resolving it years later.

February 16, 1993

Private Members' Business

The point is not to criticize the RCMP. The RCMP is the finest police force that one can point to in Canada if not in the world. It is absolutely critical that the force maintain high morale and that the complaints commission not be used as an instrument to harass the police force when it is carrying out the will of the public so that fair, even-handed and effective law enforcement takes place.

We are concerned about the odd incident, the odd individual who is not suited to the rigours of police work. There must be a mechanism by which the complaints of the public can be brought before a commission or an agency that handles these fairly.

I would like to read the mandate of the External Review Committee. It says: "The RCMP External Review Committee was created to provide an independent, impartial recommendation to the commissioner on grievances, formal discipline, discharge and demotion under the provisions of the RCMP Act. Any case resulting in a formal discipline, discharge and demotion is referred to the committee by the Commissioner of the RCMP unless the member requests that it proceeds otherwise".

This is a totally different matter. It is almost a committee that handles labour grievances within the police force. I think it is an extremely valuable, useful and productive arrangement where officers within the police force can ask that these complaints be dealt with within a more impartial purview than with members of the RCMP.

On the other hand, the principles laid out in the RCMP Public Complaints Commission are different. It talks about two important functions: that the mandate of the Public Complaints Commission is to provide individual members of the public with an effective mechanism that they can make complaints in. The public also, in laying complaints, must not interfere with the public's interest in the fair and proper enforcement of the law. It is a very delicate balance. It is not there to disrupt the process of fair and even-handed law enforcement, but it is also there to deal in a fair and equitable way with the complaints of the public.

A number of important principles have to be looked at. We cannot allow these two agencies to be melded together. It is a blurring of their purposes.

The public is already sceptical enough, when you say RCMP public complaints, that it is an agency of the RCMP and that it works hand in glove with the people against whom they have a complaint. That is not true.

The first principle we should be looking at is that police forces have strict accountability in the use of force, especially the use of deadly force, which we have been encountering lately in a great many public complaints, not against the RCMP but other police forces. There is a strict accountability of the use of force against members of the public.

The second principle is that the complaints have a fair and impartial investigation mechanism to ensure the public that they are fully investigated and they know the consequences and outcome.

The third principle is that the public be aware of the process. When you talk to members of the general public it is ironic that they do not have any idea that this organization exists. Many people who have complaints against the RCMP say: "There is nothing you can do. This is the force of the state and if you wind up complaining against them the force will come down on you even harder". There is an element of truth in this.

I think there have been at least a dozen complaints against police actions in the community of Gibsons. It is interesting, when individuals were charged and the use of force was involved in the laying of that charge, the individuals who laid the complaint about what they felt was the inappropriate use of force, usually a month later or some time later, even further charges emerged. So there was a real deterrent against the individual making a complaint and it was recommended often by friends not to complain because they would make it even worse.

However, the public must be aware that there is a process by which they can get to an agency that will investigate their complaints.

When we went to the hospital in this community and asked if the records showed that when individuals were brought into this hospital that they complained about the excessive use of force or injury because of excessive force of the RCMP. It never appeared in the hospital emergency records and it was not traceable back through hospital records, so it is extremely difficult.

It is my understanding that this is now changed. If an individual comes in and says how he or she has been injured, the hospital will at least record that the injury

February 16, 1993

was as a result of police force action and the use of force in the law enforcement process.

The public is not aware of this organization. I think it is important that all referral agencies and hospitals should make it clear where one can get a fair and equitable hearing of one's complaint, a thorough investigation.

The RCMP must co-operate with an investigatory commission and that co-operation must be seen to get to the bottom of a complaint. In many cases the RCMP officer has been found to be completely justified in the use of force for the protection of himself, protection of others and for the public good of enforcing the law.

In other cases, there was a misunderstanding and an explanation to the complainant about what the procedures are has often satisfied people. There has often been a simple apology that in the heat of the moment measures might have been used that were precautionary. Then in a very small number of cases there is in fact a legitimate concern and a good thorough investigation is useful in clearing the air and resolving the matter for future police operations procedure.

This procedure, with RCMP co-operation, gets to the bottom of what its members are doing. Getting to the bottom of what its members are doing can change police operations and make our police force a more effective agency, more highly regarded in the eyes of the public for doing the work of the public.

It is absolutely critical that this process be transparent. If in those small number of cases where an individual requires discipline, where changes are made as a result of a complaint of improper procedure, then it is incumbent upon the RCMP to let the complainant know what the outcome was.

At this time, there is no indication of what occurs. The commissioner of the RCMP in responding to the report and recommendations of the commission in a finding is not required to produce that information to the complainant.

I do not know how we got to the point of talking about the recommendations in the 1990-91 report. I believe what we are talking about is the recommendations in the

Private Members' Business

1989-90 report. Substantial recommendations were put forward for changes in the RCMP legislation. Not only do these agencies have to be held apart in order to keep and encourage the public confidence in an organization that is there to handle complaints, but the legislation has to be strengthened to make it more effective.

It is interesting that in asking to be able to distribute interim reports and final reports of the agency, they are asking for the authority to make these matters of the public record and that the public can refer to previous actions taken by the commission in the event of certain kinds of activities. There is no reason that this should not be a matter of public record. There is no reason that this recommendation should not be implemented.

Another thing is that the commissioner within 60 days should be required to provide notice to the commission and to the complainant of the commissioner's response to the report and recommendation of the commission. The complainant, as I mentioned before, is entitled to know what kind of action is to be taken in a case where there was inappropriate use of force or inappropriate action on the part of the police force and its members. That should be reported. Any disciplinary action, any changes taken, should be reported back to the complainant and the commission.

The commission asks for the ability to share information that it has gathered, even personal information with the provinces who are responsible for contracting for those police forces. It is important that the attorneys general of the various provinces have access to the kinds of information that may in future affect important police operation matters. It would allow them to co-ordinate and to change actions of other police forces where it is important. This kind of change to the legislation would certainly help and be effective.

An interesting problem arose if the complaint is made against the police force in its entirety as well as against a member of the police force. It is suggested in the recommendation that if it is simply against a member, the discipline falls on the member. The member becomes a scapegoat and the force is held blameless. The entire operation of the police force is not up for

February 16, 1993

Private Members' Business

consideration. It is absolutely important that this recommendation be implemented as well.

The commission in its recommendations in the 1989-90 report asked for a mechanism to be provided to permit mediation of complaints where the police force and the complainant could sit down in a mediated situation rather than going to court and rather than being placed in a continuous adversarial, confrontational type of arrangement that that environment provides. Mediation as an opportunity should be provided.

In summation, it is important that those recommendations be considered seriously. There should be ongoing dialogue between the office of the Solicitor General and the chairperson of this commission for the implementation of those recommendations. We could have an improved legislative base from which this commission could operate. It would be an agency that is more effective in resolving the complaints of the public.

In fact in the long run this will enhance the credibility of Canada's police force and will improve the law enforcement activities in Canada.

One of the requirements that we should be looking for in this House is a statement from the Solicitor General. That will probably be the subject of the next private member's motion. The subject of the next private members' motion is probably that the Solicitor General report to this House the progress on the implementation of these particular recommendations.

It is important that this agency not be rolled into the External Review Committee, that its mandate and its responsibility be blurred by an activity which is not in any way related.

The suggestion is that the government will save money in this process. By the time the moves are all made and the two agencies move into their new facilities, expand the number of floors they take up and rearrange things no money will be saved. In the long run, it is likely that RCMP Public Complaints Commission will be harmed in its ability to carry out its absolutely critical tasks.

Hopefully the government is in a position to reconsider what I think is a strategic error in the law enforcement policy of Canada. To reiterate, the RCMP is literally the finest police force in the country, if not in the entire

world. It is respected from coast to coast to coast by all Canadians as having done an enormously good job. When there have been complaints, we have seen those complaints addressed and we have moved on.

At this point there has to be serious consideration by the government to complaints from the public, that those complaints be moved on quickly and effectively, without harming law enforcement and to the satisfaction of the complainant. At least they got a fair hearing.

The RCMP sets a standard for law enforcement in this country. The handling of complaints in an effective, fair, even-handed manner where the complainant gets to know the reasons a situation occurred, for better or for worse does not harm this police force. It does not harm the cause of law enforcement. At least it lays to rest the often serious concerns of complainants.

It also sets an example to other police forces in this country that there is strict accountability, that the RCMP has the courage and the integrity to answer. It has full accountability to the citizens' confidence in it of delegating the right to use force in the enforcement of the laws. That example would go a long way to resolving many of the complaints that we are faced with each day.

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS
Subtopic:   ROYAL CANADIAN MOUNTED POLICE
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