REGINA - Political leaders at the legislature Thursday had concerns about a recommendation by the Nova Scotia Mass Casualty Commission inquiry to end RCMP Depot in Regina.
In one of the recommendations from the public inquiry into the mass murders of 22 people in Nova Scotia on April 18 and 19, 2020, there was a call to close the RCMP training depot in Regina and establish of a Canadian Police College, which would create a three-year degree based model of education for all police services in Canada. They called for the transition to happen by 2032.
That raised immediate worries at the Legislature about what the loss of Depot could mean to Regina. The city has been home to RCMP Depot for 140 years.
When asked at the Legislature Thursday, Premier Scott Moe said he would have a look at all the recommendations coming from the report, but expressed support for the RCMP and for Depot.
“We’ve been a very strong supporter, not only of Depot here in Regina, but the RCMP in general in adding officers into our communities across the province,” said Moe.
He pointed to the adding of the Crime Reduction Teams and specialized teams as having an impact.
As for the recommendation of a three year degree-based model, Moe had concerns this would be another hurdle in training more officers.
“We’re short of officers today,” said Moe. “We need more officers actually to go through Depot and then provide that service and providing safety to Saskatchewan people, and I would say more broadly Canadians. So to put in place additional requirements for those folks to even enter into the training program likely doesn’t help us with providing more officers into our communities, and likely doesn’t help us in striving to have safer communities.”
Moe told reporters he would have a response to the commission's report “from the perspective of Saskatchewan, not only the activity we see at F division in Depot, but also the service that RCMP provides in many cases to rural areas of Saskatchewan. Again, this is an area where we may have some comments in the days and weeks ahead.”
Opposition Leader Carla Beck was also concerned about the commission report’s recommendation, expressing particular alarm over the recommendation on closing Depot.
“That’s something that’s deeply concerning and not on as an MLA for Regina, but also as someone very proud of the tradition of the RCMP in this province.”
She noted that right now in Saskatchewan, and right across the country “there is already a shortage of RCMP officers. We see that in rural communities most pronounced.”
“That delay would be deeply concerning. And the talk of actually shutting down the Depot here in Regina, I think you should be concerning to the provincial government, certainly the city of Regina, and I don’t think we can afford to have those delayed in getting those officers out and into communities. Is there a concern to the training, you know that’s something to look at but I think this is an extreme measure in a time when we have a shortage of officers.
Beck said that something the Premier should be doing and “hasn’t been doing” Sit down with law-enforcement, and the RCMP F Division commander, Assistant Commissioner Rhonda Blackmore. She said the Opposition would be happy to lend their voice as well.
“This has deep implications for the city and this province,” said Beck, pointing to hundreds of jobs in the City of Regina as well as the implications on tourism with the RCMP Heritage Centre there.
“If you look at an advertisement, tourism ad for the city of Regina, most likely you’re going to see the Red Serge, you’re going to see Depot in those ads. It’s a source of pride, not only for the city, but for the province… this is a big deal, and those jobs, that tradition matters to the city, matters to the province, and I’d like to see all levels of government work together to express those concerns and look for solutions to not lose Depot here for Regina.”
In a statement issued Thursday afternoon, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he would review the recommendations from the Mass Casualty Commission report.
“I listened today as the Final Report from the Mass Casualty Commission was presented, and I thank the commissioners for their work. The Government of Canada will carefully review and respond to the recommendations under federal jurisdiction. We remain deeply committed to working with the people and the communities affected to make our communities safer places to live.”
The RCMP has issued this statement regarding the Mass Casualty Commission report.
"The RCMP is committed to addressing the MCC’s recommendations in a manner that is open, transparent and respectful to the victims, survivors and their families. As the RCMP Commissioner noted on March 30th, we will follow the advice of the Mass Casualty Commission to take the time to read and process the report.
"To make sure we get this right, the RCMP has put in place a team to study the report and recommendations, to guide our action plan and publicly report our progress. We will act on these recommendations — just as we have applied other lessons learned since April 2020."