The union leader says he has a “productive” relationship with the embattled RCMP commissioner
Amid renewed calls for her resignation, RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki gets points from an unlikely source: the National Police Forces Union.
“Our relationship has been extremely productive,” Brian Sauvé, head of the National Police Federation, told CBC News. He represents about 20,000 front-line officers – often in opposition to RCMP headquarters.
Sauvé’s comments come after a tough year for the commissioner, who has been dogged by allegations of political interference and mixed criticism of her performances before public inquiries and commissions.
She ended 2022 with calls for his resignation from multiple sources – including opposition Conservatives and a provincial justice minister.
Sauvé, who was elected the RCMP’s first union leader in 2019, called the talk surrounding Lucki’s tenure a “media obsession” and said the commissioner has popped up where it counts for members.
“I can only say when the commissioner or the [chief human resources officer] If you have a concern, or if members have a concern large enough, they are open to one call at any time during the day,” he said.
“I have no control over who takes what position, and to be honest, I don’t want the input.”
Sauvé cited the case of two Mounties in Whitecourt, Alta. who were charged with manslaughter after a shooting in 2018. Before a jury acquitted the couple in December, their legal fees stalled.
“They’re being taken to court and the lawyers are wondering if they’re actually getting paid,” he said.
“One call to the Commissioner who suddenly calls the Minister within 48 hours, you have consent and Members don’t have this stress over their heads. So to be able to have that relationship with every commissioner or every commanding officer… solving problems at the lowest possible level, I couldn’t ask for better.
Sauvé spoke from the union’s boardroom in downtown Ottawa, which overlooks streets that just a year ago were blocked by protesters angry at the federal government’s crackdown on the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lucki’s response to the federal government’s decision to invoke the Emergency Act in response to these protests has been attacked – and cited by Alberta Attorney General Tyler Shandro as the reason for her dismissal.
“She failed to inform the federal cabinet of all available law enforcement avenues prior to the decision to invoke the Emergency Act,” he said in a November statement.
Lucki says she stays where she is
Shandro also said Lucki failed to address the RCMP’s history of systemic racism and “evaded responsibility and apologized for her actions” in the investigation into the mass shooting in Nova Scotia that killed 22 people in 2020 .
Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley called Shandro’s request a “political tactic” aimed at building support for a provincial police force.
“I have to say, there’s a lot of politics, a lot of politics everywhere,” said Sauvé, who is fighting an Alberta provincial police service.
“Policing should never be about politics, but apparently it’s not so much about the operations of the police as it is about the 30,000-foot level of what policing looks like.”
The Conservative Federal Party also called for Lucki’s resignation over allegations this summer that she had bowed to political pressure in the investigation into the mass shootings.
During Nova Scotia’s Mass Casualty Commission, another Mountie claimed that Bill Blair, then Secretary of Public Safety, pressured Lucki to release details of the guns used by the shooter ahead of a liberal gun control announcement.
Lucki and Blair have both denied interfering in the RCMP’s investigation.
The RCMP officer serves the will of the government. Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino has repeatedly said he has faith in Lucki and is willing to work with the RCMP to reform the force.
Lucki herself said late last year that she would not be stepping down.
“I’m not going to focus on whether or not people want me in that chair. I will focus on keeping Canadians safe,” she said.
When asked what membership makes of Lucki’s nearly five years at the helm, Sauvé, a veteran of the force, said it’s not an issue that comes up.
“I don’t usually ask,” he said.
“What does the future hold should Brenda decide to retire? It’s up to her. If she does? Fantastic. What if she doesn’t? I look forward to another productive relationship.”