News Views: Taking aim

Ottawa is threatening to start pulling the RCMP out of B.C. in 2014 if the province and municipalities don’t sign a new 20-year policing contract by the end of November.

The B.C. government and municipal leaders are balking at that ultimatum and are now talking about forming a provincial police force.

Contract talks are, by nature, acrimonious. Two sides present their demands, which are sometimes unreasonable, on purpose or not, or at least distant. But they both make concessions and whittle away issues until they hit another roadblock, usually money. Threats, like a strike or some form of service withdrawal, are then made. Sometimes service is interrupted. But in the end, a common ground is reached, although the relationship can be scarred forever.

With the RCMP, no one doubts their importance or worth. The Mounties are a cherished, integral and respected organization – a valuable piece of Canadian history.

While the RCMP isn’t without deficiencies, it has made strides towards improving accountability, transparency and communication. Crime rates in B.C. hit a 30-year low in 2009.

Overall, the RCMP do an outstanding job protecting the safety of the public, and for that we are grateful. At the same time, there is always room for improvement – although regional tasks force are lauded for their effectiveness, gangs are still running around shooting each other in public– and money is tight.

It would seem money shouldn’t matter when it comes to safety, but the RCMP is funded by the ever increasingly tapped-out taxpayer, and currently the economy is again faltering.

Teachers are in a similar position.

Both are invaluable.

So we must keep in mind the nature of contract talks as the province and RCMP hammer away at an agreement, and be reasonable in our reactions to each volley, careful to not get caught in the middle.

The aim here is an amicable resolution that continues to maintain, even improve public safety, and retains the proud tradition of the RCMP in B.C.

– The News