B.C. demands resumption of RCMP talks

Municipal leaders have voted unanimously to demand a resumption of talks with Ottawa on a new 20-year policing contract with the RCMP.

Federal Heritage Minister James Moore addresses Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Vancouver.

Federal Heritage Minister James Moore addresses Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Vancouver.

VANCOUVER – The B.C. government needs to present a more specific proposal to bridge the gap on negotiating a new 20-year contract for RCMP services, MP James Moore said Friday.

Moore, the Conservative government’s senior B.C. cabinet minister, spoke to the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention, three days after B.C. revealed that Ottawa has given the province a deadline of the end of November to sign a new RCMP contract.

Municipal leaders rejected that view, voting unanimously for an emergency resolution calling on the federal government to return to the bargaining table.

B.C. Public Safety Minister Shirley Bond surprised mayors and councillors Tuesday when she announced that talks with Ottawa have broken off after four years. Federal Public Safety Minister Vic Teows has since said that the federal government will begin withdrawing RCMP services by 2014 if B.C. doesn’t sign the contract terms accepted by Saskatchewan and Alberta. Teows gave a deadline of Nov. 30.

If there is no deal, B.C. would have to reconstruct a provincial police service that was disbanded in 1950. The RCMP has contracts with most B.C. municipalities to provide police service, and local governments are concerned about rising costs for one of their biggest budget items.

Moore said the cost sharing formula and other major points of the RCMP deal are agreed upon. B.C. wants more input but there have been different proposals from municipalities and the province on how to do that, he said.

Langley City Mayor Peter Fassbender, municipal representative in negotiations, said Moore is wrong. B.C. has a specific list of proposals that has been worked out with other provinces and territories, and he has been at every negotiating session for the last year where it has been discussed, he said.

With one third of all RCMP officers, B.C. has emerged as leader of provinces and territories still seeking a new deal. Fassbender said he wants a mechanism to deal directly with Ottawa as pay, pension and other RCMP costs emerge.

“For me it’s the contract management committee at the federal level that we want, to be able to sit down on an ongoing basis, not once every couple of years but day in and day out as issues arise, so that we can move forward and find solutions that are going to make sense,” Fassbender said.