Should BC ditch RCMP for a provincial force? Poll shows split opinion

Switching to a provincial police service was one of the key recommendations of an all-party legislative committee reviewing the Police Act.

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A new poll shows British Columbians are split on the idea of ditching the RCMP in favour of a provincial police force, one of the key reforms recommended by an all-party legislative committee.

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The survey, conducted by B.C. polling firm Research Co. and released Tuesday, found 39 per cent agree with replacing the RCMP with a provincial force while 38 per cent are opposed. About 23 per cent of respondents were undecided.

Support for getting rid of the RCMP was highest in Northern B.C. — which is primarily policed by the national force — at 45 per cent of respondents, followed by the Fraser Valley and Vancouver Island, each with 43 per cent, followed by Metro Vancouver with 40 per cent. Only 26 per cent of respondents in Southern B.C. thought it was a good idea to switch to a provincial force.

In April, the committee that considered reforms to B.C.’s Police Act to address systemic racism in policing released 11 recommendations including the call to eventually replace the RCMP with a provincial force. B.C. has not had a provincial force since 1950 and is policed by 12 municipal police departments and 130 RCMP detachments.

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RCMP’s contract with the province extends to 2032.

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth told Postmedia News in June there are no immediate plans to get rid of the RCMP, noting some of the recommendations would be implemented over successive legislatures.

“One of the key aspects of the report is the fact that this is a report that is going to take a long time implement that will take many, many parliaments and so … people understand that,” Farnworth said in a June 2 interview on the last day of the spring session.

Farnworth said starting this month, he’ll discuss the recommendations with Indigenous partners, advocacy groups, health and mental-health groups, police leaders, agencies and police oversight bodies. His office has not yet said whether those talks have begun.

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The survey’s methodology: The online survey between July 4 and 6 asked 800 adults for their views and statistically weighted the results to reflect census figures for age, gender and region in Canada. The margin of error — which measures sample variability — is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

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