1st Session, 41st Parliament,
Volume 148, Issue 139

Tuesday, February 26, 2013
The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker

Public Safety

Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, my question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. The role of the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP, to quote a recent Human Rights Watch report, is “primarily to monitor the processing of complaints by the RCMP. The main investigative authority resides with the RCMP and the RCMP ultimately determines what remedial action will be taken.”

I believe this is what Senator Dyck meant when she said recently that the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP mechanism is like having one of your own investigate one of your own. The government’s proposed legislation on amending the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act, Bill C-42, would still follow an existing procedure whereby the RCMP defers to the jurisdiction of provincial bodies like the Province of British Columbia’s Independent Investigation Office. However, the office’s mandate does not include most cases of police rape and other forms of sexual assault.

Moreover, irrespective of the federal or provincial government body that conducts independent investigations, the federal government still retains the ultimate responsibility, under international law, to address violence against women and girls and to address discrimination.

My question to the leader is as follows: Given that the RCMP defers first to independent provincial investigative bodies, will the government work with the provinces to ensure that such bodies, including the Independent Investigation Office in B.C., have the authority to investigate allegations of rape and sexual assault by the RCMP and the police?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I thank the honourable senator for the question. As she correctly stated in her question, we have a bill before Parliament, Bill C-42, the enhancing RCMP accountability act. I answered questions in this regard before we took our parliamentary break.

Obviously, various issues have come to light. The government, of course, has referred these to the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP. I do not know whom the senator is quoting when she says it is like one of your own looking into affairs of others of your own, or whatever the quote was.

The Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP is an independent organization, and, as I mentioned before, if people have any allegations or any information about wrongdoing in the RCMP, they are urged to go to the proper authorities and provide information and evidence with regard to the allegations.

With regard specifically to the relationship between provincial authorities and the RCMP, in many provincial jurisdictions, of course, the RCMP is the police force. I will simply take as notice the portion of the question regarding whether there is some process between the various attorneys general of the provinces and the federal government.

Senator Jaffer: Honourable senators, I understand that allegations of very serious offences, such as homicide, committed by the police are investigated, but allegations of rape and sexual assault committed by police are not investigated. May I ask that, when the leader is preparing her response, she please see whether those could also be included so that rape and sexual assault by police are also investigated.

My other supplementary question is the following: Will the new civilian review and complaints commission, proposed in Bill C-42, establish independent investigations of reported incidents of serious police misconduct, including incidents of rape and other sexual assaults?

Senator LeBreton: Obviously, honourable senators, this is a bill that is before Parliament, so I would suggest that the honourable senator hold those questions for when the bill is being considered in the Senate and sent to committee. As Leader of the Government in the Senate, quite rightly, I would not at this point in time weigh in on a piece of legislation that has not passed through Parliament.