Wednesday, May 20, 2020

History of the RCMP

Maclean's, "Canada's newsmagazine," has shared the decline in visibility and influence experienced by Time and Newsweek and similar publications around the world.  It's now mostly a digital publication.  But it's worth saying that Maclean's weekly online issue often offers solid journalism and commentary, making it almost unique in Canada for longform inquiries about matters not quite as topical as the day's headline.

Case in point: two recent Maclean's articles that excoriate the way the RCMP in Nova Scotia handled the mass killings at Portapique.  One is by veteran journalist and RCMP critic Paul Palango, the other by commentator Stephen Maher.  I have not seen anything to match these in the daily press or CBC News, though The Guardian is now on the story

My experience, if it has taught me anything, is the RCMP is adept at pulling at heartstrings during and immediately after an event, like they have over the past two weeks. We are told that there will be a time and place to discuss these issues, but that time never really comes. By then, it’s all old news and time to move on, they will say.
Even now, without all the details in, it has become clear to me that the Nova Scotia massacre encapsulated all that has been and continues to be wrong with the current structure, ethos and performance of the RCMP.
Who years back coined the phrase "the world's only souvenir police force" to describe the RCMP?  (Daniel Francis, maybe?) Palango would likely agree:
The RCMP prides itself in being a national police force, but it’s not really a national police force, like say in France. It’s actually a federal police force that rents itself out to the provinces and territories outside Ontario and Quebec. Even then, the only urban areas it polices are Moncton, N.B., and the suburbs of Vancouver—and even there, it’s about to lose its local detachment in Surrey.
The fatal conceit of the Mounties is that every Mountie can do any job, policing is policing. There is no magic. [....]

However, working on organized crime and counter terrorism is akin to the difference between cricket and baseball. Both have bats and balls, but they are fundamentally different games.

Update, same day: Francis sets the record straight:
I’d love to take credit for the souvenir police force – which I used in National Dreams – but it was coined by my pal Stephen Osborne, founder of Geist magazine, in his essay “Pile of Bones” in Geist July/Aug 1994

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