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The Government Will Review The RCMP's Secretive Public Complaints System

The Public Safety Minister says he's launching an investigation into who's watching the watchmen.

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Liberal Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale says he's going to review RCMP oversight, but he isn't promising changes yet.


Goodale was responding to a BuzzFeed Canada story Tuesday about how the RCMP lied that children were in danger so that they could illegally enter a house. An officer was found to have committed a "flagrant abuse of authority," but the case was never made public.

The RCMP's public complaints commission receives, on average, 2,000 complaints each year. Although 200 of those result in investigations, only three cases are released publicly.

Goodale said his department is conducting an oversight review of all national security agencies in his department, including the RCMP.

"It's a priority for me. It's the number one thing I want to get done in the department," he said.

He acknowledged that there's been "a different tradition" with the RCMP over the years compared to other police forces with more public disclosure. But Goodale says he won't commit to specific changes until the review is complete.

Jonathan Hayward / THE CANADIAN PRESS

The review will encompass the entire "patchwork" of national security agencies from the RCMP to the Canada Border Services Agency to the spying networks of CSIS and CSEC.

The government has made one commitment already — to create a parliamentary oversight body that will have the power to hold policing, spying, and military intelligence bodies to account.

All of Canada's main allies have similar civilian review bodies. The Conservatives had rejected attempts to create such a body on their watch.

Goodale would not give a timeline for when the review will be complete.

Paul McLeod is a politics reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC.

Contact Paul McLeod at

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