The Royal Canadian Mounted Police advertises itself
as Canada's national police service, an organization of
excellence, and a world leader in integrated policing. By and
large, general surveys of public opinion indicate that the RCMP
is widely respected by Canadians. In contrast, there have been
several studies, as well as occasional public complaints, showing
that the RCMP is in crisis and is drastically underfunded.
Accounts vary as to the nature of that crisis, the extent to
which the organization is underfunded, and the reason that it is
Among the most serious reasons advanced for the current problems
in the Force is that it has become politicized in the sense that
it responds directly to political instructions. This is
especially serious because the RCMP is above all a "guardian"
institution, like the Canadian Forces and the courts of law. Once
the police take political direction, the rule of law is
subverted. And the rule of law, it hardly needs be mentioned, is
a pillar, perhaps the very foundation, of constitutional
In this Fraser Institute Digital Publication, we examine the
evidence provided by judicial inquiries and reports and by other
scholarly and journalistic investigations of the RCMP. The
sources include testimony before the Gomery Commission, the first
Report of the Gomery Commission, several reports of the Auditor
General, the Report of the Hughes Commission, and several other
analyses of the federal police. Whatever the impact of
underfunding, it seems clear that politicization is a greater
problem, not only for reasons noted above but because it has
meant a decline in the core competencies of the Force, namely the
enforcement of federal laws. That is, the RCMP as an institution
appears to be less capable today than it was in the past as well
as less capable than it proclaims itself to be. It is this last
problem, the disconnect between image and reality that is at the
heart of the federal police.
Political and administrative institutions can fail but they can
also be restored. The first step in restoration, however, is
acknowledging that there is a problem and what the problem is.
Most of this publication provides documentation of the problem.
We conclude by indicating several administrative steps that can
be taken to restore the RCMP to its proper purpose. One way or
another, however, it is our contention that de-politicization is
the key to halting the decline of the RCMP.