Feds face criticism over requests for RCMP officers to stay silent

OTTAWA, Ont. – The federal government is facing a wave of criticism after emails were sent out to RCMP officials, telling them they need to get approval from the commissioner or the public safety minister’s office before talking to politicians.

When questioned about the change in policy, the parliamentary secretary to public safety, Candice Bergen (MP, Portage-Lisgar) angered opposition members in the House of Commons.

“If parliamentarians need to or want to meet with RCMP or other officials, the appropriate place for them to do that is in Parliamentary committees. If that member has a concern about any RCMP member, they can speak with myself or the minister of public safety,” she said.

The opposition responded by saying this shows how controlling and paranoid the Harper Conservatives are, while Liberal John McKay blasted the government during question period.

“Mr. Speaker – only in paranoid, conservative Canada should the police be forbidden from speaking with the people’s representatives, so will this minister choke down his paranoia and reverse?” he asked.

Maclean’s Magazine’s Aaron Wherry said it’s ridiculous that RCMP officers would be denied the right to have meetings with Canadians’ elected officials.

“It politicizes an organization that should be completely apolitical,” he said, Friday. “The most important law enforcement agency in the country now is in the middle of this little dispute.”

Wherry added that such silence is not good for the public or Canada’s law enforcement agencies.

The government, meanwhile, says MPs who want to talk to police can call them to committees, but that has not been the practice until now.

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