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October 19, 2020 – Opinion: Governments need to resolve fisheries disputes, not the RCMP

By Brian Sauvé
President, National Police Federation

Across the country, and against the ongoing backdrop of COVID-19, front-line RCMP Members continue to deal with new and unforeseen challenges and risks. Years of cuts to front-line services by governments of all levels, political stripes and jurisdictions have left police officers across Canada increasingly tasked with responding to situations that go far beyond crime prevention and law enforcement.

For years, significant cutbacks and wage freezes have eroded staffing levels, recruitment, training and other resources, and – most importantly – the morale and well-being of RCMP Members. In Nova Scotia and all across Canada, Members are consistently being asked to do more with less.

Nova Scotians, in particular, have experienced a very challenging year. Many are still reeling from the trauma of the worst mass shooting in Canadian history, which cost 22 innocent people their lives, including that of RCMP Const. Heidi Stevenson.

And yet, despite their ongoing brave and selfless service in the face of increasing challenges and pressure, our 1,060 RCMP Members in Nova Scotia are being publicly singled out by elected officials for not doing enough in response to the tense situation currently unfolding on the south shore.

Disputes related to fisheries laws are, regrettably, not new. But they’re also, at their core, not policing issues. They’re inherently political issues that we are calling on federal and provincial governments to address in partnership with Indigenous Peoples and all affected parties.

When our elected officials fail to find workable solutions and tensions resultingly boil over, front- line RCMP Members are given the extremely difficult and dangerous task of physically inserting themselves into political disputes, outnumbered and doing their best to keep participants and the public safe.

Despite diminished resources, our Members in southwest Nova Scotia continue to respond to difficult situations professionally and effectively. Their goal is always to protect the safety of all Canadians and return home to their families, safely, at end of shift.

The National Police Federation is calling on Canada’s elected officials to address these issues meaningfully and urgently, so that our Members are not continually tasked with responding to deteriorating circumstances and preventable failures.

I, for one, am ready to sit down and talk about how Canada should be investing in front-line workers – from police officers to mental health workers – so that RCMP Members from coast to coast to coast can focus on crime prevention and public safety.

Brian Sauvé is the President of the National Police Federation, the labour relations organization representing ~20,000 RCMP Members serving across Canada and internationally. The NPF is the largest police labour relations organization in Canada, the second largest in North America and is the first independent national association to represent RCMP Members.

For more information: https://npf-fpn.com/.

Media contact:
Fabrice de Dongo
Media Relations Manager National Police Federation media@npf-fpn.com
647-274-7118

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