By Medicine Hat News Opinion on October 10, 2020.
Even if the United Conservatives decide not to replace the RCMP following a $2-million panel taking a look at it, Albertans who live where they patrol will soon pay 13 times what they do now.
If, however, the UCP decides to go through with its plan to start up Alberta’s very own provincial police force, it will have – at minimum – an added $112.4 million in annual operating costs to dump in your lap.
According to page 34 of the UCP’s own Fair Deal Panel report, Alberta currently pays $262.4 million a year for RCMP services, while the feds cover $112.4 million (a figure that apparently doesn’t account for vehicle costs or the operation of 117 detachment offices, taking Ottawa’s contribution north of $150 million).
But here’s the kicker: At the bottom of the page, in the finest of prints, the UCP’s own information states that rural municipalities currently kick in $15.4 million, and by 2023 that figure will rise to $60.3 million. By 2024?
“The total contribution from small and rural municipalities will be $200. 6 million.”
That’s the government’s own report, and yes, that’s an astronomical 13 times what those communities pay now – and that’s assuming we keep the RCMP. If we replace them with a provincial police force, someone has to cover that extra $150 million Ottawa no longer provides.
Any bets on who gets the bill?
The UCP never stops bragging about its fiscal intelligence, and its members treated every single cent the NDP spent as an assault on the province. So, I just thought you might like to know your government’s big plan to save Alberta is to download so many costs onto the rural municipalities that elected them that it will soon threaten their very existence.
Good thing I live in the city, I guess. Moving on.
If a party that prides itself on fiscal responsibility – no matter how falsely applied a term it is – is willing to ignore the financial burden that “broke” Alberta or its citizens would have to endure to replace the RCMP, there must be reason for it that transcends fiscal prudence.
There must be some benefit that vastly outweighs the additional hardships our grandchildren will face as they pick up a third job to cover those insurmountable debt-servicing fees we keep hearing about.
A government press release this week gave four main reasons for replacing the RCMP, apparently derived from town hall meetings across Alberta. Those included the fail-safe mention of “bureaucracy,” a so-called “heavy-handed” approach to gun laws and an outdated complaint that RCMP officers lack a real connection to Alberta.
But the one critics are jumping on is this:
“(RCMP) members are unable or unwilling to confront activists.”
And there it is, packaged as always, as public desire. Notice the effort to make this seem like an idea provided by Albertans, but also notice that the Fair Deal survey of more than 42,000 people showed that only 35% felt provincial police would actually help Alberta’s national standing, which was the entire reason for the panel’s existence in the first place.
And while we’re noticing things, let’s not forget previous chess-like moves such as Bill 32 and Bill 1, which not only strip workers of rights like overtime pay, they strip away their right to organized assembly and strike action. You might be able to convince yourself that the “activists” referred to by the UCP are just those pesky green-left environmentalists who block train tracks, but surely you can see why certain Albertans are afraid the “activist” will soon refer to them.
I mean, let’s face it. Train-track blocking over oil production isn’t exactly an issue in Alberta; we had one blocked near Edmonton once that lasted all of five hours. So, when Alberta’s police force is dispatched to round up activists, are you sure you fully understand who those activists might be?
I thought Albertans liked freedom. I thought Albertans hated a meddling government. And I thought MLAs were elected to represent your needs, not theirs.
Cypress-Medicine Hat MLA Drew Barnes can’t do an interview without mentioning how Alberta needs to be the “strongest and freest place in North America.” He constantly brings up the need for “free enterprise”, “more room for families” and “smaller government.”
Apparently, Barnes can barely count his properties without the interrupting pierce of guilt that Alberta’s spending choices have left for “future generations,” and yet he can’t bloody wait to start up an ultra expensive provincial police force. Now, why would that be? Why would he, of all people, advocate for adding this burden to families? Why would he, of all people, advocate for expanding government expenditures?
The fact is, people like Drew Barnes and the United Conservatives like the idea of a provincial police force because it would mean more control. It’s just that simple.
Control of narrative? Yes. Control of property rights? You bet. Control of dissent? Absolutely.
Of course, they’ll tell you “control” just means keeping Ottawa’s bureaucrats out of our lives, or protecting your gun rights, or ensuring our economy doesn’t suffer at the hands of environmentalists. But when all is said and done, just remember that Alberta’s provincial cops won’t be here to police Ottawa, they’ll be here to police you.
And right now the only people telling you it’s a good idea are the ones who used the fine print to tell you who’s paying for it.
Scott Schmidt is the layout editor for the Medicine Hat News. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org