By Cole Parkinson
Westwind Weekly News
After PwC completed its studies in October 2021, discussions amongst Albertans around the desire for a provincial police force have intensified.
Cardston-Siksika MLA Joseph Schow says he too has had plenty of conversations around this topic and not everyone he talks to is on the same page. PwC’s transition study was completed in a five-phase approach from October 2020 to April 30, 2021, and the five phases were ‘Envision a fit for Alberta Police Service’, ‘Define the current state capabilities, operations, and cost’, ‘Define the future model and operations’, ‘Build the roadmap to an “Event Free Day One”, and ‘Set the Foundation’.
“That goes along the lines of the questions we have been asking as we go through the constituency and people at their doors. I’m finding there are a couple of different responses,” explained Schow.
“Some of the responses are coming and I find them a bit preloaded from whatever people are hearing only from opponents of a provincial police force. I’m finding a lot of people don’t have all the details and they aren’t really sure where to go because they don’t know what the best options are.”
Questions have formed around a wide variety of topics when discussing the provincial police force. Schow says those answers haven’t all come forward from the province as of yet, but he says he’s doing his best to provide as much information as possible for all who ask.
“There’s service, there’s cost, there’s training, responsiveness, scope of responsibility — there’s a whole bunch of questions people have about what a provincial police force looks like. I am able to have those conversations and give some more detail, and in turn, help inform the public about what it would look like,” he confirmed.
Schow says he will continue to do his best to address constituent questions through door-knocking and hosting town halls, and he encourages anyone to reach out with questions about the provincial police force. Schow also touched on accusations raised against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office and the public safety minister of interfering in RCMP operations after a Nova Scotia mass shooting. Those accusations were denied by RCMP Commissioner Brena Lucki and former public safety minister Bill Blair
“I think there are still some unanswered questions and so I am doing what I can to answer those questions as we go door to door and do some of these town hall meetings that we’ve done and will be doing. It’s certainly something people are interested in because it goes back to the larger question of ‘how are we defending Alberta’s best interests?’ Unless you are living under a rock, you have seen the appearance of political influence in the investigative process in Nova Scotia — that should be cause for concern for everyone and certainly cause to take a moment and look closer at a provincial police force to ensure a police force in Alberta is responsive to Albertans and their most pressing issues,” he said.
Schow realizes the biggest question on most Albertan’s minds is what the cost will be if this plan does move forward. With things still being discussed, he says he doesn’t have a concrete answer on what costs will be.
“I’ll have to get back to you on that one. I don’t have all the answers and I know the municipalities have concerns about the cost. One of the issues I think people don’t know is the federal government has serious thoughts about moving away from contract policing and as a result, it might force the issue upon us. As much as we don’t want to increase the cost and incur more for people, we also have to recognize if the federal government is getting out of contract policing, that may put us in a situation where we don’t have a choice. At the moment, no decision has been made on it,” he said.
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