NEWS RELEASE · 23rd January 2010
MP Nathan Cullen - Ottawa
Today New Democrat MP Nathan Cullen (Skeena- Buckley Valley) will join some of the world’s leading experts on police accountability in Vancouver to discuss the serious problem of deaths in custody and what can be done about it.
The public panel discussion, organized by the B.C. Civil Liberties Association and hosted at the Vancouver International Film Centre, will feature international and Canadian speakers examining issues of police oversight and accountability.
Cullen will participate in the event to learn from the experience of deaths-in-custody in other countries and to speak about for his proposed law to change RCMP oversight. In November of 2009, Cullen introduced the RCMP Oversight Act (Bill C-472), which would create a Civilian Investigation Service empowered to conduct investigations following death or serious bodily harm occurring in RCMP custody.
The legislation responds to a series of high profile deaths in custody and to the erosion of public confidence in Canada’s national police force. It echoes calls from civil liberties organizations and leading public figures for much needed reform of the country’s police oversight and accountability system.
The introduction of the bill prompted RCMP Commissioner William Elliott to publicly declare that the RCMP no longer wants to investigate itself. The bill has garnered support from Members of Parliament in all three opposition parties. Then Minister of Public Safety Peter Van Loan was also quoted as not opposing the initiative.
Harper has since appointed Vic Toews as head of the ministry and tasked him with a major review of the country’s public safety policies, which does not seem to include self-investigations in its mandate.
“I sincerely hope that this government is finally prepared to look at the problem of RCMP self investigations,” said Cullen, “The current system is broken and it is hurting both the public and frontline officers. So far, this government has shown no willingness to act.”
“I am excited about engaging with some of the world’s leading experts and refining the proposal for a legislative solution to this problem. It is the Mounties’ job to enforce the laws as we write them. It is time to stop letting them down and remove them from all doubt by ensuring independent civilian investigations.”
Deaths In Custody, a Panel Discussion, will take place in the Vancity Theatre at the Vancouver International Film Centre from 7:00 – 10:00pm.