Commission on missing, murdered Indigenous women has become a fortress of bureaucratic incompetence

Neil Macdonald on what appears to be a morass.

His alternative solution of giving money to the RCMP to do an investigation has its appeal but doesn’t acknowledge the the RCMP’s management challenges:

Indeed, as of March 23, the commission had spent about ten per cent, or about $5 million, of its $53-million budget. Of that, 29 per cent was spent on salaries, and 71 per cent, about $3.6 million, was sucked up by travel ($500,000) and, more expensively, administration, a lot of it provided by the Privy Council Office, in the form of “corporate overhead, legal services, interpretation and translation.”

Whatever that means.

Still, the commission is largely the master of its own house.

It could be subpoenaing police records, and compelling police executives to testify about how the Mounties and other forces deal, or don’t deal, with reports of missing or murdered Indigenous women, or explaining accounts of gross abuse and neglect of victims.

It could be talking constantly to the Indigenous public, reassuring and reaching out to them. It could be holding public hearings across the country and holding governments accountable.

Instead, it’s apparently decided not to undertake any hearings this summer, knowing its interim report is due in the fall, a deadline it will almost certainly miss.

So, again, let me suggest a more direct approach.

Prime Minister Trudeau could, if he wished, call in RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson and his senior management team, and tell them something like this:

“Don’t bother sitting down, officers, this will just take a few minutes.

“Here’s $10 million. And it’s just a down payment. I want you to form a cold case unit. Put some of your best investigators on it.

You have some good Indigenous officers. Use them. Get in touch with Indigenous police departments across the country.

“I want you to re-investigate every case of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls on your files. I want results. I want you to be able to tell families: ‘This is what happened to your daughter or mother. This is who did it. He’s either in prison or he’s going to prison.’

“And I want it done now. If it isn’t, the RCMP will have a different management team in a few months. Get to work.”

That might not be culturally sensitive, or even very sensitive at all, and it might take some guts, but it would probably work.

And finally, some of those families might get the justice they want.

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About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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