RCMP leaving Wagmatcook
RCMP will no longer handle policing at the Wagmatcook First Nationreserve in Cape Breton, but band council still hasn’t gotten the publicinquiry they’ve been seeking into the death of John Simon.
RCMP will no longer handle policing at the Wagmatcook First Nation reserve in Cape Breton, but band council still hasn’t gotten the public inquiry they’ve been seeking into the death of John Simon.
Nine band representatives travelled to Halifax yesterday to meet with Justice Minister Ross Landry and struck a deal to have Cape Breton Regional Police take over policing duties.
“There’s no trust in the community right now with the RCMP,” said band chief of operations Brian Arbuthnot after the meeting.
“Council is concerned about the safety of RCMP officers in the community and it was felt because we had the option of going to CBRM police that it was a better option.”
The move is fallout from the Dec. 3, 2008 shooting of Simon, 44, by an RCMP officer.
An internal report absolved the officer of wrongdoing.
Band members have been highly critical of the report, believing there may be a conflict of interest, and have demanded a public inquiry. The province has said that’s premature until the band has had a chance to read the report.
But Wagmatcook is waiting on a freedom of information request to the federal government to get their hands on it. Even then, Arbuthnot doubts it will be enough.
“We’re not optimistic we’re going to be getting a complete report. We’re going to be getting a sanitized, edited version. Really, to that end we’re not going to have the full story,” he said.
Freedom of information requests have been known to take months, but Landry said the province will be lobbying the federal government to release it as soon as possible.
Cape Breton Regional Police will take over for the RCMP for at least three years, starting in April. It will cost the province and feds $623,000 per year jointly, up from $477,000. The increase is due to a staff increase of four person-years instead of three.