The last few years have been tough for the RCMP in this province. A series of deaths in custody, the notorious Robert Dziekanski incident, their failure to notice Robert Pickton's crimes and the lack of civilian oversight have left public confidence in the Mounties at an all-time low.
So it's no surprise that the talks to renew the RCMP contract in B.C. have become so politicized. While the real sticking point is a serious one - cost control for local government - the whole process has become a needless exercise in sabre rattling. The federal government is threatening to walk away, and the province is threatening to show them the door and establish a provincial police force.
Pause for a moment to think about the basic start-up costs. At the most basic level, signs and uniforms and vehicles in virtually every community would have to be changed. But the officers themselves would likely be the same ones, simply rehired by the shiny new BCPP. While it's possible that we would end up with a force closer to the ideal - more affordable and accountable - it's also possible we'll have largely the same force in an expensive new wrapper.
There are problems with the RCMP in this province, but throwing the baby out with the bath water is not the answer. We have found a way to coexist and collaborate with a huge number of federal agencies that affect almost every aspect of our lives. There is simply no good reason that we can't negotiate a solution with this one.