There’s a certain irony, I suppose, to Alberta’s justice minister piously insisting “the commissioner of the RCMP must be held to the highest of standards” while he himself faces an investigation into whether he breached the Law Society’s code of conduct early next year. 

RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki (Photo: Royal Canadian Mounted Police).

But the frequently irascible Mr. Shandro’s performative handwringing about RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki yesterday was all part of the United Conservative Party’s campaign to replace the Mounties as Alberta’s provincial police with a more expensive but presumably more pliable provincially run force. 

This recycled policy proposal from Stephen Harper’s sovereignist 2001 manifesto, the notorious Firewall Letter, is broadly unpopular with rural and urban Albertans alike, a point of frustration to the UCP under former premier Jason Kenney and even more so now under Premier Danielle Smith, the Sovereignty Queen of Wild Rose Country. 

Given the UCP’s history and attitudes about policing, it’s hard to believe Mr. Shandro’s first complaint in his opportunistic news release yesterday that the RCMP Commissioner “has failed to deal with the RCMP’s history of systemic racism in a forthright and public manner” is really a priority of the current Alberta government. 

Demanding that federal Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino fire Commissioner Lucki, Mr. Shandro also cranked up some faux outrage that the commissioner “risked the integrity” of the inquiry into the 2020 mass shooting in Nova Scotia. This is a harder case to make unless you’re an aggrieved gun nut.

Alert readers will understand that Mr. Shandro is not complaining about the RCMP’s appalling handling of the Nova Scotia shootings while that tragedy was unfolding, but about Commissioner Lucki’s entirely legitimate decision to describe the kind of weapons being used – a revelation verboten in right-wing cancel culture. 

Alberta’s sovereignist premier, Danielle Smith (Photo: Alberta Newsroom/Flicker).

In addition, he complained that she “failed to inform the federal cabinet of all law enforcement options available prior to the decision to invoke the Emergencies Act,” a tendentious claim that should be left to the the statutory commission into that crisis, which may reach a different conclusion given what we’ve heard to date. 

Mr. Mendicino “stood idly by while Commissioner Lucki has failed to meet even the most meagre of standards for the past two years,” Mr. Shandro opined huffily.

“This is an abrogation of the minister’s core responsibility to Canadians and must be rectified before the RCMP’s reputation as Canada’s federal police service is further damaged,” he continued, doing his best to impugn the reputation of the RCMP, the better to replace it with something even worse.

A closely related aspect of the Smith Government’s anti-Ottawa strategy was found not far away, literally three new releases later in yesterday’s stream of pre-election campaign announcements on the province’s Alberta.ca website. 

Amendments introduced Tuesday to the federal government’s latest firearms control legislation had the UCP in a frenzy, presumably in hopes of keeping Alberta’s sizeable community of fans of firearms, particularly ones that look like assault rifles, on side. They are, after all, a key component of the party’s increasingly radicalized base.

Former Alberta premier Jason Kenney (Photo: Alberta Newsroom/Flicker).

Mr. Shandro’s statement alleged, falsely, that the Ottawa’s Bill C-21 “will lead to the most sweeping and arbitrary ban in Canadian history” that “will not only be unenforceable but will criminalize hundreds of thousands of Canadians.”

Whether or not it’s unenforceable remains to be seen, but it will only criminalize those gun owners who choose not to obey the law. 

The statement then moved on to its real point, to wit: We’re here for you, gun people! 

“The federal government is clearly seeking to ban legal firearm ownership altogether,” Mr. Shandro’s statement concluded, also falsely. “In the coming weeks, Alberta will explore all available options to take action.”

That’s probably a reference to Ms. Smith’s still unseen Sovereignty (But Actually Proudly Canadian or Something) Act, which will allow Alberta to unconstitutionally ignore federal laws without violating the Canadian Constitution … or whatever. 

We await the appearance of this miraculous piece of legislation for further analysis.

Federal Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino (Photo: Government of Canada).

It is important to note that as mass shootings continue with metronomic regularity in the United States, evidence keeps piling up with the bodies that the principal difference between the U.S. and other countries is the number of guns in circulation. As the New York Times reported in 2017, “the only variable that can explain the high rate of mass shootings in America is its astronomical number of guns.”

Finding co-operation with the gun lobby political expedient, the UCP, apparently, is willing to risk same fate for Alberta. 

In the meantime, back in Ottawa, Mr. Mendicino told reporters: “I have confidence, and the government has confidence, in Commissioner Lucki.” In other words, Get lost, Shandro! 

Mr. Shandro’s Law Society hearing is scheduled to take place from Jan. 24 to 26 in Calgary. It will look into three controversial incidents in 2020 when he was minister of health. 

In one, the Law Society’s summary of the case says, it’s alleged went to a neighbour’s home and “behaved inappropriately by engaging in conduct that brings the reputation of the profession into disrepute.”

Another allegation says Mr. Shandro “used his position as Minister of Health to obtain personal cell phone numbers” and “contacted one or more members of the public outside of regular working hours using that information.”

The third says he “responded to an email from a member of the public addressed to his wife by threatening to refer that individual to the authorities if they did not address future correspondence to his office as Minister of Health.”

Join the Conversation

27 Comments

  1. Shandro seems to have successfully transitioned from being Kenney’s pit bull to being Smith’s. With the UCP, it seems the more things change, the more they stay the same. It seems belligerence is still in fashion.

    I don’t think its an improvement that Shandro has moved on from attacking doctors, other medical professionals and his neighbours, to attacking the RCMP and its Commissioner, but I suppose it fits in well with the agenda of the current premier. To its credit, the Federal government did not fire back with the names of problematic provincial officials that it would be a good idea to replace. If they did, then perhaps Shandro could be close to the top of the list. No, here the Feds smartly decided to “stay in their lane”.

    The UCP government seems determined to undermine and destroy its relationship with the Federal government, if only to prove its own position that Federalism can not work. Although, as the old saying goes sometimes when you keep on throwing dirt, you just end up losing ground.

    It certainly is premature to judge what the inquiry will conclude, if anything, about Ms. Lucki’s role in the Emergencies Act being used. Who knows if this last supposed minute police coordination would have worked or not, but I suspect she read the room correctly and realized by that point the time for other approaches had passed.

    However trashing Lucki certainly fits in with the Fed hating UCP agenda, who also seem to be trying to appeal to those afraid the RCMP might take away their guns or something. So, its just another front in the battle for power between the UCP and the Federal government .

    Of course, there is also a cost to more power. If Alberta wants a provincial police force, it will likely have to pay millions more for it. Perhaps at this point in the boom and bust cycle the province feels rich enough to do so, but one has to wonder if that money might be better spent on other things that matter more to most Albertans, say like fixing health care. Surely, Shandro would have some knowledge of the problems with health care from his previous ministerial role.

  2. Thanks DJC ….
    my one question is, was there anything further on the controversy about Vital Health, owned by him and his wife Andrea….private health insurance corporation ,which stands to profit from reduced senior drug coverage ,switched from biologics* to biosimilars* and generally from increased care privatization….
    * ?? I haven’t been able to access any further info.
    If you can help, would sincerely appreciate it…Thanks

  3. You know I used to know Tyler Shandro when he was a law student at the University of Calgary and he seemed like a pretty good guy. After his decision to become a UCP MLA and his poor performance as Health Minister has coloured my view of him. I certainly don’t feel sorry for the trouble he is in because he and his government have made their beds and they now have to sleep in them.

  4. I look at Shandro’s thinly veiled effort to discredit the RCMP and cast the notion of a provincial police force has got to be one of the most cockamamy ideas to have ever fallen out of his gaping mouth…sans the Skittles, of course. And Shandro has an issue with the RCMP’s practice of systemic racism and a whole bunch of other complaints that many right-wingers would call woke. So, he doesn’t like the way the feds handle law enforcement, so he’s to do it himself.

    Once Alberta gets the sticker shock from setting up and financing its own police force, one wonders what comes next. Maurice Duplessis used the Quebec Police Force as his own partisan muscle to bust the unions and keep the radicals in line, people like Pierre Elliot Trudeau and Rene Levesque, and assure that his quaint province forever remained under his devout Catholic thumb. Apparently, there’s a grand statue of Duplessis that is crated up and prevented from public view in a warehouse, for fear that thousands would want Le Grand Chef’s head on a platter. Even after all these years, Duplessis remains hated.

    Danielle Smith is toying with some very dark forces.

  5. It is richly entertaining to see an abject right wing failure like Shandro demanding anyone else be fired. Perhaps he needs to start yelling from the end of Commissioner Lucki’s driveway?

    1. There have been legitimate concern raised in a number of quarters a bit Commissioner Lucki’s tenure as Canada’s top Mountie. But Tyler Shandro calling for her professional head is one of the strongest arguments for her keeping her job.

  6. You see, things will be so much better in Alberta when Yosemite Sam and his sidekick Quick Draw McGraw become president and V.P. Academic of the new Alberta Provincial Police College in Fort Macleod. Obviously, it has to be in Fort Macleod, because that’s where it was going to be until the Conservatives cancelled it. Read Jonathan Denis’s comments here:

    https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/provincial-police-college-cancellation-shocks-fort-macleod-1.1176831

    That was 10 years ago. The People of Fort Macleod were mighty upset with the reasoning that it was not financially viable and that it would not add anything to the quality of policing in this province, so obviously that’s why it has to happen now. Aren’t we supposed to forget all the things that were said in the past, dagnabbit?

    There is another reason, too. The RCMP put the “Fort” in Macleod, so this is the perfect way to rub their noses in it. These days those boys in Fort Macleod are not happy with the RCMP, no sir, for some other reason that escapes me at the moment. That’s because we all have a mandate as citizens of Alberta to collectively forget everything from the day before. Promise made, promise kept!

    I hear Deputy Dawg is out of work at the moment, so he might be interested in an offer as chair-critter of the board.

  7. Meanwhile the BC government announces an unprecedented 230 million dollar RCMP funding increase to improve policing province wide and in rural and remote areas. Alberta rural physicians and force members will be keeping the moving companies heading west.

  8. In keeping with the Reform Party Policies they don’t create jobs they destroy them. The former MLAs from the Lougheed era certainly had it right. While they help the rich steal the peoples wealth in an effort to buy votes, not one single one of them is smart enough to suggest they should be following in Peter Lougheed’s footprints. They certainly aren’t interested in looking after the well-being of all the people. Looking after themselves and their rich friends is all they care about.

    1. Alan K. Spiller: You certainly have it right. I also see this as a major attempt by Tyler Shandro and the UCP to distract from the UCP’s very big shortcomings. If rural municipal leaders in Alberta have explicitly told the UCP that they do not want a provincial police force for Alberta, why isn’t Danielle Smith listening to their concerns? Where will the rural municipalities in Alberta get the minimum $1 billion that is needed for this provincial police force? The former leader of the UCP is under investigation by the R.C.M.P into his leadership race, so this is why the UCP wants the R.C.M.P gone. It’s a deflection from what is happening in Alberta, under the UCP. Furthermore, why is a provincial cabinet minister in Alberta trying to meddle in a federal government matter? These pretend conservatives and Reformers like to talk tough, but they can’t do anything sensible. Yes, we never saw this level of stupidity under Peter Lougheed.

  9. The Firewall Letter was published in 2001, not 2021, and I’m sure you know that. That mistype and a few apparently missing words scattered through the post indicate that you lacked the appropriate stimulants when you proofread it. Admittedly proofreading one’s own work is always a challenge. Otherwise, and excellent post.

  10. The RCMP policing of Alberta (and other western provinces) is heavily subsidized by all Canadian taxpayers. That needs to stop. These provinces, which are in a much better financial situation than where I live (Ontario), can and should pay their own way. The OPP is 100% paid for by the citizenry of Ontario. Alberta should be no different. Additionally, the RCMP, which is chronically understaffed, would benefit from a reduction in its responsibilities. It could then focus on fulfilling a federal policing mandate.

  11. Minister Crybully Shandro statements are more foaming on the UCP separtiste (I’d rather refer to the as what PET Snr did – “petty blackmailers”) agenda. Its lovely to see the UCP dig this little hole for themselves and their rump supporters. Those who are ignorant of history are, well, ignorant of history. The RCMP are Alberta’s police force – they were formed as federal police force for the west! Those traditions and acknowledgements run deep in hearts of citizens of this province. The deluded UCP, isolated in their barking-mad RW echo-chamber are deaf, and I hope they remain deaf as the drumbeats of their political annihilation are clearly sounding – 7 months and counting folks!

  12. This all started 30 years ago ,so it only makes sense the power grab is extended and here today ,all those years grooming the demise of RCMP is finally paying off ,
    Just have to have an understanding of manufactured chaos ,Portapique is a good start of nobody’s jurisdiction

  13. We know what this government thinks of RCMP ,been investing in making them present incompetent and disoriented,not to mention no regard for their security,safety and liberty
    I yield back on this topic

  14. The whole voice risen on Provincial police vs RCMP is interesting,
    All I heard is “RCMP”don’t show up so Provincial Police are the answer
    Really ? Even my MPs offices can’t give reason beyond their lazy ,unbelievable but true

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.