The chair of Halifax’s Board of Police Commissioners and the municipal chief administrative officer recently returned from an in-depth tour of the RCMP’s training facility in Regina.

The RCMP trains all of its cadets at its Academy Division, better known as depot, in Regina, SK. The Mass Casualty Commission’s final report recommended phasing out the depot model by 2032, and implementing a three-year degree program for new police officers across Canada.

Coun. Becky Kent and CAO Cathie O’Toole returned from a short trip to depot last Tuesday. O’Toole said Halifax-district RCMP Chief Supt. Jeff Christie arranged for the invitation.

“That was quite an honour. I don’t think very many people probably get to see the inside of the facility and learn about how it works,” O’Toole said in an interview Tuesday.

O’Toole said she and Kent learned about how the RCMP recruits and trains its members.

“And also one of the things we were interested in is what they’re teaching people in terms of resilience and psychological health and safety,” O’Toole said.

Kent said she had been to depot once before, during a trip to the Canadian Association of Police Governance last year.

“I didn’t have the in-depth opportunity that this one gave me,” Kent said in an interview Tuesday.

“We’re seeing things around the Mass Casualty [Commission] on training and that sort of thing. So we went to see it firsthand. We have to ask those questions, spend some time with those who are also reflecting on what that position was for the depot perspective and what their training modules are, all of the depth of it.”

Closing depot would be a ‘shame,’ says board chair

Kent said the MCC recommendation to phase out the depot was “large” and “unexpected.”

“I’m not sure the degree of which they had the insight into it. My understanding from depot folks is that they had no conversations with them. No one had visited there,” Kent said.

Losing the infrastructure alone would be a “shame,” Kent said. She noted the MCC’s recommendation to implement a three-year degree program could work in tandem with depot.

“One of the things I learned there is that the depot also has relationships with universities to add into their elements, and people who train that depot can transfer credits to a university degree and things like that. So there’s opportunities to flush that out more,” she said.

The trip came out of the CAO’s budget, Kent said. She doesn’t know what it cost.

Councillors continue integrated HRP-RCMP debate

The trip comes as HRM is reconsidering its relationship with RCMP.

During their meeting on Tuesday, councillors voted to send the Policing Transformation Study to the Board of Police Commissioners.

That study found HRM has a dual policing model, with Halifax Regional Police and RCMP, not the integrated model long touted by the forces. It recommended better integrating the two, with a joint leadership office and more interoperability.

Councillors questioned last month whether that’s feasible due to the RCMP’s historical resistance to reform. On Tuesday, they voted to put a time limit on the work. They asked for a staff report back in 18 months “regarding the viability of achieving an integrated policing model.”

A young white man with a dark beard, looking seriously at the viewer in a black and white photo

Zane Woodford

Zane Woodford is the Halifax Examiner’s municipal reporter. He covers Halifax City Hall and contributes to our ongoing PRICED OUT housing series. Twitter @zwoodford

Join the Conversation


Only subscribers to the Halifax Examiner may comment on articles. We moderate all comments. Be respectful; whenever possible, provide links to credible documentary evidence to back up your factual claims. Please read our Commenting Policy.
  1. Some troubling perspectives emerge from this interview of Coun. Kent. First, why wouldn’t the Chair of the Police Commission already be aware, before the tour, of the fact that “…depot also has relationships with universities”? This is widely known. Second,and more troubling, is this statement by Kent: “I’m not sure the degree of {to} which they (the MCC) had insight into it (the program at the depot).” Really, the commissioners ,which included a retired,senior police officer, would not be aware. The testimony given during the Commission hearings did not so inform?

    Even us run of the mill lay people expected that RCMP training of 26 weeks duration would be a focus of the Commission and would manifest in recommendations in their end report. To question the thoroughness and rigor of the commission with regard to training received by the RCMP cadets is way off base.”Unexpected”-no, fully expected.

    1. The Board Chair seems to go to great lengths to defend the status quo. Does she have any personal relationships with the RCMP?