A political scientist says there is virtue in clearly defining the difference between government oversight of law enforcement and the independence of police, although it is not as straightforward as some witnesses at a public inquiry have suggested.
The concept of police oversight and independence came up time and again over six weeks of fact-finding testimony at the Public Order Emergency Commission, which is investigating the federal Liberal government’s use of the Emergencies Act last winter.
Throughout the inquiry hearings, police and politicians described a separation between police operations and policy, and said politicians and police boards should never direct operations.
RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki suggested during her testimony that government should more clearly define the line that politicians should not cross in legislation.
The line was often described as a separation between church and state.
Guelph University’s Prof. Kate Puddister tells the commission, which is now in its policy phase, that too stark a distinction is unhelpful, lacks nuance, and allows politicians to “shirk responsibility” when it comes to police oversight.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2022.