REGINA — The first woman to ever be permanently appointed to lead the RCMP promised Friday to leave no stone unturned in her efforts to modernize a law-enforcement organization that remains plagued by complaints of sexism, workplace bullying and discrimination against Indigenous Peoples.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed Friday the appointment of 31-year veteran Brenda Lucki as the Mounties’ new commissioner, a move he said will promote gender equality and address harassment in the workplace at the national police force.
“I will not have all the answers, but I definitely plan on asking all the right questions. And maybe some difficult ones,” Lucki told a gathering at the RCMP training academy in Regina shortly after her appointment was announced.
“I plan to challenge assumptions, seek explanations and better understand the reasons how we operate. This means that no stone will be left unturned. And if what we find works, then we carry on until we unearth the issues that need addressing.”
Trudeau highlighted Lucki’s background working with Indigenous groups, including her induction into the Order of Merit of the Police Forces for her efforts to improve relations with First Nations in northern Manitoba.
Friday’s appointment comes at a time when the force’s relations with Indigenous communities are particularly strained.
Last month’s acquittal of Saskatchewan farmer Gerald Stanley in the shooting death of Indigenous youth Colten Boushie sparked accusations of bias against Indigenous people by police and in the justice system.
Trudeau was criticized in the days following the ruling for tweeting his support for the Boushie family — a sentiment from which he did not shy away when asked about it on Friday.
“I think it is impossible to look at the situation in our justice system and not recognize that our system has not fairly treated Indigenous people over the past decades — over the past centuries, even,” he said.
“That is why we are pledging to do better. To recognize these challenges is the first step.”
Lucki has contributed to United Nations missions in both the former Yugoslavia and in Haiti, and has served as commanding officer of the RCMP training academy at Regina’s Depot division since 2016.
She was awarded the United National Force Commander’s commendation for bravery, two UN protection forces medals and the Canadian peacekeeping service medal.
Trudeau described Lucki as an exceptional leader known for her hard work and tireless efforts to improve the status quo.
“She will also play a vital role in advancing reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples, promoting gender equality and equity, supporting mental wellness across the RCMP, addressing workplace harassment and protecting the civil liberties of all Canadians,” he said.
Lucki is the first woman to be named RCMP commissioner on a permanent basis; Beverley Busson was interim leader for six months in 2007.
The appointment follows last year’s creation of an independent, non-partisan selection committee, led by former New Brunswick premier Frank McKenna, which earlier this year recommended three contenders for the top job.
The force has continued to face embarrassing revelations about sexism and sexual misconduct in RCMP ranks, even one year after then-commissioner Bob Paulson apologized for discrimination against female officers and agreed to a $100-million settlement of two class-action lawsuits.
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, who was also in Regina on Friday, described the RCMP as undergoing a period of transformation to modernize its culture and bolster public confidence.
“Internal challenges — like abuses of power, allegations of racial bias, infringements on civil liberties, bullying and workplace harassment — have harmed the RCMP’s reputation and damaged the morale of its members,” he said.
Geordon Omand, The Canadian Press