Yukon gov’t supports opposition motion to hire more police

RCMP investigators at the scene of what police called a suspicious death, in Whitehorse in February. (Chris Windeyer/CBC)

RCMP need more resources to tackle drug trade, organized crime, says Yukon Party MLA

The Yukon government and the Official Opposition are on the same page when it comes to policing resources in the territory — with both saying the territory needs more front-line officers.

The governing Liberals supported a motion tabled on Wednesday by Yukon Party MLA Brad Cathers, which “urges the Yukon government to increase resources and funding to the RCMP to support the hiring of additional front-line police officers.”

The motion does not specify how much more money should go to police, nor how many more officers should be hired.

Cathers argued that Yukon’s population has grown in recent years, along with rates of drug crime and property crime, and police funding has not kept pace. He said drug trafficking and organized crime are growing problems.

“Going after the illegal drug dealers responsible for selling these illegal and often toxic drugs, and profiting from the harm that it causes to their fellow citizens requires police actions,” Cathers said in the legislative assembly.

“Part of the solution is that the RCMP need more resources.”

‘Going after the illegal drug dealers … requires police actions,’ said Yukon Party MLA Brad Cathers as he tabled the motion on Wednesday. (Vincent Bonnay/Radio-Canada)

Justice Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee responded by suggesting the Yukon Party’s motion was cynical and irresponsible, as the party had voted against the last territorial budget which included more funding for RCMP.

“Clearly, public safety and the public trust in the RCMP are incredibly important, but to use this Legislature’s time to debate such an issue when — if I did bring in such budget increases — they would be ultimately not supported,” McPhee said.

“So, puzzling, yes. Irresponsible? I would say yes.”

The territorial budget tabled earlier this year included an additional $3.5 million per year in core funding for the police. Some of the funding was to go toward 7.5 new full-time staff positions, including some front-line officers. Some of the money would also go toward new equipment or training.

Fourth Ave. in Whitehorse was closed off during a police investigation in February. (Chris Windeyer/CBC)

Cathers said his party voted against the territorial budget not because of the RCMP funding, but because “the Official Opposition typically votes against the government on budget bills since they are confidence votes.”

The opposition motion ultimately passed on Wednesday, with all Liberal and Yukon Party MLAs voting in favour; while the three NDP MLAs voted against.

NDP Leader Kate White said she’d rather see more money go toward health care, housing, education, and social programs.

“We can’t police our way out of the societal failures that government after government after government has created here in the territory and in Canada as a whole,” White said.

“More police isn’t the answer to poverty reduction; more police isn’t the answer to homelessness; more police is not the answer to trauma. So we have to figure out a better way than just looking at policing.”

Related stories from around the North: 

Finland: Police response times up to an hour slower in Arctic Finland, Yle News

Norway: Police in Arctic Norway say helicopter now needed for border surveillance, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Police in northern Sweden forced to cover for missing security guards, Radio Sweden

United States: U.S. Justice Dept. awards $42 million in tribal grants to fight crime, help victims in rural Alaska, Alaska Public Media

CBC News

For more news from Canada visit CBC News.

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

Leave a Reply

Note: By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that Radio Canada International has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Radio Canada International does not endorse any of the views posted. Your comments will be pre-moderated and published if they meet netiquette guidelines.
Netiquette »

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *