Douglas Quan (Postmedia News) – Despite an auditor-general’s report this week that suggested the RCMP needs to pare down its services and focus on core duties, one thing the force is not willing to give up is the promotion of its heritage in Canada and abroad.
According to the RCMP’s 2011-12 plans-and-priorities report posted online Friday, the force will be spending $11.3 million annually over the next three years pushing the RCMP “brand.”
The report says it is “essential that the RCMP’s icons be promoted as symbols of Canada internationally.
“Icons such as the Red Serge and the Musical Ride are distinct and unique symbols that provide the Government of Canada and the RCMP with a concrete way of engaging stakeholders and developing sustainable relationships based on trust,” the report states.
The Musical Ride’s three-dozen riders and horses tour across the country and abroad four to six months each year, according to the report. RCMP officers also appear in ceremonial dress at special events, such as Olympic Games, international summits and expos.
The RCMP also has licensing agreements for the commercial use of the RCMP image.
“The RCMP will continue to focus on maintaining the value of the brand by collaborating with partners to participate in events that generate local, national and international attention and project a positive image for Canada,” the report states.
Robert Gordon, director of the criminology school at Simon Fraser University, said Friday he would prefer that the money be spent on fighting organized crime.
“I guess the strategy is to refurbish the RCMP’s tarnished image by buying paint and Brasso rather than following through with the recommendations of several major reports that point to the structural decay in the organization and the need for massive changes,” he wrote in an email. “This is the equivalent of buying new curtains for a collapsing house in the hope that somehow it will make a difference.”
A report Thursday from Canada’s auditor-general found that the RCMP has been taking money out of investigations into organized crime and other areas in order to cover for financial gaps in its delivery of national police services, such as forensic evidence analysis and the updating of criminal-record databases.
The report found that during the 2010-2011 fiscal year, the RCMP’s federal and international operations directorate — which oversees organized crime investigations, border integrity and drug enforcement — reduced its budget by more than eight per cent or $47 million.
Sgt. Greg Cox, an RCMP spokesman in Ottawa, said in an email Friday that “actively promoting the RCMP showcases to Canadians our values and standards” and helps to build positive relationships with Canadians. All international travel is done on a cost-recovery basis.
He added that funds raised through the sale of products bearing the RCMP image are donated to programs that support at-risk youth.