Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP

Posted: January 27, 2015 by snanda4 in RCMP Accountability and Oversight

The Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (CRCC), formerly known as the Commission for Public Complaints against the RCMP, was enabled through The Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act (1988) and revised based on new legislation known as, Enhancing Royal Canadian Mounted Police Accountability Act in 2014. The Commission is an independent agency created to consider and review public complaints against members of the RCMP in regards to misconduct and harm. The commission seeks to investigate public complaints in an unbiased manner in order to find appropriate solutions fairly. However, mainly the CRCC deals with public complaints where complainants are unsatisfied with the RCMP’s informal complaint investigation and seek a review. The CRCC receives complaints, holds thorough investigations where appropriate and necessary according to the RCMP act, holds hearings, makes necessary recommendations, reports findings, and initiates policy changes.

According to, The Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act, The Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police is established, consisting of a Chairperson and not more than four other members, one of whom may be a Vice-chairperson, appointed by the Governor in Council. The organization falls under the Ministry of Public Safety Canada and all interim and final reports from the chair of the commission are sent to the Minister of Public Safety upon completion. The Chair of the CRCC has duties and powers designated through The Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act; these powers include having authority over the commission for procedural fairness and duties being handled appropriately. The Chair is also involved in the complaint review process for police accountability and essentially can initiate a complaint against a member of the RCMP, as well as help a public complaint through the complaint and review process. The organization structure consists of the following: The head of the commission, the Chair, members of the commission, the vice- chair, the executive director, the director of communications and corporate services, senior director of operations, director of reviews, director of national intake, Sr. policy advisor, and Sr. research advisor, as well as legal counsel if needed (CRCC, 2014).

The Commission strives its success on three components, their vision, mission and mandate. Their vision for success is to achieve excellence in policing through accountability. Their mission is to provide civilian oversight of RCMP members’ conduct in performing their policing duties so as to hold the RCMP accountable to the public. Their mandate includes: (1) To receive complaints from the public about the conduct of RCMP member, (2) To conduct reviews when complainants are not satisfied with the RCMP’s handling of their complaints, (2) To hold hearings and carry out investigations, and (4) To report findings and make recommendations (CRCC, 2014).

The Commission is granted legal authorities in relation to complaints through the RCMP Act. Under section, 45.65 paragraphs 1 a-d, the commission’s powers and duties include: (1) summon and enforce attendance of witnesses before the Commission and compel them to give oral or written evidence on oath and to produce any documents and things that the Commission considers relevant for the full investigation; hearing and consideration of the complaint; (2) administer oaths;

(3) Receive and accept any evidence and other information, whether on oath by affidavit or otherwise, that the Commission sees fit, whether or not that evidence or information is or would be admissible in a court of law; and (4) make any examination of records and any inquiries that the Commission considers necessary.

            The Commission deals with complaints against RCMP members in regards to their police duties and performances while on duty. If a member of the public feels an on duty RCMP member’s conduct is of any harm or concern, they can lodge a complaint. A member of the public whether a Canadian citizen, or not, is eligible to lodge a complaint. The complainant does not have to be directly involved in the incident of complaint. The Commission however does not deal with complaints surrounding administrative matters.

            The relationship between the CRCC and the RCMP is essential to the commission’s process and inner workings; the process involves a member of the public lodging a complaint either to the RCMP first, or straight to the commission. If the complaint is lodged to the RCMP and the complainant is unsatisfied with the results of their complaint, the complainant can request a review to the commission. The commission will then request all the material from RCMP based on their investigation; a review will be done of the informal RCMP process of that complaint. If the CRCC is satisfied with the RCMP investigation, the chair will send the complete report to all parties involved as well as the Minister of Public Safety, thus ending the process. If the Chair is unsatisfied with the RCMP handling of the complaint the following actions can be taken: (1) Review the complaint without further investigation; (2) Ask the RCMP to investigate further; (3) Initiate his own investigation; or (4) Hold a public hearing. In the case of the latter, the chair will create an interim report and submit the findings and recommendations to the RCMP Commissioner and the Minister of Public Safety. The RCMP Commissioner will then give notice and reasons of action or inaction based on the findings and recommendations. An important note to mention is that these recommendations and findings are not legally binding, meaning it isn’t necessary for the RCMP Commissioner to comply and reasons must be stated. The chair will then receive this notice and compile a final report, which will be sent to the RCMP Commissioner, the Minister of Public Safety, the complainant, and all members involved; this will end the complaint process (CRCC, 2014).

            The CRCC was brought in to replace the previous organization known as the, Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP, in order to enhance and improve transparency and accountability in regards to investigations of conduct within the RCMP organization. This enhancement is a welcome change in the eyes of the public and the powers designated to this accountability body are in part to increase public confidence within the organization itself as well as the RCMP. Since this accountability body is fairly new, public perception and reputation of the organization are yet to be fully determined.

            With the abovementioned being said, there are serious concerns that still plague the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP accountability body. Firstly, although powers of investigation are deepened, there doesn’t seem to be an issue of the accountability body’s effort to investigate complaints thoroughly. As seen in the Robert Dziekanski case, investigation regarding RCMP conduct was done adequately and recommendations and findings reflected the acceptance of grave misconduct and need for serious change. Policy changes were considered in regards to the use of tasers and police training. However, due to recommendations and findings not being legally binding, the public seems to lose confidence as they may feel a lack of justice served; Yes, the accountability aspect is in a sense achieved but there are no legal consequences resulting from the CRCC for RCMP members who are a part of incidents of serious bodily harm or death. Second, the enhancement of the CPC was an answer to the Arar Commission, which provided recommendations for a new accountability body that would improve the failures connected to the Arar incident, as well as other public inquiries, in terms of how several accountability agencies fail in collaboration and information sharing, which leads to grave misconduct, as well as tragedy. In the video provided, these issues are highlighted in greater detail, which ultimately reveal a greater need for reform.

Canada. Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Act. (2005). Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). Retrieved from

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act, (R.S.C., 1985, c. R-10) Retrieved from

Enhancing Royal Canadian Mounted Police Accountability Act, (S.C. 2013, c. 18) Retrieved from

  1. Mike Larsen says:

    This is a detailed and informative post.

    A few questions:

    You mention that “ The CRCC was brought in to replace the previous organization known as the, Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP, in order to enhance and improve transparency and accountability in regards to investigations of conduct within the RCMP organization.”.

    Do we know, at this point, whether and to what extent the rebranding of the CPC (now the CRCC) constitutes a real change, much less a replacement? It seems to me that, at this point, the basic structure of the CPC – including the process through which it handles complaints and investigations – remains largely unchanged. I am certainly interested in the new legislation, and I believe that it is taking the organization in a positive direction – but I think it is still too early to say that the existing organization has been replaced in a meaningful sense.

    Second, with regards to the investigation into the death of Mr. Dziekanski, would you say that policing reforms were the result of the RCMP / CPC investigation, or the provincial Braidwood Inquiry? The latter seemed to have a broader impact, but I would be interested to hear your impressions.

    Later in the course, we will cover the O’Connor (Arar) Commission of Inquiry, and the recommendations it made regarding RCMP accountability. At this point, I would note that the problems that gave rise to the mistreatment of Mr. Arar were inter-agency in scope. To use Brodeur’s term, they were problems associated with interactions between elements of the police assemblage. The Commission’s terms of reference focused on the role of the RCMP, but the accountability reforms that Commissioner O’Connor recommended extend to the entire Canadian national security sector.

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