Canada's Public Safety Minister Vic Toews is OK with Mounties having their own watering hole built into the RCMP's new "E" Division headquarters in Green Timbers.
"I am satisfied that because of some of the social occasions that occur inside these headquarters it is warranted, but I expect it to be dealt with appropriately if there is any potential for abuse," Toews said.
"Certainly no on-duty officers can be served liquor and the RCMP officers themselves provision and pay for that officers' mess."
Toews was in Surrey to discuss RCMP accountability. Namely, Bill C-42, the proposed Enhancing RCMP Accountability Act, which, according to a federal government press release, "will advance the Government's commitment to modernizing the RCMP and strengthen its accountability to Canadians."
Roughly 2,700 RCMP personnel are expected to move into the force's new "E" Division headquarters next year, at 14200 Green Timbers Way in Surrey. Like the old headquarters on Vancouver's Heather Street, the new building will have a "mess hall" for off-duty Mounties. Surrey's will have 500 seats.
"This is not divergent from past practice and it has not been identified as a problem," Toews told the Now. "I can assure you that if there is a problem in that respect, I would expect the commissioner to deal with it."
The proposed liquor licence would see the mess hall operated like a private club and serve liquor from 11 a.m. to midnight Sundays through Thursdays and 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
Toews said he was "somewhat taken aback" to hear liquor would be served that early in the day, but said he then learned the hours are simply those identified under the terms of the licence to be provided by the liquor board.
Toews said it's his understanding there are "standing orders" to restrict opening the RCMP mess hall in Surrey for liquor service to later on in the day. "I believe it's 3: 30 p.m. or 4 o'clock," he said.
Meanwhile, Toews said the new RCMP accountability act will create a "single, seamless and comprehensive" process for dealing with sexual harassment complaints within the force. It will also establish a new framework for criminal investigations involving Mounties, and replace the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP with a "modern and independent" Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP.
Toews said the act puts the onus on local RCMP commanders to make sure discipline is meted out within a reasonable deadline.
"I want to make sure that an RCMP officer who is not behaving himself or herself is dealt with in a timely fashion and that there is a duty on the commander to deal with that issue in a timely fashion," he said. "The legislation itself holds these commanders responsible so they can't simply sweep things under the rug."