Royal Commission of Inquiry into Certain Activities of the RCMP
The Royal Commission of Inquiry into Certain Activities of the RCMP, better known as the McDonald Commission, was a Royal Commission called by the Canadian government of Pierre Trudeau to investigate the Royal Canadian Mounted Police after a number of illegal activities by the RCMP Security Service came to light in the 1970s. The Commission, Judge David Cargill McDonald, was established on 6 July 1977 and issued its final report in 1981.
During the 1970 October Crisis, the Front de libération du Québec (FLQ) killed Quebec cabinet minister Pierre Laporte and caused Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau to invoke the War Measures Act. Despite having provided good intelligence to law enforcement agencies on the FLQ threat, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), and more specifically, the RCMP Security Service responsible for both national security intelligence and national security policing at the time, was blamed for failing to prevent the crisis. Hurt by the criticism, the RCMP Security Service began a pattern of illegal activities in an attempt to prevent any similar incidents from occurring in the lead up to and during the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal.
The cause of the McDonald Commission was accidental; a former RCMP member on trial for bombing a private residence offered in his defence that he had done much worse things while serving on the RCMP Security Service, including having broken into the press office used by left-wing Quebec groups to steal membership lists. In response to these allegations, the McDonald Commission was created to investigate and report on the extent of RCMP wrongdoing.
The McDonald Commission examined a number of allegations made against the RCMP, including its theft of the membership list of the Parti Québécois, several break-ins; illegal opening of mail; burning a barn in Quebec where the Black Panther Party and Front de libération du Québec were rumoured to be planning a rendezvous; forging documents; and conducting illegal electronic surveillance.
Reports and findings
The Commission produced three reports:
- First Report: Security and Information (26 November 1979)
- Second Report: Freedom and Security under the Law, 2 volumes (23 January 1981)
- Third Report: Certain R.C.M.P. Activities and the Question of Governmental Knowledge (15 May 1981)
A supplement to the third report was also published on 30 January 1984.
The Commission's reports recommended that police be required to obey the law and that judicial authorization be required before police could open mail. Its principal recommendation was to remove responsibility for national security from the RCMP and assign it to a new civilian spy agency. This recommendation was followed with the establishment of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) in 1984.
- List of cases of police brutality in Canada
- List of controversies involving the Royal Canadian Mounted Police
- National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians
- SIRC (2005). Reflections, Security Intelligence Review Committee, 2005 (ISBN 0-662-68695-0) (online: PDF, HTML)
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