A bizarre battle between supporters of the Halifax Police Department and the RCMP played out last week, as the Halifax Board of Police Commissioners tried to wrap its head around an unlikely scenario: What would happen if the 30-percent federal subsidy to the city's contract for RCMP policing services in rural and suburban areas dried up?
On the basis of a consultant's report that was leaked to the CBC, the commission recommended to council that the HPD should take over the RCMP work, causing an uproar among RCMP supporters. Councillor Sue Uteck came down firmly on the RCMP's side, and demanded that councillor Russell Walker resign as chair of the commission. Uteck "is running for mayor," Walker said, explaining Uteck's umbrage.
The controversy was amped up another couple of degrees as council dealt with the issue with its knee-jerk response to everything: It met in secret for two days, fanning the flames of mistrust at every turn. In the end, though, council realized that in fact the feds won't take away the subsidy, and so took no action at all: the RCMP contract remains.