Saturday, February 24, 2024

Thoughts on Policing

To Whom It May Concern,

I believe that it is essential, that we step back from the present controversy of funding policing services and look at guidance from an historical perspective.

The Canadian Constitution stipulates that the Federal Criminal Law enforcement is the responsibility of the Provinces.

The protection of person and property and the enforcement of our laws MUST be available at comparable standards across Canada.

It is important to realize that ALL laws that contain the powers of arrest and carry prison terms are created at the federal and provincial levels.

Municipal councils can pass bylaws that carry financial penalties, but do not have the power of arrest.

The levels of police service required to enforce these laws are largely dictated by federal/provincial policies, such as immigration and labour laws and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, they forgot Responsibilities.

It is for these reasons that the total cost of police/courts should be paid by the two senior governments.

To my mind it is totally unfair to burden municipalities with the cost of enforcing federal and provincial laws. Municipalities have only the property tax to run their affairs, while the two senior governments have the complete spectrum of income/consumption taxes at their disposal to create a level playing field across the country.

If memory serves, this problem arose in the mid-nineties, when the provincial government under Premier Mike Harris decided that it did not like the funding formulas in place for Basic Public Needs and created a Who Pays For What committee to find a more equitable way of paying for basic services. It was also supposed to be Revenue Neutral. Whatever happened to that concept, I have no idea.

Anyway, in the name of greater efficiency, monumental changes were made in Who Pays For What.

I do not recall the details, but I do recall that provincial politicians divested themselves of responsibility for Property Tax Assessment and created a Crown Corporation, the Municipal Property Tax Corporation, (MPAC) for short. Have a problem with your assessment? Don’t call your MPP, he/she is not responsible any more.

Ontario Hydro, until then a Public Utility,was broken up and sold to the private sector in the name of greater efficiency. We are all reaping the fruit of that transaction now. (Sir Adam Beck, the creator of Ontario Hydro is still rolling in his grave.)

Since then, the operations of the Ministry of the Environment, Natural Resources and others have been largely privatized.

The OPP funding problem being faced by municipalities is one of these historic changes that is the result of downloading the cost of policing from the two senior governments to the municipal sector.

Instead of splitting hairs about seasonal and year round residences, I would like to see a United Association of Municipalities present the Provincial Government with the fact that constitutionally it is THEIR responsibility to maintain Law and Order as well as THEIR responsibility to foot the bill.

They have the taxing power to affect everyone fairly and equally, NOT property owners alone.

The Police Services Act 1990 and the Regulations about cost recovery are passed by our MPPs and represent a certain political ideology. They can also be changed or amended by the Ontario Legislature.

I listened to OPP Superintendent Rick Philbin on Facebook trying to justify Cost Recovery for policing Ontario municipalities. As a serving Police Officer it was not his place to make this statement.

It should have been made by the Hon. Yasir Naqvi, Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services and politician, as part of his government’s election platform.

Respectfully,

Karl Braeker, Meaford

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