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Woman to head Canada's mounted police

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

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OTTAWA, Canada (AFP) — For the first time in its storied history, a woman has been appointed to lead the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) on a permanent basis.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced at the federal police force's training academy in Regina, Saskatchewan, on Friday that Assistant Commissioner Brenda Lucki will succeed Commissioner Bob Paulson, who announced his retirement last year.

Another woman held those reins on an interim basis for six months from December 2006 to June 2007. But Lucki is the first woman to be named to the post on a permanent basis.

“When she takes her new post this April, she will be the 24th commissioner in the RCMP's history and the first woman to serve as commissioner in a permanent role,” Trudeau told a news conference.

“I'm very, very excited about being able to appoint the absolute best person for the job to be commissioner of the RCMP, who just happens to be a woman,” he said.

Since joining the RCMP at age 20 in 1986, Lucki has been posted across Canada as well as with the United Nations in the former Yugoslavia.

More recently, she was in charge of training cadets.

“I plan to challenge assumptions, seek explanations, and better understand the reasons how we operate,” she said.

“This means that no stone will be left unturned and if what we find works, then we carry on until we unearth the issues that need addressing.

“I am confident that together we will meet our challenge head-on and move forward to continue to modernise our organisation.”

Lucki's appointment comes as the RCMP is grappling with an underrepresentation of women and sexual harassment within its ranks.

According to the government data, only 22 per cent of RCMP officers are female.

Outgoing commissioner Paulson last year gave an official apology and offered an estimated Can$100-million compensation to settle two sexual harassment class action lawsuits launched by former policewomen.

About 25,000 women who worked for the RCMP since 1974 — when the force started hiring women — qualified for the payments.

The new commissioner will face calls for higher pay from members who recently won the right to unionise, and will soon have to face a new civilian oversight board.

Lucki will also have to work to improve soured relations with Canada's indigenous communities.

Ottawa has also tasked the RCMP with improving Canada's cybersecurity and leading efforts to tackle an increase in gangs and gun violence.

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