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RCMP's public complaints commission gets new boss

OTTAWA -- Public Safety Minister Anne McLellan has appointed Paul Kennedy, until recently a senior bureaucrat in the Justice Department, to head the RCMP's public complaints commission.

Mr. Kennedy replaces Shirley Heafey, who was appointed to the job in 1997 and announced her retirement earlier this year. Ms. Heafey was a critic of what she called an "us-against-them-mentality" within the national police force that stymied civilian oversight.

Mr. Kennedy, a lawyer and security expert who retired from government service last May after a 25-year career, was most recently a senior assistant deputy minister in Ms. McLellan's department. In that capacity he was responsible for national security and emergency preparedness.

The public complaints commission has frequently been criticized for offering insufficiently robust public scrutiny of the RCMP, particularly in the wake of the Maher Arar affair. A parliamentary committee has called for a new parliamentary oversight body, while the government has asked Mr. Justice Dennis O'Connor, who chairs the Arar inquiry, to examine the idea of a new, independent arm's-length review mechanism.


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