A provincial act aiming to protect people from domestic violence is coming into force next week without the participation of the RCMP.
The Interpersonal Violence Disclosure Protocol Act—also known as Clare’s Law—was unanimously passed in May of last year.
When the law comes into force on June 29, Saskatchewan residents will be able to make an application to their local municipal police station for information about their intimate partner’s past violent or abusive behaviour.
Justice Minister and Attorney General Don Morgan said he’s “extremely disappointed” that the Saskatchewan RCMP will not be participating in Clare’s Law, and has reached out to the federal government to encourage change.
With the announcement of the law coming into effect on Monday, the provincial government attached a letter from Morgan to Canada’s Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair.
Morgan said RCMP representatives in the province, both directly and through the Saskatchewan Association of Chiefs of Police, have been involved in the development, regulations and protocol of Clare’s Law.
“To now be advised that the RCMP, in its capacity as the Saskatchewan Provincial Police Service, is refusing to comply with this process is beyond disappointing,” said Morgan.
“We have not been advised why the RCMP has taken this position other than reference to an undisclosed legal opinion.”
In a written response, the Saskatchewan RCMP said unlike municipal police services, it is subject to federal privacy legislation. The statement said that representatives voiced this conflict earlier on in the planning process.
“The RCMP is continuing to look into the matter, and considering how best it can support Clare’s Law objectives within its obligations under the federal Privacy Act,” read the response.
“This hasn’t impacted our commitment to keeping families and communities safe and we will continue to work in a cooperative manner with our partner agencies and government departments to seek solutions to the serious problem of domestic violence.”
The RCMP assured victims and survivors of domestic violence that police will continue to keep them safe. The statement pointed to the RCMP’s Violence in Relationships Course, to its website for creating safety plans and where to get support, and to call or text 211 or visit abuse.sk.211.ca for resources within your community.
Morgan added that the government has offered to meet with any legal counsel that the RCMP may have to explain the process of the law and that it’s in compliance with applicable legal requirements, including privacy legislation.
“We remain open to establishing a dialogue with respect to this matter and urge you to ensure that this decision of the RCMP is revisited.”
The letter to Blair continued to say that the province asks that this issue is “immediately addressed,” whether it means making adjustments to the Saskatchewan protocol or at the federal level.
Morgan said the RCMP hasn’t identified any provincial adjustments in the year and a half that it’s been working with the ministry in developing Clare’s Law.
Premier Scott Moe also voiced his dismay on Twitter. While all municipal police services in Saskatchewan will be participating in this new protocol, the RCMP has indicated its refusal to participate,” wrote Moe.
“This is extremely disappointing.”
Clare’s Law was first introduced in the United Kingdom following the death of Clare Wood. Wood died at the hands of her former boyfriend—who had a record of violence against women—in 2009.
Other provinces, such as Alberta and Newfound and Labrador, have introduced similar legislation.