Commissioners (Paulson and Lucki);
Elder Eashappie, National Chief Bellegarde;
Ladies and gentlemen:
It’s a great pleasure to be here this afternoon for this very special occasion.
As we gather on the territory of Treaty #4 and the homeland of the Metis, it's an honour to bring greetings and good wishes from Prime Minister Trudeau and the Government of Canada.
Here on historic Sleigh Square, at the heart of the RCMP's Depot Division, important dimensions in the story of Canada have been unfolding since 1885. And today, another chapter officially begins.
This Change-of-Command Ceremony not only pays tribute to the leadership of TWO distinguished Canadians - the outgoing and the incoming Commissioners of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police - it also celebrates the Force itself.
For 145 years, the RCMP and its predecessors have been a fundamental part of Canada's national character. An iconic symbol of our country, worldwide, the Force's storied history has helped to define who we are as Canadians.
Unique in all the world, the RCMP shoulder enormous responsibilities:
They are the municipal police force in more than 150 communities and for many First Nations.
They are the provincial police force in eight provinces and three territories.
They are our federal police force everywhere, tending to national security and so much more.
They provide expert support services to every other police force across the country.
And they are Canada's link to Interpol, international policing and police operations in peace-keeping.
From the FBI, the Brits, Interpol, the G7, the Five Eyes and the UN, I hear loud words of praise for the RCMP and how well they do their work.
Good cause to celebrate, indeed!
Today is also a time to remember the courage, heroism, devotion and sacrifice of members who gave their lives to serve and protect their fellow citizens. A fitting memorial will pay tribute to them on Sunday.
And we also remember all those who still suffer both the visible scars and hidden trauma of their service in the line of duty.
The mantle of leadership in this large, far-flung, complex organization is a heavy one.
I want to thank Bob Paulson for his more than 30 years of service in the RCMP. In particular, I always appreciated his vigour and candour as Commissioner, and his dedication to the institution, to the communities served and to the people under his command.
Among his contributions…
He worked hard to get reconciliation underway with Indigenous people - earning a special tribute from Chief Bellegarde and the AFN.
When we were challenged to build a security system to enable us to accommodate more than 30,000 Syrian refugees in the space of just a few months, Bob Paulson played a pivotal role in verifying that system, and building public confidence.
And he began the large and painful task of coming to grips with internal issues like workplace harassment and bullying, and the settlement of thousands of legal suits. It was an important beginning.
I also want to thank Deputy Commissioner Dan Dubeau who provided strong and steady leadership for the RCMP during the months when we were searching for Commissioner Paulson's successor. The transition seemed effortless, thanks to Dan's professional skills and demeanour.
And it's an honour today to congratulate and welcome Brenda Lucki as the 24th Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
She's been on the job since April 16th. Given its size, complexity and gravity, that job may well be the toughest in the entire public service.
Canadians care about it. The work done by the Mounties affects the way in which we live our lives every day. We want to be safe and secure. We want our rights and freedoms fully respected. And we're all critics about how it gets done.
With more than three decades of front-line experience across the country and overseas, with her Indigenous engagement, with her work here at Depot - Commissioner Lucki has a rich background that has prepared her for the challenges ahead:
Transformation and cultural change;
Safe and healthy working environments;
Gender balance, diversity and inclusion;
Governance and structural innovation;
Recruitment, retention, compensation and collective bargaining;
Post-traumatic stress and mental health;
And that's all in addition to achieving policing excellence in every field from cybercrime and online child exploitation to guns-and-gangs, drug-impaired driving, opioid smugglers and foreign terrorists threatening our national security.
As I said, it's a tough job. But a crucial one … in good hands!
On behalf of all Canadians, Commissioner Lucki, we wish you every success in your leadership of the finest police force on the face of the earth.