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Provincial police force might be cheaper, says Premier Clark

Replacing the RCMP with a provincial police force might turn out to cost less than the proposed contract with the federal government, Premier Christy Clark said today.

"I don't think necessarily it would cost more than the proposal that's on the table with the RCMP today," Clark told reporters following her speech to the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Vancouver. "We are investigating it at the moment, and it's early days yet, to determine exactly what it would cost.

"When we look at the cost so far our assessment is that having our own provincial police force could be cheaper than the deal that's on the table from Service Canada today for the RCMP," she said.

Earlier in the week Solicitor General Shirley Bond created a stir by saying the federal government had given the province an ultimatum to sign a proposed contract by the end of November or have the RCMP withdrawn from the province starting in 2014.

Bond said the province wants changes to the contract, but the federal government has refused to negotiate further.

Federal Heritage Minister James Moore today said the federal government will look at proposals, but the province is yet to put forward anything specific, a position that contradicts Bond's.

"We're at the eleventh hour," said Carole James, the NDP MLA for Victoria-Beacon Hill. The province should have been considering a provincial police force sooner, she said.

"Surely the government should have been looking at options and taking that to the bargaining table as part of our position," she said. "The premier worried me that the government hasn't done the groundwork to take a strong position to the table."

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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