New top Mountie pledges 'change and growth' at RCMP as he assumes command

New top Mountie pledges 'change and growth' at RCMP as he assumes command

The RCMP's new commissioner said he wants to drive "change and growth" in the national police service as he officially assumed command on Thursday.

Michael Duheme formally took over as RCMP commissioner at a ceremony in Gatineau, Que. Duheme, a law enforcement veteran with over 35 years of experience, became interim commissioner in March following the retirement of former top Mountie Brenda Lucki.

"I'm here to lead change and growth within the organization, to make decisions that move the yardstick for the RCMP, because I know there's a lot we can accomplish together," Duheme said in his speech at the ceremony.

"I want all our employees to be proud to belong to this organization, and to know that they're equipped to make a real difference in the communities that we serve."

Duheme takes over a police force that's under fire over the scope of its mandate, its culture and questions about its competence.

Duheme said hiring more Mounties is his first task.

"I want us to grow in numbers, so my first priority, as we move forward, is recruitment," he said.

The RCMP employs approximately 19,000 uniformed officers and 11,000 civilians. An independent advisory board called the force's recruitment situation a crisis in a report released earlier this year, and called for an overhaul of officer training.

WATCH | 'I want us to grow in numbers'

Lucki, who served as commissioner from 2018 to 2023, said she improved the RCMP during her tenure.

"My motto has always been to leave every place just a little bit better than when you got there, and I did just that," Lucki said.

"I can rest easy knowing that the RCMP is in good hands."

A report earlier this year from the Mass Casualty Commission (MCC), which examined the response to the 2020 mass shooting in Nova Scotia, sharply criticized the RCMP's response to the tragedy and put forward 130 recommendations for reform. Duheme raised eyebrows after the release of the report when he said at a news conference that he had not yet read it.

In a news conference following the ceremony Thursday, Duheme said the RCMP is making progress on 52 of the MCC recommendations for which it's directly responsible, and is partnering with other organizations on the remainder.

He said the RCMP continues to investigate so-called police stations operating in Canada on behalf of the Chinese government, and is still looking for the sources of national security leaks to the media about foreign interference in Canada.

Duheme signed the RCMP's new core values statement following his inauguration as commissioner. The Mounties updated the statement last year for the first time in a quarter century, adding references to "reconciliation," "diversity," "honour" and "empathy."

He said he hopes to bring cultural change to the force.

"I also want to seek growth in who we are, so my second priority is to foster a workplace culture that's rooted in respect and accountability," Duheme said.

"To make sure we're living up to the RCMP's renewed core values, and really looking out for each other, along with the people we serve."