Politics

RCMP head says force is 'vulnerable' to leaks after Mountie arrested in Alberta

The head of the RCMP says the national police force is vulnerable to leaks — a warning that comes as multiple people with ties to the RCMP face charges or have been convicted already.

RCMP charged an Alberta Mountie with leaking police information to Rwanda

RCMP Commissioner Mike Duheme speaks during a news conference at the National Summit on Combatting Auto Theft, in Ottawa, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024.
RCMP Commissioner Mike Duheme speaks during a news conference at a national summit on auto theft in Ottawa on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

The head of the RCMP says the national police force is vulnerable to leaks — a warning that comes as multiple people with ties to the RCMP face charges or have been convicted already.

"If you think that we can ensure that everything in the organization never leaks out, we're vulnerable to that, we're aware of it," Commissioner Mike Duheme said Wednesday.

"We have measures when we recruit people, we have robust measures, but as people progress, sometimes they make different decisions that sometimes come back to harm them, and we address them."

Last week, the RCMP alleged that Alberta Const. Eli Ndatuje "accessed non-top secret RCMP records systems in order to assist a foreign actor."

Court records show Ndatuje is accused of sending "safeguarded information on the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) system to a foreign entity, to wit the Republic of Rwanda." Ndatuje faces three charges, including one of violating the Security of Information Act.

"It just demonstrates that once we found out about it, we investigated and took appropriate measures," said Duheme. 

News of Ndatuje's charges came a week after Cameron Ortis, a former high-ranking civilian RCMP member, was sentenced to 14 years in prison for trying to sell classified information to police targets.

Cameron Jay Ortis, a former RCMP intelligence director accused of disclosing classified information, returns to the Ottawa Courthouse during a break in proceedings in Ottawa, on Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2023.
Cameron Jay Ortis, a former RCMP intelligence director accused of disclosing classified information, returns to the Ottawa Courthouse during a break in proceedings in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2023. (Spencer Colby/The Canadian Press)

Retired RCMP officer William Majcher was charged with foreign interference last summer; he was granted bail Tuesday afternoon. The RCMP alleges he "used his knowledge and his extensive network of contacts in Canada to obtain intelligence or services to benefit the People's Republic of China."

It also alleges Majcher "contributed to the Chinese government's efforts to identify and intimidate an individual outside the scope of Canadian law." Both alleged offences fall under the Security of Information Act.

"We're 30,000 people in the organization. To think that this cannot happen again, it could. We're all vulnerable to that," Duheme said.

"But we want to make sure it's not by educating our people about what they can do and what they can't do."

A man in a dark suit and tie poses for a profile picture.
Retired RCMP officer Bill Majcher has been charged with two counts under the Security of Information Act. (William Majcher/LinkedIn)

After a jury found Ortis guilty, the RCMP acknowledged that "mistakes were made" and introduced swifter internal security measures and employee training on detecting "insider threats" — the term used for employees who use their authorized access or understanding of an organization to cause harm.

"Report what you see, what you hear, so that we can follow up on it," said Duheme.  

Ottawa announces $15M for police to curb car thefts

The commissioner made the comments in Montreal after taking part in an announcement on auto thefts alongside Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc and the head of the Montreal police.

The federal government announced $15 million to help police crack down on what the commissioner called an "unprecedented" situation across the country.

More than $9 million is going to the Contribution Program to Combat Serious and Organized Crime. The money is meant to help law enforcement agencies take custody of detained stolen vehicles from the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).

Canada is also sending $3.5 million to the international police agency Interpol to improve information-sharing and identify and retrieve stolen vehicles and parts around the world.

The announcement in Montreal Wednesday comes more than a week after the federal government convened politicians, police, border agents and others in Ottawa for a one-day summit to address auto theft.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Catharine Tunney is a reporter with CBC's Parliament Hill bureau, where she covers national security and the RCMP. She worked previously for CBC in Nova Scotia. You can reach her at catharine.tunney@cbc.ca

With files from Meghan Grant

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