NEWS
10/04/2011 02:40 EDT | Updated 12/04/2011 05:12 EST

B.C. prepares new proposal in RCMP contract dispute with federal government

VANCOUVER - British Columbia is working on a new contract proposal to keep the RCMP in the province and hopes to have something to present to Ottawa by the end of this week.

Peter Fassbender, the mayor of Langley, B.C. who is an observer at the negotiating table, wouldn't specify what will be in the proposal but said it includes a list of outstanding issues.

"I mean there's a lot of work and there's a lot of implications but we're all anxious to keep the momentum going," said Fassbender. "We don't want to see it stall further."

Fassbender said British Columbia is hoping Ottawa will agree to a proposed contract management committee that would have representation from the federal, provincial, territorial and municipal governments.

"There needs to be a process that provides for good and effective input from all of the partners," he said.

Fassbender said about five to six people are working with B.C.'s deputy solicitor general Lori Wanamaker on the proposal.

Last week, B.C. Solicitor General Shirley Bond announced the federal government had threatened to withdraw RCMP services in 2014 if the province doesn't sign a suggested 20-year policing contract by the end of November.

Days later, though, Heritage Minister James Moore, B.C.'s regional representative at the federal cabinet table, told the Union of British Columbia Municipalities convention in Vancouver he was optimistic both sides could reach a deal.

"You know, we agree. We agree on a 20-year timeline, we agree with the funding formula, we agree on the dollar amount, and we agree in principle that the RCMP needs to have checks and balances over the way in which they're going to be spending money over the next 20 years,'' he said.

The provincial and municipal governments have raised concerns about rising costs and accountability but Moore said the province had not yet tabled a specific proposal.

Bond said Tuesday in Victoria that she was optimistic about Moore's comments andreiterated the point that B.C. has had a great relationship with Ottawa.

"What I want to do is make sure that we get back to having a positive, constructive conversation with the federal government," said Bond.

Vic Toews, minister of public safety, said he's still waiting to hear from Bond about B.C.'s suggestions.

"Our government is willing to renew contract policing agreements with the provinces and, in fact, I'm awaiting the suggestions that the B.C. solicitor general indicated that she would forward to my attention," Toews said during question period Tuesday.

"To date, I've not received them. She indicated on Sept. 9 that she would be forwarding those suggestions. I haven't heard from her."

Alberta and Saskatchewan have already signed RCMP contracts with the federal government, but nine other provinces and three territories are continuing negotiations as a block, Fassbender said.

He said B.C. is the lead negotiator for the block because the province has the largest RCMP presence in Canada.

"I'm the eternal optimist that if people want to work together and find a solution, we can do that," he said.