NEWS
11/15/2011 08:25 EST | Updated 01/15/2012 05:12 EST

Long-Time Mountie Chosen As Next RCMP Commissioner

Bob Paulson said Wednesday he is proud and privileged to be named the new RCMP commissioner as he pledged to help transform the police force.

"I recognize that I have a lot of work to do, a lot of work ahead as we continue to transform the RCMP," he told reporters on Parliament Hill soon after Public Safety Minister Vic Toews introduced him. "Accountability and leadership will be areas of focus for me and my team as we go forward."

Paulson said that his first order of business is to deal with the recent allegations of sexual harassment within the force and he and Toews announced they have agreed to ask the Commission for Complaints Against the RCMP to investigate.

An official swearing-in ceremony will take place at a later date.

Paulson replaces William Elliott, the first civilian to lead the RCMP. Elliott announced nine months ago he was stepping down to try something new. He begins a new job with Interpol at the United Nations on Monday.

Paulson, 52, has a long history with the RCMP. He joined the force 25 years ago, and before that served with the Canadian Forces. He spent most of his policing career in British Columbia and now works at RCMP headquarters in Ottawa.

Paulson is widely regarded as an excellent major crimes investigator and biker gang expert who is popular with frontline officers. He is viewed as someone who respects and rewards hard work, and as someone who gets things done without getting mired in internal or external politics.

Paulson is not a stranger, however, to Parliament Hill. He has testified before several parliamentary committees, including one in 2008 that was investigating then Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier's careless handling of sensitive documents.

Those who know Paulson say he's self-confident and a somewhat gruff straight shooter who pulls no punches.

Sources say the government chose Paulson because he has a reputation for enhancing performance, shaking up units, doing more with less and motivating change. He is also bilingual.

With files from Alison Crawford