06/06/2016 08:28 EDT | Updated 06/07/2017 01:12 EDT

Goodale hints at changes to RCMP labour bill amid rank-and-file concerns

OTTAWA — The Liberal government is signalling it is open to giving rank-and-file RCMP members a stronger hand in their dealings with top brass.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale tells senators on the national defence and security committee he will present some ideas within the next couple of days to reassure critics who say a government bill gives the RCMP commissioner too much power.

Sen. Larry Campbell, a former Mountie, is among those expressing concerns the bill would deny RCMP members the right to negotiate how the force addresses key issues such as officer conduct, appraisals, harassment and equipment.

Last year, the Supreme Court of Canada affirmed the right of RCMP officers to collective bargaining and gave the government time to create a new labour-relations regime.

The high court did not explicitly state that Mounties have the right to form a union, but the justices effectively opened the door to that possibility.

The Liberals have tabled legislation that would make independent, binding arbitration the dispute-resolution process for bargaining impasses, with no right to strike.

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