New billion-dollar Surrey RCMP facility to include serving booze

It appears that the new $1.2 billion state-of-the art RCMP facility in Surrey , British Columbia will have 'alcohol-a-flowing' day and night.

Vancouver -based investigative reporter Bob Mackin has learned that the builders have applied for a primary liquor licence for the 76,162-square foot facility, scheduled for completion in 2013.

The new RCMP officers' mess, he says, hopes to serve beer Sundays through Thursdays from 11 a.m. to midnight and 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

Traditionally in Canada, police headquarters and even fire halls have been given liquor licenses to serve alcohol to their 'off-duty' officers.

According to the Northwest Territory liquor distribution branch, the purpose of a licensed mess/canteen is to allow those who work in public protection to enjoy an off-duty drink out of the public eye.

"Because of the nature of their jobs, these individuals are often unfairly expected to be "on-duty" at all times, their website notes.

"It is difficult for them to relax and enjoy a few drinks in a restaurant or bar without public scrutiny or public expectation of their services."

But is this really appropriate in 2012?

More importantly, is this application really appropriate for a national police force that has been rocked by scandal after scandal over the past decade?

In November, the RCMP took another hit to its beleaguered reputation when two female officers went to the media with complaints about a systemic problem of sexual harassment within RCMP ranks.

More recently, there was the case of Donald Ray, the ex-Alberta Mountie who was disciplined — but not fired — for sexual misconduct and drinking on the job.

Do we really want to introduce more alcohol into the RCMP 'culture'?

Do we really need officers coiffing a few pints at work after a tough day on the job and then driving home?

During a period of time where the RCMP is trying to restore their reputation, applying for a liquor license is not a smart public relations move.

The Harper government has spent an endless amount of time and money getting 'tough on crime' — perhaps it's about time they got tougher on the Mounties.