RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki says it's time to bring in better guardrails between the national police force and the federal government to avoid future allegations of political interference.
"I think it's time that we put something to writing that outlines the what you can and cannot do from both the commissioner's perspective and the politicians," she said under questioning at the Emergencies Act inquiry on Tuesday.
"I think it's time to clarify, because it's been a topic of conversation."
She was referring to the political controversy that's followed her and members of the Liberal government since the summer, when the inquiry into the 2020 mass shooting in Nova Scotia released handwritten notes by RCMP Supt. Darren Campbell.
In those notes, Campbell alleged Lucki tried to get investigators to publicly reveal the weapons the gunman used.
The notes also say Lucki indicated she promised then-minister of Public Safety Bill Blair and the Prime Minister's Office that the RCMP would release this information, and that this was tied to pending gun control legislation intended to make officers and the public safer.
Both Lucki and Blair have denied meddling in the RCMP's investigation.
The RCMP Act says the commissioner serves "under the direction of the minister" and "has the control and management of the force."
Lucki pointed out during her testimony Tuesday that the RCMP doesn't have a police commission, as some municipal police forces do.
"There's no institution in between the two of us," she said. "If a minister were to cross that line, it's simply a function of you having to say, 'You're over the line, minister.'"
WATCH | Lucki says she has 'never' been provided direction from ministers
Lucki pointed to a private member's bill tabled by NDP MP Alistair MacGregor that seeks to sharpen the language in the RCMP Act to shield the commissioner from political influence.
Bill C-303 would permit the government to direct the RCMP commissioner to "establish priorities, objectives and policies for the force" but would forbid it from instructing the commissioner on anything having to do with "day-to-day operations ... investigations, arrests and prosecutions," or "any matter that would interfere with the commissioner's power or authority."
"In the last six months, I've had to respond to it on several occasions and so my hope is that my replacement won't have to," said Lucki Tuesday.
"So we need to clear this up."
The commissioner has blamed the controversy on a miscommunication between her subordinates and herself.
Lucki said RCMP staff had told her that information about the guns used in the mass shooting would be released during a news conference. Lucki said that, in response to a question from Blair's chief of staff, she passed on that detail.
"They didn't ask me to do anything. They just asked a simple question," Lucki said during a House of Commons committee last month.
"There was no direction whatsoever."