Watching Moncton, remembering Mayerthorpe. And why we still love the RCMP.

While watching the coverage today of the funeral of the three Mounties killed in Moncton, I was transported back to those bleak days in March 2005, when little Mayorthorpe was in the same situation.

I was an MLA during those shocking days, and I was fortunate enough to have been given a seat at the mammoth memorial held at the Butterdome at the U of A. It is one of the most vivid memories of my brief career in politics.

My fellow Liberal MLAs took the LRT to the event, about a two minute ride from the legislature to the U of A. Climbing the stairs from the LRT station into the sunlight, I was struck by a feeling that I wasn’t in Edmonton anymore. Hundreds of people were streaming towards the Butterdome, and virtually the only sound heard was that of  helicopters clattering overhead.

Two things stand out about the service. One was a little comment made by one of those giving a eulogy. While talking about training with one of the Fallen Four at the RCMP training depot in Regina, he emphasized that the pronunciation was ‘DEH-pot’ and not ‘DE-pot’.  I’ve never heard the word depot since without remember that moment.

The other thing that really stands out in my mind was the silence. There were, I believe, about 10,000 people in the Butterdome.  When the families entered, and particularly when the four empty stetsons were brought into the building, there was complete silence. Imagine, if you can, 10,000 people standing in absolute and complete silence. Not a word spoken, not a cough, not a single clearing of the throat. Even children didn’t make a sound.

I can’t imagine that there was anyone in that crowd that didn’t shed a tear that day. I know I did. How could you not?

No matter how many knocks the reputation of the RCMP takes, Canadians have a unique and seemingly unbreakable attachment to our national police force. The red serge is so much a symbol of this country, such an icon (finally, I can use that word in its truest sense of the word), that when a member of our RCMP extended Canadian family is killed, we all feel it. I don’t know of any other country in the world that venerates a national police force the way we do. In much of the rest of the world, the police are people to be feared. But here, in towns and cities small and large, Mounties stand for something. We have a very Canadian commitment to law and order; while America was founded on ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,’, Canada was founded on the principals of  ‘peace, order and good government’. Yeah, that’s boring as hell, but it’s so very Canadian. Just like the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

 

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