RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki said Wednesday she has made the difficult decision to retire from the national police force next month.
There has been speculation about Lucki’s future as she approaches the end of a five-year term marked by numerous challenges and controversies.
Her turbulent time as the top Mountie included the worst mass shooting in modern Canadian history, the COVID-19 pandemic, and protests that paralyzed downtown Ottawa and several border crossings early last year.
In April 2018, she assumed command of a police force riven by internal dissension over long-standing issues of bullying and harassment.
In a statement released by the force, Lucki said Wednesday she is proud of the steps taken during her time as commissioner to modernize the RCMP through increased accountability and measures to address systemic racism, ensure a safe and equitable workplace and advance reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.
“I leave knowing I did my best and take comfort that the RCMP is well placed to shine in its 150th year,” she said.
Lucki said she knows this work will continue after her last day on March 17.
“This was not an easy decision as I love the RCMP and have loved being the 24th commissioner,” she said in her statement.
“I am so incredibly proud to have had the opportunity to lead this historic organization and witness first hand the tremendous work being done each and every day by all employees from coast to coast to coast and internationally.”
Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino thanked Lucki for her partnership, dedication and years of service to the force.
From training new recruits to becoming the Mounties’ first permanent woman commissioner, she has dedicated her life to keeping Canadians safe, he said.
Lucki’s announcement comes days before a federal commission releases its report on the Liberal government’s decision to invoke the Emergencies Act to end the protests that jammed the streets around Parliament Hill for weeks last winter.
The report is expected to closely dissect the government’s consultations with players including the RCMP before using the act for the first time since its inception.
Another report from the Nova Scotia Mass Casualty Commission is due at the end of March.
The RCMP has come under intense scrutiny over its response to the horrific events of April 18-19, 2020, when Gabriel Wortman killed 22 people in Nova Scotia using multiple firearms and driving a replica RCMP patrol car.
Lucki has also been forced to answer for the force’s treatment of Indigenous people amid widespread concerns about police discrimination and brutality.
In 2020, Lucki said she was struggling with the notion of systemic racism in the RCMP, only to acknowledge its existence days later.
The Edmonton-born Lucki’s RCMP career included time in Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta and Saskatchewan, serving on a force responsible for everything from traffic duty to investigating financial crime and terrorism.
She was praised for her efforts in northern Manitoba to improve the force’s relationship with Indigenous communities. Lucki also worked with the United Nations in the fractured former Yugoslavia, and helped train and select units for a UN police mission in Haiti.
In 2016, she became commanding officer of “Depot” Division, where young RCMP recruits are put through their paces.
Lucki holds a degree in psychology and sociology from the University of Alberta, and studied management and leadership at the University of Manitoba’s business school.
There was no immediate word about the government’s plan to fill the commissioner’s job.