OTTAWA, Ill. — The federal government announced Friday that Mike Duheme will be the interim commissioner of the RCMP until a replacement is found for Brenda Lucki.
Lucki, who was appointed commissioner in April 2018, is retiring. She had announced her intention to step down last month, shortly before the expiry of her five-year term.
Her tenure as the top Mountie has been marked by internal and external challenges, including allegations of systemic racism within the force, growing calls to defund the police and questions over the response to the devastating mass shooting in Nova Scotia in 2020.
She also steered the force through the COVID-19 pandemic and the "Freedom Convoy" early last year, when protesters decrying COVID-19 health restrictions and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government clogged the streets around Parliament Hill and at several U.S. border crossings.
Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said Duheme, who currently oversees federal policing for the Mounties, will take over the job on Saturday.
"I have every confidence that his extensive experience in policing across the country and around the world has prepared him well to lead our national police force," the minister said in a statement.
"I also want to take this opportunity to salute Commissioner Brenda Lucki for her years of service, including as the first woman to serve as permanent commissioner. She has dedicated her life to keeping Canadians safe, and we thank her."
Duheme was among the RCMP officials to testify during last fall's Public Order Emergency Commission into the federal government's decision to use the Emergencies Act during the convoy protests.
According to his biography, he enters the role after 34 years as a police officer. He began his career in Nova Scotia.
Some First Nations leaders have already made the call for Trudeau to appoint an Indigenous officer to serve as the Mounties' next permanent commissioner.
Lucki had been given the mandate of advancing reconciliation with Indigenous communities when she started the job.
The RCMP polices most Inuit, Metis and First Nations communities in Canada, due to its responsibility to police much of rural Canada under contract agreements with the provinces — except in Ontario and Quebec, which have their own provincial forces.
During a recent stop in Winnipeg, Trudeau said appointing an Indigenous RCMP commissioner is an "excellent idea," but he stopped short of making any commitment, saying the next appointment will be made through a yet-to-be-announced process.
Mendicino said Friday that the details of that process will be revealed in due course.
When Lucki announced that she was retiring last month, she said in a statement that she is leaving the position "knowing I did my best."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 17, 2023.
Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press