Provinces demand greater co-operation from feds on witness protection

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OTTAWA - Ontario and Alberta are pushing for more federal recognition of their witness protection programs as part of a national revamp of the patchwork system intended to shield those who risk their safety to co-operate in criminal cases.

Documents and interviews reveal provincial concerns — including frustrations in obtaining identity changes for protectees — are key to a long-promised federal remake of witness protection.

The federal witness protection program, administered by the RCMP, provides measures ranging from short-term protection to permanent relocation and identity changes.

The Mounties spent more than $9 million on the program in 2011-12.

However, several provinces have their own programs, often providing short-term assistance.

The federal government has been working for several years on changes to the RCMP-led program following recommendations from a Commons committee and the commission of inquiry into the 1985 Air India bombing.

Organizations: RCMP, Commons committee, Air India

Geographic location: OTTAWA, Ontario, Alberta

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