NANAIMO — A veteran Nanaimo RCMP officer, who wants to be the city's next mayor, is turning in his police badge earlier than he wanted to.
Cpl. Norm Smith, 51, caps off a 31-year career as a Mountie on Thursday, Jan. 12.
Smith says he was made aware of an RCMP policy that forbids active members to remain on the force while campaigning for political office.
“The city is paying my salary,” said Smith. “I do see where it can be conceived as a conflict and I don't want things to be like that.”
Smith announced his intention to run for mayor in December. He says he was informed shortly after by the detachment's commanding officer, Supt. Cam Miller, of the policy. Smith says he didn't want to suddenly put a hold on his campaign and remain a Mountie, which he says would have sent mixed messages.
“I didn't want folks to think that 'oh he just threw his name out there now he's pulled it,' I made a commitment to run for mayor, I talked to my family about it, we were all in favour of it.”
An emailed statement from Sgt. Harold Pfleiderer of the RCMP's National Headquarters in Ottawa provides further context to the policy.
“It is recognized that participation in political activities may result in actual, apparent, or potential conflicts of interest which may have a detrimental effect on the impartiality of the employee participating in these activities, or on the RCMP.”
Smith is believed to be the only publicly declared mayoral candidate in Nanaimo for the 2018 election.
He says he has no hard feelings about how things played out over the past month.
“I gave 31-years to the RCMP, it was a good, happy career, and to leave a little bit early for another dream that I have is okay by me.”