Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada has appointed the first woman as permanent leader of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, which has been dogged in recent years by accusations of discrimination, sexual assault and other scandals.
Mr. Trudeau said on Friday that Brenda Lucki, who has been with the national police force for 31 years, would take over as commissioner in April.
The previous commissioner, Bob Paulson, retired in June after more than five years in the job. During his tenure, Mr. Paulson gave a tearful apology as the R.C.M.P. settled a series of harassment, discrimination and sexual abuse claims that deeply embarrassed the force.
The mounted police is also under fire for not doing enough to protect Canada’s largely marginalized and impoverished aboriginal population.
Mr. Trudeau said during a televised ceremony at the mounted police’s training academy in Regina, Saskatchewan, that there was a lot of work to do “to restore the R.C.M.P. to the full position of trust that it really should have in the eyes of Canadians.”
The R.C.M.P. needs to become better and stronger, he said, adding that Ms. Lucki would “play a vital role in advancing reconciliation with indigenous peoples, promoting gender equality” and addressing workplace harassment.
Ms. Lucki said she would challenge assumptions about how the R.C.M.P. — which was established in 1873 — operated. The force has about 20,000 uniformed members.
The Mounties’ duties include many tasks that are handled in the United States by federal agencies like the F.B.I. and the Secret Service. But a large percentage of the force’s employees, including civilians, provide local policing in rural areas except in the provinces of Ontario and Quebec.
In one well-publicized case, an investigation found that the United States had deported Maher Arar, a Canadian software engineer, to Syria partly because of false and inflammatory information provided by the Mounties. The inquiry harshly criticized of the force’s intelligence.
The National Police Federation, a union group that represents more than half of the force’s members and that has been pushing for reform of its leadership, welcomed the appointment.
“We hope her selection and appointment will trigger an era of renewed investment for the 17,000-plus men and women who serve across the country, and a more supportive environment for female members in particular,” Brian Sauve, founder of the group, said in a statement.
Mr. Trudeau’s remarks were interrupted when two cadets standing at attention behind the prime minister fainted during Friday’s ceremony. Sgt. Major Tammy Patterson of the R.C.M.P. told reporters it was not uncommon for cadets to collapse after standing still for prolonged periods.
“They were trying their very best, I can imagine, to look great as a backdrop,” Sergeant Patterson said, adding that while it may be “a very exciting opportunity” for the cadets, it was also “probably also very stressful.”
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