Growing up in Melville, Saskatchewan, I had great admiration and respect for the RCMP. From their annual trip to our school to encourage bicycle safety to the annual entrance in the Melville Parade of the officers in red serge and Stetsons, to my family’s treks to Regina to see the famed Musical Ride, the RCMP represented all that was good and decent in society.
The Mounties are an iconic institution. As such, its members are held in the highest esteem. Perhaps that is why recent revelations of unprincipled conduct at the Nation’s Police Force have been met with such profound disbelief and disappointment.
At least four women have filed lawsuits (including a Class Action, which could have dozens of alleged victims), alleging a variety of sexual harassments including coerced sexual activity with superiors. A fifth lawsuit alleges sexism and bullying. Meanwhile, a public inquiry concluded that the fatal tasering of an inbound passenger at Vancouver International Airport was not justified and also that four Mounties had lied during the investigation and during the inquiry. This has resulted in the four Mounties being charged with perjury.
But a new high (or low) in misogyny inside the Force is the case of Don Ray formerly of Alberta’s “K” Division. Amazingly, Ray was reprimanded, demoted one rank and suspended without pay for 10 days and eventually transferred to BC as “punishment”. His egregious behavior included consuming alcohol after hours at “K” Division Headquarters. That in itself is not so bad; however, he pressured female subordinates into joining him. He also had sex several times in his polygraph interrogation room during business hours with a civilian public servant and had sex several times with the same employee in an unmarked police cruiser.
Ray also used a police car to have sex with a subordinate in a parking lot outside a pub and exposed himself to another civilian employee and requested they have sex. He frequently made inappropriate sexual remarks to female Mounties and civilian employees. Perhaps most egregious from a Human Resource perspective, Ray also compromised the integrity of the RCMP’s recruitment process, when he had inappropriate and unprofessional communications with prospective female candidates and took female recruits out for drinks while their applications were being evaluated. He even falsified the security clearance of one female applicant by inflating the number of years one of her references had known her!
What does it take to get fired from the RCMP??
I cannot imagine any other employer employee situation where Ray’s voluminous egregious misconduct would not result in dismissal. In fact, a fraction of his infractions would easily satisfy the civil law requirements for a cause dismissal.
The member was subject to a RCMP internal disciplinary proceeding; amazingly, the Commissioner of the RCMP is bound by the determination of that internal proceeding. Although the Member can appeal the sanction imposed, the Commish cannot.
The internal disciplinary proceedings in the RCMP evolved to protect vulnerable officers from arbitrary and capricious actions by vindictive superiors. Clearly, some protection in that regard is necessary. However, public confidence is so shaken in the internal, misogynistic and secretive operations of the RCMP, that the Force has lost the right to exclude the public from its internal processes.
The Minister of Public Safety has introduced legislative changes in the form of the “Enhancing RCMP Accountability Act”. The new commissioner has publicly called for changes which would allow greater transparency and accountability regarding how the RCMP and Members conduct themselves.
These changes are urgently needed. Restoration of the public’s confidence in this iconic institution requires modernization. Unfortunately, Parliament’s complete preoccupation with the “Budget Implementation Act” and the marathon voting sessions required to pass it, mean that this must needed legislation, has been introduced, but will not be passed until fall at the earliest.