In 2006, RCMP Corporal. Catherine Galliford had finally had it with the harassment in the Old Boys club — more formally known as the RCMP.
Galliford complained to her direct supervisor about a co-worker and was called to the supervisor’s office. The supervisor sat behind his desk and on the only other chair in the room sat the male coworker she had complained about. There was no other chair; the co-worker patted his lap smiling saying “sit here.”
While it was not the worst example of harassment she had undergone, it was the last straw for her.
She went on stress leave and five years later when nothing was being done about her concerns, the former spokesperson and the former face of the RCMP went public with her claims.
Others like Janet Merlo and Krista Carle quickly let their voices be heard as well. This ultimately led to a class action lawsuit against the RCMP that was ultimately joined by several hundred serving and former members.
In the end, taxpayers have shelled out over $1.16 billion in settlements with more pending. It would seem successive Commissioners of the RCMP, despite their pleadings to the contrary, have failed to change the culture of bullying and harassment in the RCMP. It has even spawned a union, the National Police Federation (NPF), once an unthinkable concept in our national police force.
But successive Commissioners from Giuliano Zaccardelli to Bill Elliott to Bob Paulson and now to the stunningly ineffective Brenda Lucki have failed to move the needle measuring the Old Boys Network one bit.
For years Canadians have been listening to their empty rhetoric about the cultural changes they are making and how they were striving to bring about more change.
Well, nothing has changed.
You’re either part of the Old Boys network or you’re not. If you are, you’re expected to go along to get along, to shut up and do what you are told “for the good of the Force.”
In 2017, many uniform members of the RCMP engaged in what was called the “yellow stripe protest.” They declined to wear the yellow stripe on their uniform pants as part of a labour protest. They were advocating for higher pay but also for a labour organization to represent the rank and file. After a series of political machinations between competing interests, the NPF emerged and sought union certification. They got it and negotiations for a first collective agreement are underway.
In April of 2017, then Commissioner Bob Paulson issued a force wide broadcast email saying members participating in the yellow stripe protest would not be subjected to discipline. Many senior officers were in the process of initiating Code of Conduct investigations into members participating in the yellow strip protest and Paulson said, “Participating members have said they were threatened with discipline. Either way it goes against what we are trying to build; respect for one another.”
He retired two months later but never rescinded that order. He was replaced by Lucki who appears to be nothing more than a puppet for the Trudeau government.
On the weekend, I reviewed a report written by a Corporal R.T. Letnes, dated September 15, 2020. Letnes, a professional standards investigator and management relations expert, was asked to review the case of a ten-year member in one of the RCMP’s larger Alberta detachments.
The member had been going through some personal issues relating to an operational stress injury(OSI) and went off duty on stress leave in November of 2017. He returned to work in April of 2018 and was a participant in the yellow stripe protest.
Shortly after he received a memo dated April 26, 2018 authored by the Officer In Charge (Oi/c) of his detachment stating, “I am ordering you to wear the approved items of kit and clothing that will properly identify you as a member of the RCMP. Refusal to follow this lawful order may result in a Code of Conduct being ordered.”
This directly defied the order of the Commissioner of the RCMP and was intended to intimidate the member involved.
The member refused and several months later he was called to a meeting with the Oi/c. He had the foresight to initiate an audio recording of the meeting in which the Oi/c is heard clearly stating, “I called Professional Responsibilities and I asked for a Code to be investigated to find out if in fact it’s that, so, that, that’s what this is about. So yes, put your stripe back on” again clearly defying the order of the Commissioner of the RCMP.
It would seem to me that the only person that should be the subject of the Code of Conduct investigation is the Oi/c the detachment for defying the Commissioner and attempting to bully the junior member.
But this is the RCMP. The Inspector is a card-carrying member of the Old Boys Club.
The junior member has ten years service and a family with two kids, one of whom is special needs. He just wants to make things better for himself, his co-workers and his community.
The matter is ongoing and I will be watching as it progresses. But at the very least, the case illustrates that nothing has changed in today’s RCMP despite all the protestations to the contrary from successive leaders and all the taxpayer money spent settling claims.