As an organization, the RCMP is functionally broken. I have said this before and say it again.
Last week a letter came to my attention written by a serving member of the RCMP. The letter was striking in that it was addressed to the Prime Minister and the Public Safety Minister who is responsible for the RCMP.
The author of the letter signed his name but I won’t use it for the purposes of this discussion. I have confirmed he has 23 years service and is serving in BC. I am also told his father served and was a 33 year veteran. He was, I am told, involved in two shootings, both of which were deemed justified.
The author praises the courage of Janet Merlo, Catherine Galliford and Krista Carle, who tragically committed suicide last week. These ladies, among others, have been at the forefront of the public complaints and lawsuits talking about the sexual harassment and bullying they faced as members. Carle’s suicide underlines the problem, chief among them is the denial, foot-dragging and lack of leadership that has existed and still exists in the RCMP.
The author says in discussing them, “The manner in which their complaints were handled provides a clear insight into the lengths that some in senior management have and will go to in an effort to isolate, discredit, demoralize and financially destroy those who dare to challenge them. I can tell you that these strategies are still very much in play by RCMP Management today. Management refuses to hold themselves to the very standard that they demand of the rank and file and it is no longer acceptable to allow this to continue without speaking out. Today I am doing just that.”
He also cites the crocodile tears of former Commissioner Bob Paulson when he tearfully apologized to these women at a national press conference and then promptly did the square root of bugger all to fix the problems. There are those who say Paulson was the biggest bully of them all.
The letter consists of more than 4,000 words. The frustration is palpable and the author outlines many issues where he has identified areas of concern to supervisors, the Commanding Officer of E Division (BC), even the Commissioner and has heard nothing back.
He says this, “My attempts to get any accountability and to get potential wrongdoing independently investigated has proven futile. Requests for documents results in heavily redacted useless pieces of paper or claims that no notes exist yet perpetrators are permitted to retire or are transferred. I am one of many with allegations that deserve independent inquiry / investigation from an agency separate and distinct from the RCMP. I, and others who have brought forward legitimate concerns have effectively been shunned and banished by RCMP Management including the current Commissioner and Commanding Officer of British Columbia and her staff here in ‘E” Division. This is either a failure of leadership or the result of legal advice that completely lacks insight into member health, safety, care and wellbeing. This lesson should already have been learned through the failures identified in numerous inquiries and commissioned reports. Why do we keep getting it wrong?”
He goes on, “I speak to members on a daily basis that are living one day at a time. I also hear from members on a weekly basis who are on the brink of suicide and have been left almost completely destroyed by management. What a sad waste of human resources.”
Sad indeed. Last week I spoke with Eddie MacDonald, a retired member who is on the executive of the National Police Federation, the organization which has applied to get certification to be the bargaining agent for the rank and file members. They have over 10,000 members who have signed on for their representation. Yet still they wait.
MacDonald told me things are so bad they have a group studying suicides and mental disorders of RCMP members in the last year. Every police officer knows someone who killed themselves due to the rigours of the job. “My source stated 40 + since 2006. Since October 2017 there have been 11 members, serving and retired, who have died at their own hand.” That’s stunning and it’s something neither the media nor the Force will talk about.
This week the Coroner’s office in BC announced there will be an Inquest into the death of Sgt. Pierre Lemaitre in July of 2013. Five years ago. What the heck took so long?
Lemaitre was the media liaison officer who provided the press briefing in the hours after the death of Polish traveller Robert Dziekanski.
The initial information he provided the media turned out to be inaccurate and he wanted to correct the record based on further information provided by investigators. He was over-ruled by the officer in charge of IHIT who had conduct of the investigation, Wayne Rideout. He was taken off the file and later reassigned to the Integrated Road Safety Unit (IRSU) and ultimately Langley Traffic. There he encountered a bullying, harassing supervisor who was the subject of many complaints for bullying and nothing was done.
Lemaitre became the media’s whipping boy in the weeks after the Pritchard video surfaced which showed the interaction between Dziekanski and the YVR Four. He was called a liar in the media when in truth he gave preliminary information to the media given to him by the IHIT media spokesperson and investigators. Like most of these things, preliminary information was incomplete and inaccurate and further investigation revealed more details.
The decision by Rideout not to allow Lemaitre to correct the public record was a brutal error. It directly resulted in the Braidwood Inquiry and ultimately the creation of the Independent Investigations Office (IIO). I believe it also resulted in the suicide of Lemaitre.
On the day Lemaitre committed suicide that supervisor was sent home by the RCMP and told not to come back. Fired, but not really. He was paid for at least two more years until he retired with a full pension. Another example of the lack of RCMP leadership and sweeping a problem under the buffalo skin so to speak.
My guess is the bullying became a part of the investigation of the Coroner but was stymied by the Force and thus the delay. It will be interesting to see if the Coroner’s Inquest goes down that path or if the RCMP has politically manipulated things so that it will not be on the table. On the other hand, a lawsuit has been filed against the RCMP by Lemaitre’s widow Sheila. That will be heard in open court unless the RCMP settles on the courthouse steps admitting liability.
Things haven’t changed in the RCMP. Leadership, such as it is, diminishes the junior ranks and won’t listen favouring instead the old boy’s club they protect at the expense of all else. Never ever do or say anything to tarnish the buffalo, (the centre of their logo).
I have long described the RCMP as more than a hundred years of tradition unhampered by progress. Sadly, even with a new commissioner, nothing has changed.
The BC member who wrote the letter to the Prime Minister anticipates he will be disciplined and perhaps even bullied for going outside the Force. Let’s hope that doesn’t occur. But my bet is that it will.
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leave a reply, I’ll leave a reply. Leo your article is incredibly accurate. I know Galliford and Merlo, both of their situations were an HR disaster. Do the wives of the inspectors involved know what went on . I don’t think so. When you have group a that refuses to socialize with the public and drinks in garages with only members, there it fosters an incestuous behavior beyond the belief structure of any citizen. Sorry everyone that is the way it works to this day. The real crux of your article is , nothing has been done. A recent study shows most Surrey RCMP members want out of Surrey. I am sure Burnaby and North Van are no different. A Surrey Councilman, candidate for mayor wants a review and wants to go to Municipal Policing for Surrey. A quote in the Province says, “Surrey has out grown RCMP Policing” They show no accountability in anything. They have HR Human Rights issues that have never been dealt with, multiple shootings in a community that clearly thinks they don’t care and members that just want out.
Guess what will happen?……………nothing
Sadly Leo he probably will … in a way that roots deeper and destructive…it is incredible theengrhs the force willing to make it… entirely this man’s fault ..for EVERYTHING he says and does from this day forward.
He will likely be made to feel inferior and incapable of his tasks because they will pick away at him like crows on a carcass.
Others fearing guilt by association will turn a blind eye and start to believe the labels management tactically places on him. If he were female.. The idea that she was a man hater would be dropped amongst the membership to be used as a reason to disregard her authority(if she has rank)
He needs to protect every angle of his being right now and sadly trust very few.
He may not get the support he will now need because those around him will already be saying he has sealed his fate …
I proud he took that leap… and hopefully the power of social media protects him … because his organization won’t.
Thank you Mr. Knight I have always appreciated your articles. Look after this member if you can … heaven knows some tried for Catherine , Janet and Krista…no one did out here for me and yup I got bullied and harassed out painfully as they did. But we will still fight for what they did …and for the betterment of an organization we all were once proud to be a part of … especially if those inside are too afraid to do it!
Leo … this was sent to me by an active male member …because he is worried that he will be targeted by the RCMP for saying it… so I agreed to share it when I could…
Inside this preventable taking of Kristas life I am trying to find solace that she is now at peace and in a better place.
In the same breath she did not go in peace. And who do we blame?
My first arrow would be pointed at the RCMP without hesitation. Krista, Janet, Atoya, Judi, Katherine and many others took unspeakable steps towards staring evil in the face.
That evil is the big Red Machine.
We thought things would change after the non heartfelt apology from Bob Paulsen. Crocodile tears were easily identified.
The mere mention of what the RCMP like to use to protect its reputation: Core Values. Means nothing to me. I have seen too much heard too much and absorbed too much to know without a doubt the RCMP is not saveable. Those values mean little.
For the sake of Canadians it has to stop. Ralph Goodale, Justin Trudeau and the the new Commissioner have to stop rebranding the shiney glossy brochure to soft sell it to the members and the public. The RCMP is an image driven organization. It’s narcissistic personality has run itself into the ground.
How could the Commissioner say the RCMP is not broken?? Really? Take your rosey glasses off that you were given by Justin and Ralph and dig into the rot inside the Organization.
Inside this tragic and sad situation is an opportunity for us to lean forward, chins up, and fight for the right things for the right reasons.
Krista would want this…and we won’t let her down.
This will certainly draw more strength and resolve to make those wrongs right. Resiliency is a powerful thing and no doubt those who know Krista’s story will galvanize to a collective voice towards accountability and exposure of those who cause unspeakable harm to so many.
To all of you who are in the struggle know this: you are not alone, you matter, you are enough.
Although many will never know your struggle I am here to remind you of your strength. Your courage is admired and the voice you are lending is heard loud and clear.
It’s not your fault.
Please: Have faith in fate and let fate have faith in you.