Prime Time Crime

(Prime Time Crime exclusive Oct  6, 2016)

Silence – Bought & Paid For

By Bob Cooper


This morning RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson announced a settlement in a class action lawsuit brought by 500 past and present female members and civilian employees who have made allegations including workplace & sexual harassment, bullying, gender discrimination, sexual touching, and rape (Settlement).  Flanked by two of the original claimants in the suit, Paulson apologized (YouTube: Paulson Apology) to all victims and announced that 100 million dollars had been set aside to settle the claims but that there was no cap on that amount. 

In addition, compensation is not restricted to claimants in the lawsuit & any member, active or retired, can apply whether or not they had ever complained.  To some this seems like a laudable gesture that acknowledges the reluctance of victims to come forward out of fear of reprisal.  To others it conjures up a vision of the cook ringing the dinner gong and shouting “Come and get it!”  Either way, some will ride to the bank on the coattails of those who were brave enough to come forward at the start and have done the heavy lifting.

On the positive side of the leger, the settlement saves the claimants years, if not decades, of waiting while the suit wends its weary way through the courts.  Financial compensation and an apology, complete with sniffle and eye-dabbing, is all they would get at the end of the day in any event and this way they get it now while most are still young enough to spend it. 

On the other hand, the real purpose was revealed, inadvertently no doubt, by Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale who said “Today’s announcement…..closes the door on a deeply troubling and unfortunate period in the history of our national police force.”  ‘Closes the door’ is right.  Get this off the front page and make it go away.

The event was spun as a compassionate act of contrition and ‘reconciliation’, the government’s big buzzword these days, right after ‘openness and transparency’.  It all sounds good until you get to the part about confidentiality agreements.  Lawyers will tell you this is a common way of settling civil suits that is done every day.  If this involved two individuals or private corporations suing one another it would be one thing but this involves the use of public funds (our money Mr. Goodale) to pay for silence in a scandal involving a public institution and it shouldn’t be allowed.  The act of compensating those who have been wronged should be as unreserved as the apology and they should be allowed to tell their stories if they choose.

Most of us knew from the start that they'd never let this stinker anywhere near a courtroom.  Sacks of cash & gag orders all round. Claims that are dubious or frivolous will be paid off the same as the really serious ones.  Everyone cashes in and everything is swept under the rug.  Those that did wrong (and the bosses that ignored or enabled it) get a free pass & that lesson isn't lost on either future offenders or future victims which pretty much guarantees that sometime down the road history will repeat itself.

 Commissioner once dismissed harassment claims of 300 women as outlandish

Bob Cooper is a retired Vancouver policeman.  He walked a beat in Chinatown and later worked in the Asian Organized Crime Section and the Homicide Squad.



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