Sexual Harassment Class Action Filed Against RCMP in B.C.
For a period of time a number of current and past female RCMP members have been coming forward with disturbing allegations of rampant sexual harassment including sexual assault.
Little action has been forthcoming although there have been a lot of press conferences and wringing of hands by RCMP management about how they will do something but somehow never actually take action so the courts are being petitioned to step in.
This issue received national attention in November 2011 when when Const. Catherine Galliford, a 20-year member of the RCMP, filed an internal complaint. Galliford, 44, once a highly visible RCMP spokeswoman in the high-profile Air India case and the Missing Women Task Force (Pickton serial murders), claims she was repeatedly sexually harassed by RCMP officers. She claimed she was subjected to constant sexual aggression, innuendo and harassment.
Once Galliford stepped forward publicly many other female RCMP members came forward with allegations similar and worse and painted a picture of RCMP management sweeping the issue under the carpet and in some cases actively undermining complaints and shielding colleagues from discipline.
In one recent case in BC a female RCMP member admitted to coerced sexual relations by a superior officer and was threatened with dismissal for besmirching the reputation of her superior by a disciplinary panel. Her allegations were supported by a female civilian employee who told of similar actions by the same male officer. BTW the superior officer admitted to having sexual relations while on duty and was docked ten days pay. The female officer filed a civil suit for damages but the RCMP was willing to consider not terminating her if she agreed to drop her lawsuit. http://www.vancouversun.com/life/Nor...449/story.html
After RCMP adjudicators ruled a female officer is guilty of having sex with her boss on the job and could be fired for slandering him – while he faces just demotion – a civil lawyer representing the woman slammed Canada’s national police force as “not a safe place for women to work.”
A B.C. RCMP officer was deducted 10 days pay after having sex with a subordinate in a patrol car while on duty two years ago.
An RCMP disciplinary board said Thursday that Staff Sgt. Travis Pearson would have been demoted to a corporal if the investigating officer had charged him with abuse of authority.
Pearson's penalty stemmed instead from his use of police equipment: his RCMP vehicle where he had sex with Const. Susan Gastaldo, and his BlackBerry cellphone he used to exchange sexual text messages with her.
Gastaldo said she was coerced into an intimate affair with Pearson, which included the sexual encounter in the police vehicle in 2009. But the disciplinary board ruled that the relationship was consensual, and found both officers guilty of disgraceful conduct.
And in the bizarre world of RCMP Code of Conduct and discipline:
B.C. RCMP’s new commanding officer, Craig Callens, judged that Const. Susan Gastaldo should never have been charged for her part in a sexual relationship with her supervisor. But rather than withdraw RCMP Act charges, the RCMP threatened to continue Gastaldo’s prosecution unless she dropped her lawsuit against the force.
These new allegations that the RCMP abused its disciplinary process are made in an amended civil claim from Gastaldo, filed Jan. 20, in B.C. Supreme Court.
In December, newly-appointed RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson vowed to make rooting out harassment and other such issues within the RCMP his top priority.
Admitting to a culture of bullying and a legacy of botched investigations, the Mounties’ new commander says his police force faces obsolescence if it doesn’t get its act together – and quickly.
RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson says his mandate is to “clear-cut” problems that have taken root so deeply in the police culture that some Mounties are now embarrassed to tell neighbours where they work.
Commissioner Paulson stated flatly that too many Mounties today believe that their authority entitles them to misuse power.
Yet given how controversies have piled up – from failed terrorism probes to overuse of force and, now, sexual-harassment complaints from female officers – many police observers question whether the beleaguered Mounties should remain in their current incarnation. “We are at a pretty critical period. … I don’t see the RCMP surviving,” said Linda Duxbury, a Carleton University management professor.
And Assistant Commissioner Craig Callens, the new head of the RCMP in BC where many of the complaints of sexual harassment have originated has pledged to get tough on RCMP members who are guilty of sexual harassment.
Assistant Commissioner Callens, in a news conference shortly after Solicitor-General Shirley Bond announced his appointment, told reporters the RCMP has policies to deal with complaints of harassment.
But he said he was not persuaded that the RCMP has responded effectively and quickly enough “to give individuals who come forward, as victims, a sense of confidence that their concerns will be addressed and the appropriate follow-up action will be taken.”
“That’s where the focus of my energies will be in the coming weeks,” he said.
He said his job is to ensure that victims of harassment feel safe enough to come forward in a timely manner so an investigation to be conducted. In response to inappropriate behaviour, actions would be taken either to modify that behaviour or remove the offender from the organization, he said.
David Eby, executive director of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, said the new assistant commissioner has some big challenges ahead, beginning with the backlog of serious complaints about police conduct. On allegations of sexual harassment, he will have to figure out why officers are being harassed, Mr. Eby said.
“It is clear to me they do not have a handle on what is happening at the detachment level,” Mr. Eby said. “Senior management say all the right things but, clearly, all these women are having very different experiences,” he said.
On Tuesday a suit was filed in BC Supreme Court asking for certification of the sexual harassment complaint as a class action naming the federal and provincial governments as Defendants.
How this works is that there is a named Plaintiff who brings suit and the court then decides if the issue is suitable as class action and if so the court then certifies it as such and other Plaintiffs can then join as members of the class. One of the hurdles to having a lawsuit certified as a class action is proving that the claims of the members of the class are similar enough to be dealt with in one case. If it is not certified, the plaintiffs would have to launch individual lawsuits to argue for compensation.
It is expected if certified there many other class members who will join the suit. Counsel David Klein says he has been contacted by 150+ women thus far and “I expect that number to double or triple over the next while.”
The named Plaintiff in this case is former RCMP member Janet Merlo:
The harassment for former Mountie Janet Merlo began soon after she was stationed at the RCMP detachment in Nanaimo more than 20 years ago, according to a proposed class action lawsuit filed in B.C. Supreme Court.
Merlo, 44, is the representative plaintiff in a case that her lawyers say could expand to include more than 150 other female officers from across Canada suffering from alleged systemic discrimination and harassment.
Klein said the allegations include sexual harassment, sexual innuendo, pranks, double standards and discrimination.
“It’s been ongoing for decades. One of the things we hear over and over again is that their complaints are not taken seriously, that there is a problem or has been a problem in the upper levels of the RCMP in terms of how gender-based discrimination and harassment is dealt with by management.”
Merlo was discharged from the RCMP in March 2010.
“She didn’t retire,” said Klein. “The situation was no longer tolerable.”
The suit says that Merlo was unable to bring an action earlier as a result of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder that she suffered on the job.
The RCMP is a disreputable, detestable organization.
The RCMP is broken and dysfunctional organization with a culture that seems impervious to change.
Or "horribly broken" in the words of David Brown, Q.C., Counsel with the firm Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP, and former head of the Ontario Securities Commission who was tasked by the federal government to study the RCMP in the wake of the pension scandal and other such matters. This characterization was in a report dated June 2007, "A Matter of Trust", the Report of the Independent Investigator into Matters Relating to RCMP Pension and Insurance Plans. That report raised serious issues with the RCMP's culture and governance.
On the recommendation of the Investigative Report, the Government of Canada established the Task Force on Governance and Cultural Change in the RCMP under the chairmanship of David Brown to consider these issues more closely. And the Task Force found much deeper seated problems than the initial Brown report found. http://www.publicsafety.gc.ca/rcmp-g...p-tfr-eng.aspx
Dr. Linda Duxbury, a professor and management consultant at Carleton University who has authored several reports about workplace issues in the RCMP as an independent consultant for the RCMP and federal government including The RCMP Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow: An Independent Report concerning Workplace Issues at the Royal Canadian Mounted Policehttp://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/pubs/duxbury-eng.htm is not optimistic about the future. She does not believe that the RCMP can or should survive in its present form.
The RCMP are disaster. They cause any number of problems and they do not "play well with others". They seem to have this inflated sense of self-importance and who knows why given their recent abysmal performance in so many areas.
It is well past time to scrap this out-dated, ineffective, systemically broken organization and create a real national police force. I have been involved in these issues for many years and way back when one of the study commissions in which I participated 25 years ago recommended that Canada adopt a national police force along the lines of the US FBI.
It is well past time to trade the RCMP for the FBI so that we have an educated law enforcement agency able to take on organized crime and sophisticated criminal enterprises. I have advocated for many years that if you want to fight organized crime you need a different model. In the US they take university trained graduates in law, accounting, computer sciences, etc. and turn them into law enforcement officers. They call it the FBI and it has been singularly successful in smashing organized crime working with local and state law enforcement.
In Canada the RCMP takes Grade 10 grads and wonder why they have little or no success in going up against sophisticated organized criminal organizations.
A national organization is needed and it cannot be the paramilitary force that is the RCMP. They may be fine as street cops (and there are some definite concerns even there) but they are inept and unable to deal with sophisticated organized crime and in particular sophisticated white collar crime (securities fraud, computer fraud, etc.).
Keep the RCMP out of municipal policing - that was what was recommended by Paul Kennedy the former Chair of the RCMP Public Complaints Commission. Get them out of municipal contract policing in BC so they cannot be involved in any way.
The RCMP were allowed to continue with some security related functions concurrently with CSIS and as result helped to screw up the Air India investigation by failing to share information.
The FBI takes college graduates with specialties like accounting, computer sciences and law and teach them to be agents so they can use their skills. Also they want older applicants with work experience - not high school kids hopped up on testosterone.
Here are the FBI qualifications - note there is NO WAIVER for a four year university degree - no equivalency, no experience in lieu of a degree and you must have three years professional work experience in addition to your degree - then they give you agent field training:
To become an FBI Special Agent you must be a U.S. citizen or a citizen of the Northern Mariana Islands. You must be at least 23 years of age, but younger than 37 upon your appointment as a Special Agent. Age waivers may be granted to preference eligible veterans who have surpassed their 37th birthday. You must possess a four-year degree from a college or university accredited by one of the regional or national institutional associations recognized by the United States Secretary of Education. You must have at least three years of professional work experience. You must also possess a valid driver's license and be completely available for assignment anywhere in the FBI's jurisdiction.
All applicants for the Special Agent position must first qualify under one of five Special Agent Entry Programs. These programs include:
Computer Science/Information Technology
After qualifying for one of the five Entry Programs, applicants will be prioritized in the hiring process based upon certain Critical Skills for which the FBI is recruiting. The FBI is currently recruiting for Special Agent candidates with one or more of the following Critical Skills:
Candidates with these Critical Skills are essential to address our increasingly complex responsibilities. As such, candidates with one or more of these skills will be prioritized in the hiring process.
The RCMP takes high school grads or even those with GED equivalents, gives them a bit of paramilitary training and then are surprised when they are unable to to deal with sophisticated white collar and organized crime.
Here are the RCMP qualifications (NOTE - If you did not complete secondary school, you must obtain an equivalency assessment. For more information, contact your local board of education or adult learning centre to be assessed and take a General Educational Development (GED) test):
To apply for a job as a Regular Member of the RCMP, you must meet the following basic requirements:
Be a Canadian citizen;
Be of good character;
Be proficient in English or French;
Have a Canadian secondary school (high school) diploma or equivalent;
Possess a valid, unrestricted Canadian driver's licence;
Be at least 19 years of age at the time of engagement (may apply at 18 years of age);
About twenty five years ago I was on a government task force and recommended that Canada needed a federal police agency like the FBI if we wanted to make a dent in sophisticated criminal enterprises. The RCMP are pretty much useless at that.
Back in the day when I was doing criminal intelligence work we did everything possible to minimize any RCMP involvement in our operations because they could be counted on to screw up the investigation or project.
The arrogance and inability to work with others is well documented in a number of cases including the Pickton investigation and in the lack of action against organized crime in this province. The case of Allan Dahlstrom a former Vancouver Police Officer is instructive. I happen to know Al and he has more knowledge of organized crime and biker gangs in his little finger than I have ever seen of a detachment of Mounties. In that case the Mounties got their man - unfortunately that man was Al Dahlstrom.
Consider this loss of one of the best anti-biker cops from the VPD whose career was deep-sixed by the RCMP. This was a result of infighting and just plain turf protection on the part of the RCMP, a major anti-organized crime initiative targeting Hell's Angels (Project Phoenix) fell apart and a highly specialized VPD officer Al Dalstrom recognized as a national expert on biker gangs was targeted and forced out by you guessed it - the RCMP. Yup the RCMP got their man - unfortunately it was one of the really good guys - Al Dalstrom.
The bill to the taxpayers?
Well over $3 million down the tubes for mounting Project Phoenix and that never resulted in any charges despite all the evidence gathered.
Insp. Andy Richards, a former investigator with the OCABC who now works for Port Moody police, said Wednesday that Phoenix targeted nine suspects, including three full-patch members of the Hells Angels, and the case should have gone to trial.
"It was a very compelling case and ... highly prosecutable," said Richards. "But because so much baggage had been raised and so much mud had been thrown, Crown was not willing to proceed because ... it was not in the public interest to publicize the level and extent of the infighting."
Richards said, in his view, Phoenix was scuttled by senior RCMP officers because they were jealous another agency had succeeded against the Angels on what they saw as the Mounties' turf.
Then Al sued and the RCMP settled - more taxpayer dollars down the drain and still nary a conviction. A further $2 million dollars paid to Dalstrom in settlement of his wrongful dismissal suit so the story would hopefully be hushed up as the RCMP could not have any further horrendous publicity given the Robert Dziekanski death and screw-up in the Air India investigation.
The facts in the Dalstrom wrongful dismissal case and the sabotage of Operation Phoenix targeting Hell's Angels are coming to light. And the RCMP is again embarrassingly at the centre of this ungodly mess. CTV and the Globe and Mail examined the case in detail but not whimper from the put upon tax payers. Maybe we deserve the RCMP? http://www.ctvbc.ctv.ca/servlet/an/l...shColumbiaHome
The RCMP is a significant obstacle to effective policing in BC - particulalrly against sophisticated criminals such as organized crime, white collar crime and complex frauds.
The dysfunctional RCMP sabotages efforts to investigate and prosecute organized crime through utter incompetence and the inability to work with other BC police police agencies.
BC has failed to combat organized crime for the past 35+ years as the RCMP has continually sabotaged efforts.
For years the Coordinated Law Enforcement Unit (known as CLEU but more like Clueless under the direction of the RCMP) dutifully reported year after year that Hell's Angels were the biggest organized crime threat in BC - yet were unable to secure one enterprise crime conviction in 25 years of operation.
The laws are fine, it is the investigation and evidence gathering that is the problem. It has been this way in the past 35 years in BC. Inspector Clouseau has done a better job than the BC police forces in investigating organized crime.
CLEU was formed in 1974 to fight organized criminal elements. The rationale was it was needed to transcend the traditional boundaries of jurisdiction. CLEU was a Joint Forces Operation, (JFO) funded in part by the provincial government and in part by the RCMP and all municipal police forces in the province. The RCMP was never happy having to share jurisdiction.
Every year CLEU dutifully published reports and analyses of organized crime in BC and named the number one target as Hell's Angels in virtually every report. Problem was during the 20+ years that CLEU existed they were unable to convict a single Hell's Angel of a any sort of organized crime offence. After years of bumbling and mismanagement CLEU was disbanded.
The problem I have pointed out is the inability of Canadian police as constituted to deal with sophisticated organized crime and sophisticated white collar crime. And then there is the more recent issue of cyber-crime.
It is not as if this is any secret as Stephen Owen clearly pointed this out in 1998 in his report commissioned for the BC government to examine the police response as currently constituted "is unable to cope with the growing sophistication and diversity of organized crime." (Report of the Organized Crime Independent Review Committee, S. Owen (Chair), R. Stewart, R. Bergman, Ministry of the Attorney General of British Columbia, September, 1998)
The Co-Ordinated Law Enforcement Unit (CLEU) spent 25 years targeting organized crime in BC particularly Hell's Angels which CLEU continually declared was the biggest threat to public safety and security while ignoring the Mafia and and failing to come to grips new threats like Asian gangs. Unfortunately CLEU was unable to secure a single criminal enterprise conviction against the Hell's Angels in its history and there were serious problems with security as apparently Hell's Angels placed a number of civilian workers inside. Cue all the jokes about the CLEU-less approach to fighting organized crime in BC.
Unfortunately CLEU was really only replaced in name only the Organized Crime Agency of British Columbia in 1999 which was again restructured in 2004 and put under the control of..... wait for it... the RCMP.
Maybe the best commentary on this organization may be found at its website where after decade of operations you are still met with the home page that has been thus for many years:
"The mandate of the Organized Crime Agency of British Columbia is to facilitate the disruption and suppression of organized crime which affects all British Columbians."
Please note that this web site is currently under reconstruction.
As noted above the CBC broke the news of the alleged harassment suffered by high profile RCMP member Catherine Galliford:
CBC News has learned that one of B.C.'s highest profile Mounties says she's suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder after years of sexual harassment.
Cpl. Catherine Galliford was the face of the B.C. RCMP for years. During her tenure as the RCMP's spokesperson, Galliford announced the arrest of Robert William Pickton and revealed charges had been laid in the Air India bombing.
But in an internal RCMP complaint, Galliford makes serious allegations about misconduct inside the RCMP. She shared the complaint with CBC News and spoke with reporter Natalie Clancy about her claims.
"Everything that came out of his [a supervisor's] mouth was sexual," Galliford said. "If I had a dime for every time one of my bosses asked me to sit on his knee, I'd be on a yacht in the Bahamas right now."
Galliford says she faced constant sexual advances from several senior officers from the moment she graduated from the RCMP Academy in 1991.
After trying vainly for years to get her complaints dealt with by an acknowledged broken internal investigation process, Galliford filed a civil law suit. And the RCMP response to Galliford??? Nothing to see here little lady you are whining weak alcoholic with mental problems. Women, eh???
The women who have stepped forward to launch sexual harassment lawsuits against the RCMP got a taste of what they’re in for this week.
The force filed a statement of defence in response to allegations made by Corporal Catherine Galliford, who first went public with her claims last year. Her move prompted other female Mounties, some current, some retired, to come forward with their own stories of on-the-job abuse.
Today, four other officers besides Cpl. Galliford have launched legal action, including one retired Mountie on Vancouver Island who is spearheading what her lawyers say is a possible class-action suit that could be joined by more than 100 others claiming mistreatment and various forms of harassment on the job. They should all be steeling themselves for a rough ride.
In its statement of defence in the Galliford case, the RCMP denied virtually all of the high-profile officer’s allegations made against various co-workers. (The Mounties agree that one officer was disciplined after a complaint involving Cpl. Galliford). Mostly, the RCMP’s response casts the plaintiff as a somewhat disturbed alcoholic who was the one doing the harassing.
Does this RCMP tactic sound familiar? Remember Robert Dziekanski, the Polish immigrant who died at Vancouver International Airport in October, 2007 after being tasered repeatedly.
It is not a strategy that is foreign to our national police force. You may recall the sad case of Robert Dziekanski, the Polish immigrant who died at Vancouver International Airport in October, 2007 after being tasered repeatedly. It was eventually revealed that the four RCMP officers who were involved in the incident had fabricated parts of their story – a fact that became clear when a bystander video of the incident emerged.
While it was obvious to all that the officers’ response at the time was a gross overreaction, the force nonetheless sent a team of investigators at taxpayer expense to Poland to see what it could dig up about Mr. Dziekanski’s past. Did he have a drinking problem? Mental issues? Anything, one supposes, that could somehow eat away at the reliability and standing of the victim.
As if any of those things would have had any relevance or bearing on the actions of the four RCMP officers who had Mr. Dziekanski surrounded that night but tasered him repeatedly anyway.
Galliford's and other such allegations resulted in an large scale internal investigation by Deputy Commissioner Craig Callens, the Commanding Officer of the RCMP in British Columbia who was so disturbed by what he found that he detailed 100 BC RCMP members to investigate the numerous allegations:
British Columbia's top RCMP officer is appointing 100 Mounties to investigate sexual harassment complaints in an effort to improve a culture condemned by some as intolerably sexist.
RCMP Deputy Commissioner Craig Callens says he's talked to hundreds of women who work for the force in British Columbia and they've told him the work environment has to change.
He said he convened focus groups that involved about 400 female RCMP members across the province over two months aimed at uncovering the extent of gender-based harassment.
"I acknowledge, without reservation, that we have some issues that we need to deal with," he said Sunday in an interview with The Canadian Press.
"I'm committed to ensuring that we take the type of action that our employees deserve."
With his own 21-year-old daughter applying to become an RCMP member, Callens agreed that the environment that has been allowed to persist is not one in which he'd want her to work.
"I have responsibilities to the members and employees of the RCMP ... and that is to ensure there is a healthy and respectful workplace for them to come to every day," he said.
"As a responsible parent, there are additional interests for me to ensure that the changes that we need to make get made."
Currently, the force has only two dedicated harassment officers, as well as professional standards investigators who typically examine matters of conduct related to the RCMP Act but who assist the harassment officers if required.
"Having 100 of these (new) individuals out there to not only conduct the investigations but to bring some focus to bear on what we need to do to resolve the conflict is critical in addressing whatever it is that is occurring on a much more timely basis," Callens said.
Two House of Commons Committees began to investigate the allegations but some RCMP members were prevented from testifying.
A veteran RCMP officer who was scheduled to testify before a House of Commons committee investigating harassment within the force says she's being censored and excluded after submitting her speaking notes.
Krista Carle said Friday she was shocked when Conservative members of the House of Commons standing committee on the status of women cancelled her appearance yesterday on Parliament Hill, shortly after she submitted her speaking notes to the committee 36 hours before hand, as required.
Carle said she was told she couldn't testify because she's among 300 female RCMP officers waiting to join a class-action lawsuit alleging they were sexually harassed while working for the force.
Some women were excluded from speaking in Parliament because of their involvement in the ongoing legal case.
But others who are not involved in the legal proceeding also had difficulties testifying. Just last week Cpl. Roland Beaulieu, said he had been prevented from appearing at a Senate committee last week in Ottawa. Beaulieu was informed that if he was well enough to travel to Ottawa then he must be well enough to return to work. He is on stress leave suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
"I don't want to be fired. I'm hoping by going public here, will force management to deal with my issues," Beaulieu said on Friday in Vancouver.
Some Liberal MPs and Senators travelled to BC to hear from these excluded RCMP members this past Friday May 17:
(S)some Liberal MPs and Senators were in Vancouver to hear from RCMP officers who have complained about sexual harassment or bullying but were unable to testify at parliamentary committees.
Liberal Senator Grant Mitchell said he was appalled that some Mounties suffering from post-traumatic stress and other issues were not being heard.
"We had people who had been injured which we haven't been able to have because the government won’t let us call them before parliamentary committee," Mitchell said. "The take away is, it's deeply, deeply damaging on a personal level."
Mounties told the panel Friday the RCMP is broken, corrupt and rife with misconduct.
"I've seen female members harassed because they are lesbians. I've seen people picking up hookers and getting transferred and promotions," said RCMP officer Peter Kennedy.
On Friday, the Senators and MPs listened carefully.
"Short of blowing up the RCMP from the top down, I'm not sure after the things I've heard today and earlier, if we are ever going to be able to fix the RCMP," said Liberal MP Judy Sgro.
"All of these women were treated as they were just wallpaper, just the pretty candy, and they had to be there for the abuse of their superior officers," Sgro said. "And because they didn't co-operate, their lives were ruined."
The above referenced class action suit was filed in March 2012 alleging institutionalized harassment with former RCMP member Janet Merlo as the named Plaintiff and there are reportedly 300 RCMP members joining the class action. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/britis...t-lawsuit.html
Paulsen also declared the force would "expeditiously resolve, wherever appropriate, outstanding harassment-related lawsuits." Like all the RCMP responses to date this action plan is long on rhetoric but woefully short on action.
How short? It was reported Friday that the RCMP has refused an offer to mediate the claims set out in the class action suit.
A lawyer representing 300 women who worked for the RCMP alleging harassment and gender-based discrimination in a lawsuit says the national police force is declining an offer to mediate.
"The RCMP indicated they have no interest to discuss settlement. It comes as a big surprise to us," said Vancouver class action lawyer David Klein.
But earlier this year, RCMP commissioner Bob Paulson's action plan said the force would "expeditiously resolve, wherever appropriate, outstanding harassment-related lawsuits."
On Friday, Klein said his clients want to see some solutions.
"They want the RCMP and the women themselves to be able to move past this to settle," Klein said.