Federal Public Safety Minister Vic Toews says the government will be introducing new legislation dealing with RCMP discipline.
The promise came after RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson voiced frustrations over the current legislation, saying an antiquated discipline process is preventing him from dealing quickly with abuse allegations.
The issue was raised by Cpl. Catherine Galliford, who claimed in a CBC News interview in November that she was the victim of years of sexual harassment and abuse by former male colleagues.
Several former and current female officers have since come forward with similar complaints, prolonging the firestorm of controversy for the RCMP.
The force’s difficulty in dealing with harassment was highlighted again last week when an Alberta officer, Sgt. Don Ray, who admitted to years of sexual misconduct, was transferred to B.C. instead of being fired.
In House of Commons question period in Ottawa Tuesday, B.C. New Democrat Randall Garrison said the public is losing faith in the RCMP and the Conservative government has done nothing to deal with sexual harassment in the force.
Toews said he agrees changes are necessary to deal with what Paulson called bad behaviour by a small minority of RCMP officers and the government will bring forward legislation to address RCMP discipline.
Toews also said he's extremely concerned about the reports of sexual harassment and he supports Paulson's efforts to deal with the problem.
In an open letter Monday, RCMP Commissioner Robert Paulson appealed for changes to the Police Act so he can fire the "bad apples" that disgrace the force.
Paulson also hinted that yet more harassment allegations might be forthcoming.
"More historical cases and cases already underway will come out and make the news. They are the inheritance of past behaviours and attitudes.… I am trying to run a modern police force with a discipline system that was current 25 years ago."
Opposition MPs said it’s regrettable that the RCMP commissioner has had to resort to a public plea for changes to the Police Act.
“Clearly he and many other members of the force are embarrassed by all of this,” said Ontario Liberal Judy Sgro. "His inability to be able to do this, to take the kind of action necessary, that continues to allow people convicted of sexual harassment, drinking on the job, exposing themselves … to continue to draw a paycheque, it’s nothing short of a disgrace."
In another instance, Const. Susan Gastaldo was nearly fired after she complained she was forced to have sex with her RCMP boss.
Gastaldo’s lawyer, Walter Kosteckyj, said Paulson should reveal all of the other skeletons in the RCMP's closet.
"Why aren't the RCMP more forthcoming and getting ahead of the curve on these things so they are making the public feel more confident about how they deal with these problems?" Kosteckyj said.
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