OTTAWA - Family, willingness to move, and work-life balance are the key factors affecting whether Mounties seek promotion, says a new RCMP report released amid concerns of sexism and harassment within the force.

These considerations affect both men and women but "have a more pronounced effect on females," says the report completed this month by the RCMP's national program evaluation services.

"Additionally it was found that after 20 years of service, females are more likely to leave the organization than males."

The report also uncovered a perception among Mounties that one must "belong to a 'club' in order to be successful" on the promotional ladder — another factor that "has a more pronounced impact on female representation."

The research became public Friday following word that Public Safety Minister Vic Toews is giving the RCMP three weeks to come up with a detailed plan to bolster the ranks of women in the force.

A clearly frustrated Toews made the demand for concrete goals on recruitment, promotion and retention of female members in a letter Thursday to Mountie commissioner Bob Paulson.

Currently, about 20 per cent of RCMP members are female, consistent with other police forces across the country.

The minister wants the RCMP plan — to be delivered by Dec. 11 — to include measures for ensuring 30 per cent of Mounties are female in the "immediate term."

"Now is the time for action," Toews wrote to Paulson, named to the top RCMP job only a year ago.

"The plan should include specific, objectively measurable, milestones. Each milestone should have a target date. Only in this way will we be able to determine whether we are succeeding or failing in resolving this problem."

The pointed letter, widely released to media outlets, is a clear sign the Conservative government is willing to publicly prod and even shame its appointees into carrying out tasks according to the government's timeline.

The letter says Paulson recently gave Toews a draft report indicating the number of female cadets at the RCMP training depot had dropped significantly since 2008-09 despite the need for more female officers.

"In many ways the analysis confirmed issues that we have all known to exist within the Force," Toews wrote.

While it is true the number of females enrolling in the RCMP has dipped in recent years, so has the overall number of recruits, says the report.

The proportion of women among new recruits actually climbed to 27 per cent in 2011-12 from 18 per cent in 2008-09.

And the percentage of women among RCMP depot graduates rose to 22 per cent in 2011-12 from 17 per cent in 2008-09.

"The proportion of females enrolled and graduating from Depot has increased," says the report.

Still, the report found the two primary concerns raised by members who opted not to seek promotion were "the lack of transparency in the promotional process" and the desire to be promoted based on merit.

Overall, the report found that the RCMP's policies on recruitment, promotion and officer development are "predominately gender neutral."

"The challenges identified in this assessment are not exclusive to the RCMP and are issues faced by other police forces in Canada," adds the report.

It recommends the force gather, track and monitor gender-related information in order to "maintain momentum" towards achieving more balanced representation in the force.

In his letter, Toews chided Paulson for "pre-emptively discussing" the matter with the media and "proceeding on a piecemeal basis" rather than presenting a plan the RCMP and the government could offer to Canadians.

Several female RCMP officers have come forward with complaints since Cpl. Catherine Galliford went public last year with allegations of harassment within the force in British Columbia.

Men have also complained of abusive behaviour and intimidation.

Toews' letter also calls for efforts to reduce the number of complaints, shorter timelines for addressing them and improvements in satisfaction among regular members and civilian employees with respect to their working environment.

NDP House leader Nathan Cullen accused Toews of ignoring warnings for years.

"Suddenly, the minister decides that he wants to get tough and start ordering the RCMP commissioner around," he said Friday. "The government's got to take some ownership for this thing. They helped create the environment that women have found so offensive.

"This is not new. We’ve known about this for years."

The RCMP said Paulson would not be speaking publicly Friday about the letter. In statement, the force said, "The commissioner understands the minister's letter and the RCMP and the minister are on the same side of this issue."

Paulson recently told a House of Commons committee that sexual harassment complaints account for about three per cent of the 1,100 harassment grievances filed within the RCMP since 2005. The remainder involve misuse of authority and personal behaviour issues.

When he took over as commissioner late last year, Paulson said that ridding the force of dark-hearted behaviour was one of his priorities. But he soon expressed frustration about the bureaucratic hurdles to doing so.

Currently, any serious cases — those requiring more than a reprimand — must be referred to an adjudication board composed of three senior officers who follow a heavily regulated process.

Resolution can take up to five years and the manager is largely cut out of the loop.

Under proposed new legislation, managers would get more responsibility to deal with day-to-day disciplinary issues.

The New Democrats say they will vote against the legislation because the new system would not be a truly independent process.

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  • Bob Paulson

    RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson has the job of cleaning up the Mounties' internal disciplinary process. Mounties have repeatedly written the commissioner saying they <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/08/16/rcmp-resergeance-alliance_n_1788863.html" target="_hplink">disapprove of the job he's doing</a>, drawing <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/08/10/rcmp-emails-reveal-tension-bob-paulson-tim-chad_n_1763453.html" target="_hplink">sharp rebukes</a> from the tough-talking commissioner.

  • Catherine Galliford

    RCMP Cpl. Catherine Galliford was once the public face of the Missing Women's Task Force. She <a href="http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2012/05/09/bc-galliford-civil-claim.html" target="_hplink">filed a lawsuit against the RCMP</a>, alleging she was harassed, bullied and abused.

  • Giuliano Zaccardelli

    Former RCMP Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli <a href="http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2006/12/06/zaccardelli.html" target="_hplink">resigned after admitting he gave incorrect testimony</a> to an inquiry looking into the Maher Arar affair.

  • Hugh Stewart

    RCMP Sgt. Maj. Hugh Stewart took on the nickname "Sergeant Pepper" for <a href="http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/1999/10/25/apec2991025.html" target="_hplink">pepper-spraying protesters</a> at the 1997 APEC Summit at UBC. He became particularly famous after pepper-spraying a CBC cameraman.

  • InSite

    In 2008 the RCMP were accused of <a href="http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/518193--rcmp-to-review-funding-research-against-insite" target="_hplink">misusing public funds</a> to pay for studies aimed at undermining the legitimacy of InSite, a safe injection facility in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

  • Benjamin 'Monty' Robinson

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/07/20/benjamin-monty-robinson-rcmp_n_1690216.html" target="_hplink">Benjamin "Monty" Robinson</a> resigned from the RCMP after a string of incidents including a conviction for obstruction of justice after he hit and killed a motorcyclist then went home and drank vodka to "calm his nerves." He still faces a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2011/12/26/dziekanski-perjury-trial-taser-death_n_1169854.html" target="_hplink">perjury trial</a> for his role in the 2007 Taser incident that resulted in the death of Robert Dziekanski.

  • Robert Dziekanski

    Robert Dziekanski died after being Tasered by a group of RCMP officers at Vancouver International Airport. A <a href="http://www.braidwoodinquiry.ca/report/" target="_hplink">public inquiry</a> later determined that Mounties were not justified in using Tasers to subdue the Polish immigrant, who appeared erratic and nervous after 10 hours of waiting to be picked up from the airport. A <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2011/12/26/dziekanski-perjury-trial-taser-death_n_1169854.html" target="_hplink">perjury trial</a> concerning the officers involved is still pending.

  • William Elliott

    The first civilian commissioner of the RCMP from 2007 to 2011, Elliott's management style was criticized by senior officers who suggested he needed to anger management training. He <a href="http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2011/02/04/elliott-rcmp.html" target="_hplink">resigned in February 2011</a>.

  • Highway Of Tears

    Meghan Rhoad (pictured here) of Human Rights Watch was lead researcher for a report that <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/02/13/highway-of-tears-human-rights-watch-rcmp-rape_n_2675398.html?utm_hp_ref=canada" target="_hplink">levelled blistering allegations against the RCMP</a> for its alleged treatment of indigenous women. The report alleged that RCMP officers raped and abused aboriginals in British Columbia.

  • Bullying Problem

    The <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/02/14/rcmp-watchdog-report-bullying_n_2687077.html?utm_hp_ref=canada" target="_hplink">RCMP has a bullying problem</a> that needs to be addressed by better training and record-keeping, said a report released by the force's watchdog group. The report released 718 harassment complaints filed between 2005 and 2011 and about <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/02/14/rcmp-watchdog-report-bullying_n_2687077.html?utm_hp_ref=canada" target="_hplink">90 per cent of the complaints involved bullying</a>, CBC reported.

  • Child Abuse

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/02/14/rcmp-ottawa-child-abuse_n_2688293.html" target="_hplink">An unidentified Ottawa RCMP officer</a> is facing multiple charges after a child abuse investigation. The 41-year-old man is charged with three counts of aggravated assault, three counts of assault with weapon, one count of aggravated sexual assault, one count of failing to provide the necessities of life and one count of forcible confinement.

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