Concerns over sexual harassment in the RCMP were raised Monday in the House of Commons, after a series of CBC News stories last week revealed the alleged extent of the problem in the force.
A report about claims made by Cpl. Catherine Galliford — who alleges she endured years of harassment — was followed by reports about other Mounties who had come forward with similar complaints.
“What does the government intend to do about what is now clearly a systemic issue in our national police force,” Liberal Leader Bob Rae asked during question period Monday.
Defence Minister Peter MacKay, answering for Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, who has responsibility for the RCMP, said it would be up to the yet-to-be-named new RCMP commissioner to address the issue.
"The government's policy, including the RCMP, of course, is a zero, a zero tolerance with respect to harassment,” MacKay said.
Reached later, Toews also suggested that any decision on a review would have to wait until the arrival of a new RCMP commissioner, who is expected to be named soon.
“I'm going to leave that up to the new commissioner to determine,” said Toews. “But I can tell you, I will be raising it with the new commissioner shortly.”
Male officer speaks out
Other officers have taken issue with what they allege has been a failure of the force to adhere to a zero-tolerance policy.
Alberta RCMP Sgt. Jerry Hoyland has complained about 26 separate incidents of alleged harassment, but said he got only grief for his trouble.
“Everybody who’s been involved in my case has been promoted. All the harassers have been promoted,” Hoyland told CBC News. “If you're not one of the boys, then what happens is you’re going to suffer retribution.”
The alleged retribution took the form of tampering, Hoyland said.
“My worksite was being tampered with. My work private vehicle was being tampered with. My food was being tampered with. There pornographic materials left hanging on my computer," he said.
Hoyland ultimately filed a lawsuit against the RCMP, and the force argued that the alleged incidents did not constitute harassment.
An external review ruled in Hoyland’s favour and the RCMP was told it should to apologize to him. But that apology was not forthcoming and the case is now headed to court.
Calls for independent review
Former Calgary police chief Christine Silverberg said she believes there should be an independent inquiry into the harassment claims facing the RCMP.
"When you have an institution such as the RCMP, I would advise a third-party independent investigation,” Silverberg told a University of Toronto symposium. “Otherwise, the complainant is not going to feel as though she's had a fair shake in terms of the investigation."
Carleton University criminologist Darryl Davies agrees that a public inquiry is the only way for the RCMP to restore public trust.
“We need a comprehensive examination of the force from the top to the bottom that’s not beholden to the commissioner or anyone else at headquarters,” said Davies.