Ma­jor changes needed: Watch­dog

Bul­ly­ing, ha­rass­ment thrive at RCMP, com­mis­sion says in call­ing for ma­jor re­forms

Cape Breton Post - - Canada -

Bul­ly­ing and ha­rass­ment re­main se­ri­ous prob­lems within the RCMP and only ma­jor changes to the way the po­lice force is run will make a dif­fer­ence, says a na­tional watch­dog.

In a re­port Mon­day, the Civil­ian Re­view and Com­plaints Com­mis­sion for the RCMP said the force lacks both the will and the ca­pac­ity to ad­dress the chal­lenges that af­flict its work­places.

The com­mis­sion urged the govern­ment to usher in civil­ian gov­er­nance or over­sight for the paramil­i­tary-style po­lice force.

A sec­ond fed­eral re­port re­leased Mon­day, a re­view by for­mer au­di­tor gen­eral Sheila Fraser of four ha­rass­ment law­suits from fe­male mem­bers, also called for sub­stan­tial re­forms.

In a state­ment, Pub­lic Safety Min­is­ter Ralph Goodale said both re­ports de­scribe “sim­i­lar se­ri­ous and long-stand­ing con­cerns” and will “in­form fur­ther ac­tion” to en­sure the RCMP is a healthy and re­spect­ful em­ployer.

Goodale or­dered the com­plaints com­mis­sion re­port to see if the RCMP had prop­erly acted on com­mis­sion rec­om­men­da­tions made in 2013. At the time, the watch­dog said the

Moun­ties must take swift and ef­fec­tive ac­tion to re­as­sure both mem­bers and the pub­lic.

The RCMP in­tro­duced new ha­rass­ment poli­cies and pro­cesses in 2014 aimed at promptly deal­ing with work­place con­flict be­fore it es­ca­lates.

The lat­est re­port, how­ever,

said the vast ma­jor­ity of com­plaints un­der the new poli­cies in­volved al­le­ga­tions that man­agers abused their author­ity. These in­cluded ac­cu­sa­tions of abu­sive lan­guage, such as “you’re dirt,” “peo­ple here don’t like you” and “no­body wants to work with you.”

Oth­ers com­plained of be­ing be­rated in pub­lic, puni­tive trans­fers or hav­ing leave ar­bi­trar­ily de­nied.

“Or­ga­ni­za­tional dys­func­tion in the RCMP has been well doc­u­mented and the com­mis­sion’s cur­rent in­ves­ti­ga­tion con­firmed that the prob­lems of work­place bul­ly­ing and ha­rass­ment per­sist,” the re­port said.

The com­mis­sion found that while se­nior lead­ers in the RCMP have made ef­forts to pre­vent ha­rass­ment –par­tic­u­larly at the divi­sional level – these ini­tia­tives have been limited and ad hoc and have not re­ceived the nec­es­sary sup­port from head­quar­ters.

“There has been no ef­fort by na­tional head­quar­ters to mon­i­tor their ef­fec­tive­ness, roll out best prac­tices, or in­sti­tu­tion­al­ize re­form,” the re­port said.

In­ci­dents of ha­rass­ment – some­times ex­tend­ing over months or years – can have se­ri­ous pro­fes­sional con­se­quences and can cause real emo­tional and phys­i­cal harm, the watch­dog added. In turn, this may af­fect the op­er­a­tional ef­fec­tive­ness of the RCMP.

“Deal­ing with ha­rass­ment is a com­pli­cated and nu­anced ac­tiv­ity,” com­mis­sion coun­sel Emma Phillips told a news con­fer­ence Mon­day. “It re­quires a nu­anced ap­proach.”

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