Douglas Quan (Vancouver Sun) – An assistant RCMP commissioner quit the force in July and now the agency confirms two more senior managers will be leaving within the coming months.
Assistant Commissioner Bernard Corrigan is scheduled to leave the force in November and Deputy Commissioner Tim Killam is set to do the same in January, though their official retirement dates won’t be until January and May 2011 respectively, RCMP spokeswoman Sgt. Pat Flood said Tuesday.
Flood rejected the characterization in some media reports that the departures represent a “shake up” of the management team after members complained about the leadership of Commissioner William Elliott earlier this summer.
Corrigan and Killam had announced their plans to retire well before the summer, Flood said.
But Linda Duxbury, a Carleton University professor who has studied the RCMP, said the optics still don’t look good to have this many departures so close to one another.
“What the perception is going to be is complaints, investigation, people gone,” she said. “The activities right now don’t promote trust or upward communication.”
Duxbury said Elliott has failed to work with his detractors “for the good of the force.”
Liberal Senator Colin Kenny said Tuesday senior managers and other staff are fearful Elliott is embarking on a campaign to force out people who spoke up against him and that negotiations over future employment have begun in some instances.
“As the force gets restructured, those who spoke up will be restructured into oblivion,” Kenny said.
Kenny declined to identify individuals involved in the negotiations by name, but the CBC reported that Deputy Commissioner Raf Souccar “has been asked to leave the force, with trust cited as the reason.”
Flood said she had no information about that. Attempts to arrange an interview with Elliott since last week have been unsuccessful.
Several senior RCMP members complained about Elliott’s leadership style this summer to the highest levels of government. In a July 20 letter, recently made public, then-assistant commissioner Mike McDonell wrote to Public Safety Minister Vic Toews saying that Elliott lacked tact and could often be heard treating staff in a manner that was “brutal, disrespectful, intimidating and careless.”
Characterizing Elliott’s leadership as a dictatorship, McDonell said senior managers had effectively stopped giving advice to the commissioner “for fear of backlash.”
He also complained that the commissioner showed up at the command centre for the G8 and G20 summits in Ontario this summer, despite being advised not to.
His presence “completely disrupted operations, which took the focus of the security force from its primary objective,” McDonell wrote.
He added that, in his opinion, Elliott had failed to cultivate relations with U.S. law enforcement and was an “unknown entity” to American partners.
McDonell quit the force in July to join the Ontario Provincial Police.
In response to the complaints, Public Safety Canada hired an independent adviser, Reid Morden, former director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, to conduct a workplace assessment of the RCMP’s management team.
Elliott emerged from the process with the support of the Harper government.
But instead of helping to reform the RCMP, Elliott has become “part of the problem,” NDP MP Don Davies alleged during question period Tuesday.
“Why does the government not stand up for courageous RCMP officers who are simply trying to improve our force?” he asked.
Toews said he did not feel it was appropriate for him to comment on the internal management of the RCMP.
Elliott was appointed RCMP commissioner in 2007 — the first-ever civilian named to head the national force.