John Colebourn (Vancouver Province) – Calls for an independent agency to review internal RCMP sexual-harassment complaints continue following a senior Mountie’s promise to clean up the force’s treatment of women.
B.C. Civil Liberties Association executive director David Eby said Tuesday that the announcement that the RCMP will train 100 officers to investigate internal sexual-harassment complaints still amounts to the Mounties investigating them-selves.
“I think there should be an independent body of some kind to handle these complaints. You need someone outside the [RCMP] organization for a critical and unbiased look,” said Eby.
On Monday, Deputy Commissioner Craig Callens, the commanding officer of the RCMP in B.C., announced he feels there is a “lack of confidence” with the com-plaint-reporting system and that it takes too long.
In the past 10 weeks, he said, RCMP around the province were involved in “focus groups” and he has concluded changes are necessary.
Callens said more than 100 officers will be trained to investigate internal sexual-harassment complaints along with their other duties. The investigators will be men and women of various ranks and positions.
“I recognize that we must make changes to ensure a respectful workplace for our employees,” Cal-lens said in the release.
A class-action lawsuit launched last month against the federal and provincial governments alleges harassment and poor treatment of women RCMP officers.
The alleged harassment of former Mountie Janet Merlo began while stationed at the RCMP detachment in Nanaimo more than 20 years ago, according to documents filed in B.C. Supreme Court.
Merlo, 44, is the representative plaintiff in the class-action case.
In an 18-page notice of civil claim, the former constable claims that in 1992, male officers in the detachment began making false allegations to her boyfriend that they had sex with her.
Reached at her home on Vancouver Island, Merlo on Tuesday said the RCMP are just doing damage control with the latest announcement. And she feels this will again be the RCMP investigating the RCMP.
“So many of us complained and it fell on deaf ears,” she said. “This is damage control.
“If they really wanted to change things, they would authorize an independent agency to come in and do a review,” she said. “If they [RCMP] want to be trans-parent, have an outside agency come in.”
Meanwhile, Callens is continuing his battle to get disgraced B.C. Mountie Monty Robinson fired after he was convicted last month of obstructing justice in connection with a fatal crash in Delta.
On the weekend, Callens told a group of journalists he was maddened by the RCMP process that must be followed before an officer can be fired.