Jessica Hume (Toronto Sun) – The top Mountie in charge of cleaning up the national force has found himself in a mess of trouble for using on-duty officers as his honour guard at his wedding.
RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson reimbursed taxpayers the $912 – which represents wages for the eight Mounties in official dress – after learning the honour guard was plucked from duty to attend the Aug. 16 wedding in Ottawa.
Members of an honour guard are supposed to be off-duty while performing.
“I would like to apologize to the members and to Canadians,’ Paulson said in a statement released after hearing the members were indeed on-duty.
“I will reimburse $912 to the Receiver General as this amount represents the three hours of work of these eight constables.”
RCMP spokesman David Falls said Paulson had “asked the corps sergeant major to seek some volunteers to act as an honour guard; this is not unusual for a member’s wedding. He was not consulted on their duty status.”
Leo Knight, a former Vancouver police officer and security expert, believes it isn’t the honour guard that is at issue.
“I had one at my wedding,” he said.
Nor does he see the fact the members were on-duty as overly problematic.
“Guys would be honoured to do it,” he said.
For Knight, the most confounding element is Paulson’s handling of it.
“Paulson has nothing to apologize for,” Knight said. “When he should apologize on behalf of the RCMP – like with those photos and the sergeant in Coquitlam – he doesn’t. When he is challenged by a member, he attacks that member. And when he has nothing to apologize for, he does.
“I wouldn’t say he’s incompetent, but I certainly question some of his decisions.”
In June, a 30-year RCMP veteran sent a letter to Paulson blasting his conduct and tarnishing the reputation of the institution.
Tim Killam, a retired deputy commissioner, defended Paulson.
“Normally you wouldn’t use on-duty members for something personal (such as a wedding). But as for why he’d apologize, I don’t know.”