Dan Burritt, Vancouver, B.C. (News 1130) – The RCMP has issued a sweeping denial of claims of sexual harassment by a well-known BC Mountie.
But, Corporal Catherine Galliford says she is glad the force is finally responding. Last year, she went public with accusations she was harassed on the job for years, leading her to developing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and coping with alcohol.
She sued the force in May of this year and her claims sparked a wave of complaints from other female Mounties and a push by the force and its new Commissioner, Bob Paulson, to root out problem behaviours and officers.
But in a joint statement, the BC and federal governments, acting on behalf of the RCMP, deny all of Galliford’s claims, instead painting her as an alcoholic who refused to get treatment.
Galliford insists she’s pleased the force is coming forward with something. “It’s fortunate for me the RCMP has come out with a statement of claim. I’m quite happy about that,” says Galliford, “because I’m kind of waiting in the wings all of the time, that’s how it feels.”
She explains she went to a doctor working for the RCMP years ago because she was drinking a bottle of wine a night to cope with the stress of the suspected harassment.
“He said, ‘You’re an alcoholic,’ and I said, ‘Okay.’ So I did everything he asked me to do. But he wouldn’t address the harassment in the workplace. And I kept on saying, ‘I can’t go back in there.’”
Galliford told the physician she would sign a “relapse prevention agreement.” “And I said to him, ‘but can you provide me with a harassment-free work environment?’ And they couldn’t.”
Asked if she is sober today, Galliford says she is trying. “I’m hit and miss, but I was never like one of those weird drunk people. But my coping mechanism was, ‘You know what, Catherine? If you feel like you’re having a panic attack, have a beer.’”
Neither Galliford’s claims nor the statement of defence by the governments have been proven in court.
Meanwhile, BC Justice Minister Shirley Bond issued a written statement saying the province is not directly involved in Galliford’s civil claim.
“Per legal procedure under the Police Act, the Province is named as defendant and these litigation matters are solely led by the federal Department of Justice. Additionally, the recently signed memorandum of agreement for RCMP policing provides that the Province is indemnified in these situations. The province may become directly involved where BC police who are not members of the RCMP are involved and in that case the province would state its position.”