Douglas Quan (Edmonton Journal) – As it faces a class-action lawsuit alleging widespread sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace, the RCMP is moving swiftly to find ways to boost female representation in its upper ranks.
But in a candid interview Thursday, RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson said he’s also got to make sure such efforts aren’t perceived as mere token appointments.
“If it is, then I’m dead in the water,” he told Postmedia News.
“The women have been quite clear on this. ‘Don’t do us any favours, commissioner. Just be fair to us. Don’t be promoting women because they’re women. Promote them because they’re qualified.’ ”
Paulson was appointed late last year in the midst of an unfolding scandal that saw several women come forward with allegations of harassment in the workplace.
This week, a proposed class-action lawsuit was filed in B.C. Supreme Court on behalf of former RCMP Const. Janet Merlo, alleging she was the victim of repeated sexist comments, sexual pranks and derogatory remarks.
Paulson declined to comment on the lawsuit Thursday, but he did say, “I don’t need a class-action suit to tell me the organization needs to change. We’re changing it.”
His comments also come as two business professors – Linda Duxbury from Carleton University and Chris Higgins from the University of Western Ontario – are planning to release in the coming weeks the results of a major study of work-life and employee well-being issues among officers in 25 police agencies across Canada. Part of the study examined issues related to gender and rank.
Paulson said he has been working over the last few months with Deputy Commissioner Line Carbonneau, the highest-ranking woman on the force, to develop a strategy for diversifying the RCMP’s senior ranks.