(Toronto Star Editorial) – A human rights ruling in favour of a former RCMP cadet who suffered taunts and discrimination while at the force’s Regina training depot in 1999 should serve as a wake-up call to Canada’s national police.
In a decision this week, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal found Ali Tahmourpour, who is Muslim, was singled out by a training officer for wearing a religious pendant, ridiculed by another officer for signing his name in the Persian style he learned as a child in Iran, and verbally abused. Finding that the RCMP’s decision to toss him out of the program was based on discriminatory assessments of his skills, the tribunal ordered the force to reimburse him for lost wages, suffering and legal costs, and allow him to re-enrol in the cadet program. It also told the RCMP to develop protocols for dealing with harassment and discrimination, and provide diversity training to cadets and staff.
Yet this may not be an isolated case. The tribunal heard evidence that in the year Tahmourpour was in training, the attrition rate for visible minority cadets was more than double that of non-visible minorities. Even now, only 7 per cent of the force’s members are visible minorities, compared to about 16 per cent of Canada’s total population.
Common sense dictates that Canada’s national police force should represent the population it serves. Tahmourpour’s case is a timely reminder that the RCMP needs to do better.