Doane Phillips Young LLP

December 07, 2006 15:42 ET

Law Firm Calls on Stockwell Day to Initiate Ministerial Inquiry into RCMP

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Dec. 7, 2006) - Doane Phillips Young LLP, which acts for several individual members of the RCMP, as well as the British Columbia Mounted Police Professional Association (BCMPPA) and the Mounted Police Association of Ontario (MPAO), applauds the Federal Liberal and NDP parties for championing the rights of RCMP members. The Liberals and NDP co-sponsored a bill to allow RCMP members to form an association to work with RCMP management, which would grant RCMP members the same rights to associate enjoyed by all other major police forces in Canada. This is the same result that the BCMPPA and MPAO continue to seek by way of a constitutional challenge brought by Doane Phillips Young LLP in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

In an open letter to Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day dated December 7, 2006, Doane Phillips Young LLP has also called upon Day to exercise his authority pursuant to section 24.1 of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act, and initiate a Ministerial Inquiry. The letter to Minister Day states:

We act for the British Columbia Mounted Police Professional Association and the Mounted Police Association of Ontario in a court application brought in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice challenging the constitutionality of the exclusion of RCMP members from labour relations legislation. We also act for several individual members of the Force in connection with their employment issues with the RCMP. These issues range from harassment, discrimination and unsafe work environments to abuses of authority and corruption by management. As a result, we are aware of the concerns shared by many members of the Force in connection with the RCMP's administration and operation. Moreover, we have witnessed the incredible lengths to which RCMP senior management will go to protect themselves from the legitimate complaints and grievances of the Force's own members.

The members who we serve are proud to be part of Canada's national police force. However, as employee satisfaction surveys have shown, the trust that members have in RCMP management is at a disturbing low. Faced with unrelenting harassment, sexual and racial discrimination, abuses of authority and widespread corruption among management, many regular RCMP members, like the public itself, have become disillusioned.

This disillusionment is only compounded by the Force's response to the legitimate grievances by the Force's members. The cover-up of wrongdoing and the protection of those favoured by senior management has become a common thread running through the members' complaints. In fact, RCMP management's practice of transferring officers facing legitimate complaints by regular members is now being likened to the conduct of the Catholic Church in protecting its priests accused of misconduct. This shuffling of 'troublesome' officers is exacerbated by the unjust system of internal resolution that members are forced to navigate for redress and which rarely results in a satisfactory resolution of grievances. The resulting futility of raising their legitimate complaints has only served to engender a sense of apathy among members to the injustice they suffer. If unchecked, this growing apathy will soon crush the morale of the RCMP's regular membership. Our clients and the many other members with whom we have worked want only to restore their pride in the Force, but rebuilding the requisite confidence and trust will require more than simply removing a few people from leadership positions.

Institutional culture and practices must be challenged to make way for the accountability and transparency that is now lacking. The Force brass must be made to acknowledge its deficiencies in administration and its lacklustre treatment of regular members. The light of public scrutiny and accountability must be brought to bear if there is to be any constructive change. To this end, a full review of the problems within the Force must be undertaken so that they can be properly understood and ultimately corrected. To accomplish any of this, the members must be heard and the public eye must be allowed to peer behind the scarlet wall.

As the Minister of Public Safety, you have both the means and the duty to investigate the many issues within the RCMP and develop solutions to address them. Section 24.1(1) of the RCMP Act provides you with the power to initiate a ministerial inquiry:

"The Minister or the Commissioner may appoint such persons as the Minister or Commissioner considers appropriate as a board of inquiry to investigate and report on any matter connected with the organization, training, conduct, performance of duties, discipline, efficiency, administration or government of the Force or affecting any member or other person appointed or employed under the authority of this Act."

On behalf of all of the members with whom we have worked over the last few years, as well as the public at large, we ask you to initiate a ministerial inquiry into the administration and operations of the RCMP with a view to understanding the problems within the organization, and with the goal of developing solutions that will bring greater accountability and transparency to the Force and ultimately restoring the trust its members and the public once had in this venerable Canadian institution.

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