Friday, March 30, 2007

RCMP: No Whistleblowers Need Apply

I imagine the problem is greater within the force than in public perception. This article does not mention the problem of overseers of the force. A former head of the complaints commission, Shirley Heafey, has written much and complained much of the lack of co-operation she received in her job. The Iacobucci inquiry may also reveal more problems in the intelligence work of the RCMP. The issue that really bothers me is that no one suffers any punishment from errors or misdeeds. In fact if the Arar case is a good example precisely the opposite happens. As in isolating and punishing whistleblowers no bad deed goes unrewarded it seems.

Long list of Mountie miscues precedes claims of high-level corruption

Sue Bailey
Canadian Press

Friday, March 30, 2007

OTTAWA (CP) - Allegations of a pension scandal covered up by RCMP brass may be the straw that broke the horse's back.

Claims by RCMP officers of high-level corruption are just the latest round of embarrassing misadventures for a storied national police force that's had no end of bad press in recent years - from the Maher Arar affair to the infamous break-in at 24 Sussex Drive.

If true, the claims can't be dismissed by simply pinning the blame on former commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli, says University of Ottawa criminologist Wade Deisman.

It's apparent that something is rotten at the force's core, he said in an interview.

"Now we have a laundry list - a litany of misdeeds, corruption, lawlessness, failures of oversight, coverups.

"I think the government is kidding itself if they think the decision to have another inquiry is going to get to the heart of the issue. I think the heart of the issue now is about the public having lost confidence in the RCMP."

The men and women who wear the revered scarlet serge have been beset by stumbles and fumbles for at least a decade.

A commission of inquiry into the Arar case last year found that the Ottawa engineer's year-long torture nightmare in Syria very likely stemmed from faulty data passed on to the U.S. by the Mounties.

The force has been skewered for an epic but virtually fruitless investigation into the Air India bombing. Much of the bungling was blamed on former turf wars between the RCMP and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.

Other notable fiascos include a libellous letter sent by the Mounties and the federal Justice Department to Swiss authorities in the initial and ill-fated stages of the Airbus probe. Former prime minister Brian Mulroney received a $2-million settlement in compensation for the libel.

A shameful security snafu saw a mentally ill man slip undetected into the prime minister's residence in 1995 while the Mounties stood watch. Aline Chretien slammed the bedroom door shut and called the crack RCMP squad on duty while Jean Chretien armed himself with a heavy Inuit carving. They were not injured, and the intruder was arrested.

The government's decision to call a narrow inquiry into the pension allegations is "backward looking," Deisman says. More vigourous measures are needed for Canadians to have their faith in the national police force.

"To restore public confidence they have to create a forum to discuss how we can have more transparency, and more robust mechanisms of oversight and accountability."

Especially disturbing are rampant reports of internal harassment campaigns against anyone who speaks out, he said.

"What it suggests more than anything else is there are not the proper rewards or protections in place for people on the ground in the RCMP who see this stuff going on and want to report it, but fear for their futures."

A senior investigator who left the force after being blacklisted for years said anyone who crosses superiors is in for a long, tough fight.

"If you open your mouth, say, in a small detachment in Northern Manitoba you're going to be crucified," the officer said on condition of anonymity. "In a larger city ... they'll reassign you.

"You're refused trips, you're sent to places you don't want to go."

Toronto law firm Doane Phillips Young, which represents several Mounties pursuing complaints against their employer, called last fall for a ministerial inquiry into the RCMP.

In a letter to Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day dated Dec. 7, 2006, the firm cited an "institutional culture" that protects "troublesome" supervisors to the detriment of the rank and file.

"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."

© The Canadian Press 2007

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