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Time for civilian governance at RCMP, watchdog says in harassment report

May 15, 2017

Emma Phillips addresses report’s recommendations concerning harassment in the RCMP.

In a report released today, the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission has recommended that the federal government introduce civilian governance of the RCMP.

The Commission found that the RCMP’s harassment policies are difficult to understand. It also found that the definition of harassment used by the RCMP is so narrow that valid complaints may well be dismissed, and that the policies place “inappropriate emphasis” on the responsibility of the complainant to confront a harasser.

The Commission held a press conference to release the report, where Commission counsel, Emma Phillips, made a short statement and answered reporters’ questions.

As reported by the CBC,

During a news conference in Ottawa to formally release the report, commission lawyer Emma Phillips said the RCMP has been slow to change despite repeated calls for action. She said there has been a “distinct lack of follow-through and accountability.”

“The initiatives that have been introduced have been short-lived or ad hoc,” she said. “And unfortunately the effect of these one short-term initiative after another is to erode the confidence of the members that any real change will ever actually be realized.”

Retaliation and reprisals are prevalent, with officers reporting being marginalized, transferred, denied use of a police car or time off.

Some have been denied backup or been left alone at a crime scene. That, she said, could endanger the lives of officers.

“There is a concern that safety of officers could be affected,” she said.

Phillips said RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson received a copy of the report several weeks ago, but has not yet responded. She said the blame can not be pinned on any one single commissioner or senior management team, and that the situation has persisted and evolved over generations.

Emma was later interviewed on CBC’s As it Happens, and by Rosemary Barton on Power & Politics:


Emma Phillips

Practice Areas

Human Rights Law