6 RCMP controversies in B.C.
From pepper spray at APEC summit to Dziekanski Taser death
An international human rights organization is calling on the Canadian government to launch a national inquiry into claims from aboriginal women of alleged mistreatment by RCMP officers in northern British Columbia.
The call from Human Rights Watch is the most recent controversy for the force in a province where the Mounties have been under scrutiny.
The RCMP has grown and taken on a wide range of policing responsibilities across the country since the first officers were recruited in 1873. The force has been entrenched in B.C. for decades and polices all rural areas and all municipalities except for 13 cities where local police forces have jurisdiction.
Here's a look at some of the biggest controversies for the RCMP in B.C.
B.C. Mounties complain of harassment
In 2011, CBC News revealed a well-known Mountie spokeswoman's claims that she was sexually harassed for several years. Her story moved several other Mounties to come forward, eventually prompting a federal investigation, multiple lawsuits and promises from the government to amend the RCMP Act.
Robert Pickton investigation
The RCMP faced criticism over its handling of the Robert Pickton case. In December 2012, an inquiry found jurisdiction issues meant two police agencies — the Vancouver Police Department and and Coquitlam RCMP — were investigating the same crimes and didn't know whose case it was. In the inquiry's conclusion, commissioner Wally Oppal blamed years of inadequate and failed police investigations for allowing Pickton to prey undetected for years on women in the sex trade on Vancouver's troubled Downtown Eastside.
Death of Robert Dziekanski
Robert Dziekanski died after being stunned multiple times by a Taser during a confrontation with Mounties at Vancouver International Airport in October 2007. In the final report after a two-part inquiry into the case, retired B.C. Appeal Court justice Thomas Braidwood concluded the RCMP were not justified in using a Taser against the Polish immigrant, and that the officers later deliberately misrepresented their actions to investigators. A report released in October 2012 indicated that Taser use in B.C. has declined by 87 per cent since Dziekanski's death.
Death of Ian Bush
Ian Bush was shot in the back of the head at the RCMP detachment in Houston, B.C., shortly after he was arrested for having an open beer at a hockey game in October 2005, sparking a public outcry. The chair of the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP concluded the officer who shot Bush acted in self-defence and that the police investigation into the shooting was conducted fairly and without conflict of interest. His mother, Linda Bush, dropped a lawsuit she launched against the Mounties in 2010 because of changes made by the force and its commitment to having deaths in custody investigated by external investigators.
1997 APEC summit in Vancouver
A high-profile inquiry into RCMP actions at the 1997 APEC summit in Vancouver concluded that the force bungled its handling of demonstrations. Inquiry commissioner Ted Hughes said that many of the complaints from protesters were well founded, that the officers' use of pepper spray against demonstrators was unnecessary, that strip-searches of women were inappropriate and that the way some protesters were dealt with was inconsistent with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. But he laid the bulk of the blame for those problems on the RCMP leadership and the poor job done planning the operation, rather than on the officers on the ground.