Aboriginal leaders are calling for an independent investigation into a 2011 incident involving Manitoba RCMP Const. Kevin Theriault and an intoxicated woman he took out of jail to “pursue a personal relationship.”
The officer drove the indigenous woman to his home after his shift in his personal vehicle. Shortly after, his corporal called him and told him to take her to her home, and he did.
The story, which surfaced in disciplinary hearing reports obtained by CBC News, has angered Churchill MP Niki Ashton.
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She said the officer’s discipline — a reprimand and a loss of seven days of pay — was not equal to the seriousness of his actions, adding that aboriginal and non-aboriginal people in her riding are outraged.
“This kind of abuse of power is unacceptable,” Ashton said. “Sadly, this is an incident that is setting off alarm bells for many people.”
“There needs to be an independent investigation,” she said. “There needs to be serious action taken.”
Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation Chief Marcel Moody is echoing Ashton's call for independent oversight of an investigation.
“Something should be done,” he said.
Moody was a councillor when the incident occurred. He said the CBC story was the first he heard of it and he was embarrassed that he didn’t know.
“I was caught off guard,” he said. “That information didn’t come forward to us.”
According to Moody, the First Nation generally has “a good relationship” with RCMP officers currently working at the detachment, and he called the incident “shocking,” adding that the behaviour of the officer was “unacceptable."
RCMP reassures public
RCMP assistant commissioner Craig MacMillan wouldn’t speak specifically about cases raised by CBC, but said recent changes to the RCMP Accountability Act will help the disciplinary process work effectively and in a timely manner.
“It’s going to take us a while to change our ways but we’ve got the legislative vehicles, we’ve got parliamentary support,” he said.
“So I think the public should take heart in that.”
According to MacMillan, there's a public complaints process and civilian body to investigate criminal activity within the RCMP.
“The RCMP does have a huge vested interest in making sure its employees act properly,” he said. “We take steps to deal with that professionally."
He said there are few disciplinary cases among members.
“I would say that less than one per cent for 23,000 employees brings some balance to the frequency with which we are dealing with this,” he said.
CBC News contacted Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Steven Blaney for an interview.
Jason Tamming, a spokesman for the minister, replied via email:
"Member discipline is under the purview of the RCMP.
"Our government passed the Enhancing Royal Canadian Mounted Police Accountability Act which includes the RCMP Civilian and Complaints Commission and created broad new powers for the RCMP commissioner to review and act on concerning events like these.
"Our government expects Members of our national police force to adhere to the highest standards of accountability and professional conduct."
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