RCMP muzzling testimony at Senate committee, says officer
Senator Romeo Dallaire outraged by move to prevent officer appearing at committee
A B.C. Mountie on stress leave says the force is preventing him from travelling to a Senate committee hearing in Ottawa to testify about harassment within the force.
Cpl. Roland Beaulieu was supposed to be in Ottawa on Monday, but late last week an RCMP doctor sent him an email saying if he is well enough to travel and testify at the committee then he's well enough to return to administrative work with the force.
"Should you feel that you are physically and cognitively able to participate in these hearings and to travel there, I would consider you fit for administrative duties at your unit immediately," said the email sent by Dr. Isabelle Fieschi, a health services officer with the RCMP.
But Beaulieu said he thinks the real reason he was sent the email was to prevent him from testifying at the hearings.
According to the new policy dated May 3, Mounties off duty on sick leave cannot travel to Ottawa or anywhere else outside their jurisdiction without written approval from RCMP medical staff and management.
"I believe they did this because they don't want me to speak to the Senate about violence in the workplace because it is systemic," said Beaulieu.
The 27-year veteran Mountie suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, and has been on stress leave for two years after what he calls years of harassment by unfair, dishonest bosses.
"I would call it bullying violence. I would call it violence, psychological violence, for what they did to me in my career," he said.
Beaulieu said that he after he stood up to management over a 10-day shift that violated the occupational health and safety portion of the labour code, his chance at a promotion was killed suddenly by negative assessments.
"I was being targeted and they wouldn't change it and I went to my locker, hung my gun up and walked out, and haven't been back to work since."
He suspects the RCMP stepped in to prevent his travel after Cpl. Catherine Galliford, who is also on sick leave, appeared in Ottawa to speak about sexual harassment in the force two weeks ago.
"I had various supervisors trying to be intimate with me," said Galliford last month in Ottawa.
Senator Romeo Dallaire outraged
The letter to Beaulieu has outraged Liberal Senator Romeo Dallaire, who also suffers from PTSD after leading UN peacekeeping forces in Rwanda.
The former general pointed out that he was still capable of testifying against Rwandan war criminals when he was suffering from severe PTSD.
"If I was told that I wouldn't be able to testify in front of an international criminal court, there'd be a bunch of people not in jail right now. I'm having a real problem with that philosophy," said Dallaire.
The new rule follows a government order issued in March to senior Mounties not to speak to any MPs or senators without prior government approval.
NDP public safety critic Randall Garrison has concerns about the trend.
"This appears to be another of those attempts by the minister to reach into operations of the RCMP to try and prevent other voices from being heard," said Garrison.
CBC News contacted Public Safety Minister Vic Toews's office, which did not respond directly to Garrison's allegation, but directed the CBC to the RCMP.
In an email statement the RCMP said: "The RCMP has a responsibility to the Canadians who pay our salaries, and our officers who rely on each other for support and backup, to manage our workforce responsibly. We cannot, in good conscience, pay a full salary indefinitely to an employee whose health prevents them from performing duties within the RCMP."
The RCMP officers who did testify told the Senate that Bill C-42, which is intended to modernize RCMP discipline, gives their bosses too much power and must be rewritten.
Rae Banwarie, the president of the Mounted Police Professional Association of Canada, agrees.
He said officers who speak out without permission – including himself and Cpl. Beaulieu — all risk losing their jobs.
"The fact that I am speaking here to you I am placing my own career in peril along with the executive.... I believe there will be follow up, and there will be consequences to that. Absolutely," said Banwarie.
But Banwarie said officers who speak out only do so for the good of the force.
"We're not here not here to make the organization look bad. We're here to fix it," he said.
- A previous version of this story incorrectly attributed a statement issued by the RCMP to the public safety minister's office.May 07, 2013 6:05 AM PT