B.C. women suing RCMP ask Justin Trudeau for help
RCMP employees ask prime minister to intervene in harassment cases
Four female RCMP employees are asking the new prime minister to stop the force from firing them before their lawsuits alleging harassment are heard in court.
"What Mr. Trudeau can do is immediately rescind the part of the RCMP Act that allows the commissioner to fire bad apples," said Cpl. Catherine Galliford.
"Right now the victims of harassment are the bad apples. We're the ones the commissioner of the RCMP is coming after."
Galliford, Cpl. Susan Gastaldo, Const. Alice Fox and Atoya Montague, a civilian employee, are all off-duty, suffering from post-traumatic stress.
"We're asking your government to be the one that ends the abuse once and for all," they wrote in a letter sent to all Liberal MPs and senators.
The letter outlines their struggles in the RCMP:
- Fox says she was harassed by a boss she caught committing fraud.
- Gastaldo was disciplined for having an affair with a boss she says forced himself on her.
- Galliford claims she was sexually harassed for years.
- Montague says unwanted sexual advances took a toll on her.
'Putting your career at risk'
The RCMP have served notice they're dismissing Montague and Galliford.
The other two fear they're next — even though their lawsuits have not been heard in court.
"It could potentially silence people from coming forward, because if you do come forward you're really putting your career at risk," said Fox, noting that she risks repercussions for speaking to CBC News without permission.
Fox said they were left with no choice but to sue their employer.
"We've all filed grievances to exercise every means to be heard," said Fox. "We've all had to actually hire our own lawyers to actually bring this outside the RCMP and into the courts."
In their letter to Trudeau, they say, "The RCMP and the government of Canada continue to pay for all the legal costs of the abusers and harassers in the RCMP, and most of these men have gone completely unpunished for their criminal behaviour."
They ask the prime minister to do two things:
- Stop the RCMP commissioner from firing alleged victims of harassment before their lawsuits are settled in court.
- Provide equal funding to the alleged victims of harassment who have had to sue the RCMP.
Thousands in legal costs
The women said they have all suffered financially to pay for their legal bills.
"I definitely was not prepared to lose my house. I wasn't prepared to lose my life savings," said Galliford in an interview with CBC News.
She said her alleged harassers get their legal defence bills paid by the federal government while she has been left broke and still waiting for a trial date, which has been postponed until 2017.
Her current legal costs are more than $250,000.
Documents obtained through the Freedom of Information and Privacy Act confirm the government is covering at least some defendants' legal bills. The RCMP would not tell CBC if all RCMP defendants' legal fees are covered or how much it has cost taxpayers.
The four women are asking Trudeau and his government to immediately scrap part of Bill C-42, which allows the RCMP to easily fire Mounties.
They say legislation that was supposed to get rid of those with behaviour problems is instead being used to get rid of complainers.
CBC News has asked the Prime Minister's Office and the public safety minister's office for a response to the letter.
They said the government is reviewing the letter and will have more to say soon.
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