Exclusion from RCMP culture part of police college problem, Paulson suggests

RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson hints that source of alleged misconduct at the explosives training unit of the Canadian Police College could that the extremely specialized people who worked there felt excluded from mainstream Mountie culture.

Comprehensive review of misconduct at college expected to be completed and made public this month

RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson speaks with reporters before appearing at the Senate Defence committee in Ottawa on Monday, where he was grilled about alleged misconduct at an Ottawa police college run by the RCMP. (Canadian Press)

RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson has dropped a hint about the findings of an on-going review of how the national police force handled allegations of harassment, nudity at the office and unwanted sexual touching at the explosives training unit of the Canadian Police College in Ottawa.

Independent Senator Grant Mitchell put some very pointed questions to Paulson about the alleged incidents at a meeting of the Senate's national security and defence committee Monday.

"As bad and reprehensible as that behaviour is, what does it say about the culture of the senior leadership in the RCMP that dealt with that case, that they would think it was sufficient penalty to dock these people's pay respectively five and seven days and put them back in the job?" Mitchell asked the commissioner.

"Doesn't that underline a serious cultural issue at the senior-most level of your organization?"

Paulson responded that he doesn't even like talking about what happened there because it is so shocking, but that he's eager for the findings of a comprehensive review he ordered back in February.

"There is some sort of way in which you might see this as being what happens when you have extremely specialized people who feel excluded from the mainstream of the culture, but I'm speaking prematurely," Paulson told senators.

Several men who taught bomb technicians at the Canadian Police College told CBC News how their direct supervisor, Staff Sgt. Bruno Solesme, and Marco Calandrini, a former member of Canadian Forces Joint Task who taught explosive forced-entry techniques, were reportedly fond of posing completely nude on each other's desks in a purported effort to shock each other; they also allegedly simulated oral sex in the office.

One former employee said Solesme regularly threatened to not renew his contract at the college. Another claimed Calandrini jumped nude and uninvited into a single-person shower stall while he was showering.

Solesme and Calandrini have refused comment on the allegations.

'How bad an apple do you have to be?'

Mitchell asked Paulson how it was possible, now that the commissioner has new powers to fire employees, that these two men had only been docked a few days pay.

"How bad an apple do you have to be if you don't get fired, dismissed, perhaps even put in jail for going naked in an RCMP office? Who are you firing?" asked Mitchell.

Paulson responded that his new powers also give him the authority to review and override disciplinary decisions and that is what he was doing just as CBC News broke the story about the college in February.

It is expected that the review of the events at the police college will be completed and released publicly later this month.