Politics·Exclusive

RCMP moves director of police college into new job as misconduct review wraps up

The man in charge of the Canadian Police College in Ottawa has been moved to a new job just as the RCMP puts the final touches on a wide-ranging review into how the Mounties handled allegations of disturbing behaviour at the school.

Force also launches unusual process to undo how it originally disciplined instructor in order to fire him

The RCMP has removed the director general of the Canadian Police College and is moving to fire one of the school's former instructors just as it prepares to release results of a review into disturbing behaviour at the school.

The man in charge of the Canadian Police College in Ottawa has been moved to a new job just as the RCMP puts the final touches on a wide-ranging review into how the Mounties handled allegations of disturbing behaviour at the school. 

As the college's director general, Chief Supt. Harold O'Connell oversaw operations at the school in 2014-15 when two instructors engaged in behaviour that led several of their colleagues to allege they'd been subjected to unwanted sexual touching, bullying and harassment in the workplace.

A recent officer transfer notice the details of which were shared with CBC News shows O'Connell has been transferred to an unspecified job within the RCMP's national security division. He did not respond to a request for comment and the force refused to confirm the move. 

The force has also formally launched the process to dismiss at least one of the instructors at the explosives training unit  — Marco Calandrini — who was the subject of allegations about disturbing behaviour in the workplace.

In February 2016, after CBC News reported on the controversy at the police college, RCMP Deputy Commissioner Peter Henschel suspended Calandrini and his supervisor, Staff Sgt. Bruno Solesme.

Commissioner Bob Paulson ordered a review of everything that had occurred at the school. In addition to assembling a team of investigators, Paulson also asked former RCMP watchdog Paul Kennedy to provide independent oversight.

Review taking longer than expected

Initially the commissioner told CBC News he expected the review to take a maximum of six weeks. That was four months ago. 

People close to the investigation have said the review was exhaustive and that extensive interviews were conducted with a host of people who work or worked at the Canadian Police College, RCMP headquarters and its Technical and Protective Operations Facility. 

The work has led to several more internal code of conduct investigations as well an effort to undo discipline the Mounties had already doled out to Calandrini, a former member of the Canadian Forces who taught explosive forced-entry techniques at the college.

Calandrini was first suspended with pay along with Solesme in 2014. In the spring of 2015, an adjudication board reprimanded both men and docked them five and seven days pay respectively for disgraceful conduct relating to being nude at work during office hours.

After his suspension, Solesme was assigned back to work at the Canadian Police College. At first it was to administrative duties but by the end of last summer, he had rejoined his former colleagues as an instructor at the explosives training unit. 

As for Calandrini, he faced additional allegations of misconduct and in October 2015, he was docked an additional 15 days of pay. 

RCMP backtracks on discipline

The RCMP has since tied itself in knots in an effort to backtrack on how it initially dealt with Calandrini in order to punish him again. 

On June 27, the RCMP served Calandrini with a decision to rescind the discipline Chief Supt. Marty Chesser imposed last fall, stating it was "clearly disproportionate to the nature and circumstances of the contraventions." That means the force will have to refund all of his docked pay.

The force is now seeking to dismiss Calandrini and has served him with a notice telling him he will have to appear before an adjudication board.

Chesser did not respond to CBC's request for comment. 

"The RCMP does not publicly comment on internal staffing movements, nor will the RCMP be responding to hearsay," the force responded in an email.

About the Author

Alison Crawford is a senior reporter in CBC's parliamentary bureau, covering justice, public safety, the Supreme Court and Liberal Party of Canada.