Sexual harassment claims top issue for new RCMP head

Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said Monday he is concerned about the sexual harassment claims made by members of the RCMP and will be raising the issue with the next commissioner, who has not yet been appointed.
Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said Monday he is concerned about the allegations that have recently been reported about sexual harassment within the RCMP. (Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press)

Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said Monday he is concerned about allegations of sexual harassment recently made by RCMP officers and plans to raise the issue with the force's next commissioner.

CBC News has been reporting on Mounties who say they experienced years of sexual harassment on the job. In an internal RCMP complaint, Cpl. Catherine Galliford makes serious allegations about misconduct inside the RCMP. She shared the complaint with CBC News and spoke with reporter Natalie Clancy about her claims.

After Clancy's report on Nov. 7, another female officer came forward and said she was also sexually harassed and that she was assaulted. Krista Carle said she knows of other women who have faced harassment and that when she tried to complain about the harassment she was experiencing, management tried to cover up the complaint.

Carle, who graduated from the RCMP's training academy with Galliford in 1991, is now off the job and says she has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. Galliford is also off duty and on sick leave and says she has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

"I am very concerned about these very troubling reports," said Toews, the minister responsible for the RCMP. "We expect all members of the RCMP to carry out their duties with integrity and professionalism. Our government is committed to providing all women in the RCMP a workplace free of sexual harassment. I will be raising this issue with the new commissioner very shortly."

Toews made the comments when asked by the NDP about the allegations in question period. Interim Liberal leader Bob Rae also raised the issue and Defence Minister Peter MacKay responded that he expects the new RCMP commissioner "to be seized with this issue immediately."

"The government's policy, including the RCMP of course, is a zero tolerance with respect to harassment in the workplace. That is expected of every department, particularly the RCMP," said MacKay.

The government has not yet announced who the new commissioner is that will replace William Elliott. Elliott is still in the position until the new head is named.

Elliott issued a letter to employees last week saying that although the allegations are from several years ago, they raise concerns about the current work environment. He said the RCMP follows the harassment policy set by the federal government and that anyone who feels they have been harassed should make use of it.

"If for some reason you do not get the support you require and deserve at first instance, I strongly encourage you to pursue your concerns," he wrote.

With regard to Galliford's allegations, the force responded in a written statement sent to CBC News and all RCMP staff in the province saying harassment is not tolerated.

"The RCMP is committed to providing all its employees a work environment free of harassment, discrimination and conflict, where all employees are treated with respect and dignity. While we cannot speak to specific allegations, we continue to encourage our members to report incidents of harassment when they occur so they can be investigated immediately," the statement said.



Meagan Fitzpatrick is a multiplatform reporter with CBC News in Toronto. She joined the CBC in 2011 and previously worked in the Parliament Hill and Washington bureaus. She has also reported for the CBC from Hong Kong. Meagan started her career as a print reporter in Ottawa.