This article was originally posted on the Merlo Davidson website by Guy Versailles. You can read it here.
In his final report released today, the Honourable Michel Bastarache, C.C., Q.C., appointed to administer the Merlo Davidson RCMP Class-Action Settlement Agreement, recommends that the Government of Canada conduct an external, independent and in-depth review of the future of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). He also makes 52 recommendations which seek to address aspects of the systemic sexism and homophobia embedded in the RCMP’s culture.
Assisted by two additional Assessors, the Honorable Lynn Smith, Q.C., and the Honorable Marion Allan, both former judges of the Supreme Court of British Columbia, Justice Bastarache assessed 3,086 claims and conducted 644 interviews with current or former female employees of the RCMP who had experienced sexual harassment and discrimination based on their gender or sexual orientation.
Claimants were required to meet specific criteria agreed to by the parties and approved by the Federal Court in the Settlement Agreement to qualify for compensation. A total of 2304 women were compensated, and 782 claims were denied. In all, $ 125,266,500 was paid to claimants.
A toxic culture
“What I learned led me to conclude that a toxic culture prevails in the RCMP. This culture encourages, or at least tolerates, misogynistic, racist, and homophobic attitudes among many members of the RCMP. The problem is systemic in nature and cannot be corrected solely by punishing a few “bad apples”.
Problems known for a long time
Justice Bastarache notes that the problems faced by women in the RCMP have been known to the RCMP and to the Government for at least three decades. Both the multiple legal proceedings seeking damages for sexual harassment against the RCMP and numerous reports issued in the past 30 years have highlighted issues of harassment and discrimination in the RCMP workplace. Despite some improvement, neither legislative changes nor administrative reforms have succeeded in eliminating the toxic aspects of a culture deeply embedded in the RCMP.
“It’s time to discuss the need to make fundamental changes to the RCMP and federal policing. I am of the opinion that the culture change is highly unlikely to come from within the RCMP. The latter has had many years to proceed, has been the subject of numerous reports and recommendations, and yet unacceptable behavior continues to occur. ”
Justice Bastarache also underscores the courage shown by the women who spoke with him: “During several interviews, I heard the women say that if they presented a claim, it was not only to obtain monetary compensation, because no amount would enable them to overcome the harm they suffered, often with their families, but rather because they felt the desire to contribute to a change within the organization and to protect other female members. We must not brush their experiences aside.”
“No financial compensation can repair the damage that the Assessors witnessed. If no concrete measures are taken, the RCMP will be in the same place again in a few years.”
The RCMP and class counsel have also committed to making it public on their websites.
Higgerty Law is registering potential claimants to determine eligibility and assist in the claims process. There is no up-front fee to register or, if eligible, to make a claim. Higgerty Law understands that stepping forward to tell your story and make a claim may be traumatizing. Higgerty Law has assembled a team of PrimaryClaims Advocates with backgrounds in psychology, social work and nursing to support and protect claimants throughout the process to help you feel safe, secure and empowered. If you think you might be eligible to participate in the class action, call 403-503-8888 or 1-888-699-7826 to speak to a woman who can help you get started.