(Black Press Media files)

Ottawa fights planned class action against RCMP for bullying, intimidation

The current case is more general, applying to employees, including men, who worked for the RCMP

The federal government is fighting a proposed class-action lawsuit against the RCMP over bullying and intimidation of members, saying the national police force already has a comprehensive policy on harassment and the Mounties have made strides toward modernization.

In a submission to the Federal Court of Canada, lawyers representing the attorney general argue the action spearheaded by two veteran male Mounties, Geoffery Greenwood and Todd Gray, should not be certified.

“This motion is not about whether there is, or has been a harassment problem in the RCMP, or even whether the RCMP leadership has appropriately responded to the problem,” the federal submission says.

“The sole question is whether the proposed claims ought to proceed through the vehicle of a class action. The proposed action fails to satisfy even the law threshold for certification.”

The RCMP has already settled class-action lawsuits involving millions of dollars of payouts for discrimination, bullying and harassment involving female RCMP members and those who served the force in non-policing roles from 1974 onwards.

READ MORE: Second $100M settlement reached in RCMP sexual harassment class action

The current case is more general, applying to employees, including men, who worked for the RCMP in a wide array of roles over the decades. It would, however, exclude women already covered by the other class actions.

Greenwood and Gray, both of whom live in Alberta, allege they were among those subjected to a culture of systemic bullying, intimidation and harassment that was fostered and condoned by the RCMP leadership.

They claim such behaviour was bolstered by barriers that “amplified a stark power imbalance” within the paramilitary structure of the force and prevented members from engaging in collective bargaining or other meaningful redress.

The sole avenue of recourse was through members of the chain of command who were either involved in such behaviour themselves or protected the perpetrators, the plaintiffs say. “This in turn created a toxic work environment, characterized by abuse of power and fear of reprisal.”

More than 800 potential class members from across the country had contacted lawyers handling the action as of last October.

The motion for certification was argued in part during two days of hearings last month. No court date has been set to complete the arguments.

The RCMP has “unequivocally acknowledged” the problem of bullying and harassment and is taking concrete steps to address it, the federal submission says.

“Indeed, concerted and ongoing efforts and resources have been directed to preventing and properly addressing conduct which is, and has always been, contrary to the RCMP Code of Conduct and RCMP policies.”

The Trudeau government has directed new commissioner Brenda Lucki to make the national police force representative of Canada’s diverse population by embracing gender parity and ensuring that women, Indigenous members and minority groups are better reflected in the upper ranks.

The RCMP has worked to implement the scores of recommendations flowing from reports in recent years that documented the police force’s shortcomings, the federal lawyers say. The suggestion that the RCMP actions are insufficient and that a class action is the only way to bring about change ignores these efforts, they add.

“Ensuring a robust internal-recourse disciplinary regime that effectively addresses inappropriate conduct is essential to changing the culture of the RCMP.”

The federal lawyers argue the case for certification also fails because the courts have consistently declined — save for the most exceptional circumstances — to assume jurisdiction over workplace disputes covered by comprehensive grievance and other specialized recourse schemes.

The existing workplace dispute-resolution and compensation regimes are preferable “and will be undermined if this action is certified,” the submission says.

Further, the lawyers argue, the proposed class definition is “overly broad and indeterminate,” stretching back to the oldest individual who was, at any point, employed by the RCMP.

Apart from the lead plaintiffs’ own experiences as regular-force members, there is no evidence of people in other RCMP employment categories who have suffered injuries as a result of harassment, the submission says.

READ MORE: Sexual harassment lawsuit vs. former BC RCMP spokesman settled

Jim Bronskill , The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Supporting a friend with mental health issues

AHS: Do you have a friend who just doesn’t seem to be their usual self?

PHOTOS: Ponoka Curling Club hosts Alberta Junior Curling Tour Event

The Ponoka Curling Club hosted its first-ever Alberta Junior Curling Tour Event… Continue reading

Jeffery Kraft of Ponoka remembered for being loving, well-liked

Kraft passed away on Dec. 15, 2019, in Lacombe at 20 years old

Deserving Ponoka student appointed to National Youth Council

Yael Witvoet will now be able to advocate for causes on a national scale

Province investigating death of Samson Cree Nation youth in care

16-year-old found deceased outside in Rocky Mountain House

Officials reaching out to those in contact with Canada’s first coronavirus patient

The illness has sickened at least 1,975 people and killed 56 in China

UPDATE Human remains found in Manny’s Motel ruins

UPDATE RCMP Major Crimes Unit Investigate Fatal Fire in Wetaskiwin

‘Presumptive case’ of coronavirus in Canada confirmed by Ontario doctors

Man in his 50s felt ill on his return to Canada from Wuhan, China

‘My heart is going to bleed’: Bodies brought back to Canada following Iran plane crash

Remains of Sahar Haghjoo, 37, and her eight-year-old daughter, Elsa Jadidi, were identified last weekend

Alberta Urban Municipalities Association wants province to make tax changes

The Alberta Court of Appeal ruled last year that municipalities are unsecured creditors

Alberta woman charged with child abduction pleads guilty to lesser charge

Womann can’t be identified under a court-ordered publication ban

Canada slips in global corruption ranking in aftermath of SNC-Lavalin scandal

The country obtained a score of 77, which places it at the top in the Americas

Wuhan bans cars, Hong Kong closes schools as coronavirus spreads

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said her government will raise its response level to emergency, highest one

RCMP receive tip on Amber Tuccaro’s homicide file

Banff RCMP contacted by a male who alleged that his father may be responsible for a missing person

Most Read