Michel Bastarache speaks Wednesday, October 13, 2010 in Quebec City. An independent report on harassment of women in the RCMP says the national poiice force’s culture is toxic and tolerates hateful and homophobic attitudes. The report released today by former Supreme Court justice Bastarache says it is well past time for the federal government to take meaningful and radical action to address these issues, which have caused incalculable damage. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot

Michel Bastarache speaks Wednesday, October 13, 2010 in Quebec City. An independent report on harassment of women in the RCMP says the national poiice force’s culture is toxic and tolerates hateful and homophobic attitudes. The report released today by former Supreme Court justice Bastarache says it is well past time for the federal government to take meaningful and radical action to address these issues, which have caused incalculable damage. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot

Report on harassment, assault calls for major changes to rid RCMP of toxic culture

The report concludes that change cannot come from within the RCMP, but must be initiated from the outside

An independent report on harassment of women in the RCMP says fundamental change is needed to rid the national police force of a toxic culture that tolerates hateful and homophobic attitudes.

The report released Thursday by former Supreme Court justice Michel Bastarache says it is well past time for the federal government to take meaningful and radical action to address these issues, which have caused incalculable damage.

The report, “Broken Dreams Broken Lives,” concludes that change cannot come from within the RCMP, but must be initiated from the outside. It calls for an in-depth, external review of the institution and the future of the force as a federal policing organization.

“One of the key findings of this report is that the culture of the RCMP is toxic and tolerates misogynistic and homophobic attitudes amongst its leaders and members.”

Bastarache was the independent assessor who oversaw the provision of millions of dollars in compensation to 2,304 women involved in a class-action settlement.

While acknowledging that his team of assessors met only with those who had experienced serious forms of sexual harassment and discrimination based on their gender or sexual orientation, Bastarache says the accounts were consistent from decade to decade.

“The level of violence and sexual assault that was reported was shocking,” he writes in the report.

“Indeed, over 130 claimants disclosed penetrative sexual assaults. Other claimants described a sexualized environment in RCMP workplaces.

“This was characterized by the frequent use of swear words and highly degrading expressions that reference women’s bodies, sexual jokes, innuendoes, discriminatory comments with respect to the abilities of women and unwelcome sexual touching.”

Of particular concern in the context of policing was the denial, or the threat of denial, of backup assistance to officers, the report says.

Women who identified as lesbian, bisexual or differently gendered were subjected to ostracization, pejorative comments, sexual assaults and being outed without their consent.

“What the women told the assessors shocked them to their core. This process has forever tarnished the image of the RCMP as a Canadian icon,” the report says.

“Bright, well-educated women said that they joined the RCMP seeking to help others, sometimes because they themselves had needed help as a young person. They told the assessors of the brutal treatment they experienced which ground them down, broke their confidence and shattered their trust in their fellow officers.”

Many of the hundreds of women interviewed had been diagnosed with serious psychological injuries including major depressive disorder, post-traumatic stress, generalized anxiety, panic attacks and substance dependence.

Claimants also reported a lack of trust in the RCMP, a lack of trust in men, feelings of isolation, withdrawal from social activities, friendships and sexual relations, humiliation, lack of self-esteem and lack of confidence.

“Some reported intentionally injuring themselves repeatedly. Self-blame is common, even after blatant sexual assaults. We heard stories of women who sat with their service revolvers in their mouths and were only stopped from killing themselves when they thought of their children or their pets.”

The report makes 52 recommendations on systemic barriers, recruitment, training, human resources and staffing, maternity and parental leave, employment flexibility, grievances and discipline, mental health, promotions, leadership, specialized teams and medical examinations abuse.

Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

RCMP

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

Just Posted

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Alberta reports 1,731 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday

The province’s central zone has 992 active cases

(Photo submitted)
Ermineskin citizen graduates vet school, is part of busy practice

Dr. Justin Hodgson is rolling up his sleeves in Meadow Lake, Sask.

Jeffery Kraft. Photo submitted
Family of Jeffery Kraft feels ‘robbed’ after one accused discharged

Family of victim responds to preliminary hearing in homicide case

Ponoka Mayor Rick Bonnett is trying to enlist support from other municipalities for more equitable provincial funding for small and rural municipalities.
Photo from Town of Ponoka
Ponoka arena closing, Santa Claus Parade officially cancelled

Town of Ponoka announces new COVID-19 restrictions

A person enters a building as snow falls in Ottawa, Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. Ottawa has been successful in limiting the spread of COVID-19 during its second wave thanks to the city’s residents who have been wearing masks and staying home, said Ottawa’s medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
People to thank for Ottawa’s success with curbing COVID-19: health officer

The city’s chief medical officer said much of the credit goes to the people who live in Ottawa

Ridge Meadows RCMP are developing a new strategic plan for the detachment. (Phil McLachlan)
UPDATED: Male wanted for Montana First Nation shooting arrested

Darcy Cattleman located in Conklin, Alta.

The Red Deer Games Foundation has made changes to its grant program as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo supplied)
Red Deer Games Foundation adjusts grant program due to COVID-19 pandemic

The foundation postponed the spring 2020 grant program due to the COVID-19 pandemic

Alexandre Bissonnette, who pleaded guilty to a mass shooting at a Quebec City mosque, arrives at the courthouse in Quebec City on February 21, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mathieu Belanger - POOL
Court strikes down consecutive life sentences; mosque shooter has prison term cut

The decision was appealed by both the defence and the Crown

Gold medallists in the ice dance, free dance figure skating Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, of Canada, pose during their medals ceremony at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Charlie Riedel
Olympic champions Virtue, Moir and Tewksbury among 114 Order of Canada inductees

Moir and Virtue catapulted to national stardom with their gold-medal performances at the Winter Olympics in 2018

Shoppers line up in front of a shop on Montreal’s Saint-Catherine Street in search of Black Friday deals in Montreal, Friday, Nov. 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Black Friday shopping in a pandemic: COVID-19 closes some stores, sales move online

Eric Morris, head of retail at Google Canada, says e-commerce in Canada has doubled during the pandemic.

skip2
Rimbey Christian School students experience the joy of giving

Grades three and four students raised $2,000 for Somalian children

Most Read