Outspoken Mountie assigned to admin duties for refusing to shave goatee

The 15-year veteran of the force said he believes the RCMP is targeting him

A New Brunswick RCMP corporal who was rebuked for publicly criticizing the force’s top brass said Thursday he was assigned to administrative duties for refusing to shave off his goatee.

Cpl. Patrick Bouchard said he has had the goatee for two months, grown in support of the member’s yellow stripe campaign, which seeks to raise awareness about RCMP working conditions.

Bouchard said he was told on Tuesday afternoon, in the middle of his shift, to go home and shave the goatee.

The 40-year-old said the RCMP told him he was in contravention of the Canada Labour Code because a particulate filter mask used by the force would not seal properly on his face with the goatee, and that his safety was at risk.

He said when he “respectfully declined” to shave, he was told to report to work Wednesday in civilian clothing and perform administrative duties.

The 15-year veteran of the force said he believes the RCMP is targeting him for speaking out after the force was convicted last month of failing to provide its members with adequate weapons and training in the 2014 Moncton shooting that left three officers dead.

“I’ve had the goatee for two months and this is just starting to be an issue now. I find the timing of it quite suspicious,” said Bouchard in an interview Thursday.

“Other members have beards and they haven’t been issued sanctions, yet now I am being issued sanctions and being issued punitive reactions. To me that’s punitive and nobody else is being called to do that, just me.”

READ MORE: Chilliwack Mounties join the ‘no stripe’ campaign to protest wages

The RCMP said in an email statement late Thursday said it would be “inappropriate for us to comment” on the Bouchard matter.

But it said the force’s policy is for officers to keep their face clean shaven, with exceptions for religious or medical reasons.

“If a moustache is grown, it must be neatly trimmed, conservative and not excessive or unsightly,” the statement said.

The statement also said respirators are part of “established safety procedures when dealing with toxic substances and their effectiveness can be compromised by facial hair.”

“If an employee cannot be clean shaven, they cannot be involved in any work that involves the handling of toxic substances,” it said.

Bouchard, who is stationed at a detachment in Sunny Corner, N.B., told reporters after the Moncton verdict that the decision exposed the divide between the RCMP’s top ranks and Mounties on the ground, noting a conspicuous absence of senior managers in the courtroom.

Bouchard received a document last week stating that his comments were unacceptable. He says the “performance log” indicated that due to his comments, which had been televised, he did not meet the “basic competencies” required by his position.

He said at the time he was told to shave, he had not even received his particulate filter mask yet, despite being trained on the device months earlier. When he brought this to the RCMP’s attention, the mask was delivered the next day, he said.

Bouchard also says he had the goatee during training on the mask and it wasn’t an issue.

His goatee is part of the yellow stripe campaign, which seeks to draw attention to a multitude of issues including staffing, retention, recruitment, equipment and resource levels within the RCMP. Mounties have been removing the yellow stripe from their uniform, and others have been growing facial hair.

“We finally are in the process of getting an association that represents us, but we don’t have one yet. The yellow stripe movement was meant to unify the membership,” he said. “But instead of addressing the issues that we’re trying to bring forward, (management) have chosen to put their efforts into making my life difficult.”

Bouchard said he has received hundreds of messages of support from other rank and file members.

“I believe I have a responsibility to speak out,” he said. “I knew (Constables Fabrice Gevaudan, Dave Ross and Doug Larche). They were my colleagues and friends. I feel compelled to bring these issues forward so that more members don’t get hurt or injured when it could be prevented.”

The three Mounties were killed by Justin Bourque during a shooting rampage in June 2014.

In June, Bouchard wrote an open letter on Facebook condemning the testimony of then-commissioner Bob Paulson in the trial as a clear failure of leadership.

Paulson had testified that management had concerns over the possible militarization of the force as it prepared to arm officers with carbine rifles.

The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Fundraiser a test of endurance and fitness

Ponoka gym setting up to participate in worldwide fitness event

Alberta Justice Minister advocates UCP rural crime plan

Expanded property rights, more power to peace officers, demonetizing scrap mental part of UCP plan

Wolf Creek Public Schools appoints new facilities manager

Kevin Henderson to take over after Len Landry’s retirement

Ponoka UFA celebrates grand opening

New farm and ranch supply store is larger, has new features

Four Maskwacis residents charged with 38 crimes Nov. 9

Maskwacis RCMP: four arrested following armed robbery, pursuit and home invasion

Premier vows to fight for oilpatch as drillers forecast almost no growth in 2020

The CAODC said it expects the Canadian drilling rig fleet to continue to shrink

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh meets Trudeau to discuss throne speech

Top ask was the immediate creation of a national universal Pharmacare program

Jagmeet Singh says he’ll vote against throne speech if NDP requests not met

Singh is to meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday

PHOTOS: Ponoka Legion’s Remembrance Day ceremony

Guest speaker Ron Labrie recounts moving story of fallen Ponoka airman

Small group of Cherry fans protest his firing at Rogers HQ

One sign at the Toronto rally: ‘Rogers cancels Don, we cancel Rogers’

Ideas for Alberta independence would increase costs, Nenshi says

Province has formed panel to examine how to get what a ‘fairer deal’ from Confederation

UPDATED: Alexandra Lewis has been located

UPDATED: Alexandra Lewis has been located, safe and well. ORIGINAL STORY: Ponoka… Continue reading

Alberta harvest a ‘growing crisis’: MP Blaine Calkins

Alberta Conservative MP’s resolve to assist farmers struggling with harvest

Most Read