Brian Hutchinson, Vancouver, B.C. (National Post) – On the heels of a bitter public spat between Canada’s top Mountie and two B.C.-based officers who criticized him, a new group of disgruntled officers has emerged, sniping at RCMP brass and threatening to expose certain “investigative files” and compromising pictures of members whom it deems unworthy of the uniform.
The Re-Sergeance Alliance announced itself in an anonymously written email to media outlets this week. Claiming to speak for “slightly over 500 members” inside the RCMP’s E Division in B.C., the group apparently formed as two local officers were sending letters under separate cover to Commissioner Bob Paulson, chastising him and other senior RCMP managers for a host of controversies and alleged institutional failures.
“Our Alliance is slowly now moving across the nation,” reads a missive posted this week on its website. “So those of you whom our leadership has ‘Handled’ for so many years, our so-called orchards of ‘Bad Apples,’ we simply state your time has arrived and your corruption is about to see the light and justice of your fellow Canadians.”
The RCMP has been rocked in recent months by accusations of inappropriate — even criminal — conduct levelled at some members, a preponderance of them based in B.C.
Several female members have filed lawsuits alleging harassment at work, as well.
Mr. Paulson has been attempting to mend fences since his appointment as RCMP commissioner in November. He acknowledges the force needs to be reformed, and that it employs a number of wayward officers who aren’t easily dismissed under current rules. He believes proposed changes to the RCMP Act will bring accountability to the internal disciplinary process and will make it easier for him to fire Mounties who commit crimes.
“It’s unsatisfactory that we have to continue spending your tax dollars to pay individuals that don’t deserve to be in the RCMP,” Mr. Paulson wrote in an open letter to Canadians in May. “I know that legislation alone is not enough to keep your trust … I have started working at changing attitudes and behaviours within the RCMP.”
Some Mounties aren’t satisfied. In an email sent to the commissioner in late July and leaked to the media, RCMP Staff Sgt. Tim Chad dismissed the commissioner’s promises as “lip service” and accused him of “talking down to us like we are all a bunch of screw-ups.”
Mr. Paulson responded in kind. “Your attempt to discredit my effort to have an honest discussion with the staff of the RCMP strikes me as a cheap and unsophisticated insult when you suggest that I am talking down to members,” reads his email in reply to the staff sergeant, who works from a detachment just outside Vancouver. “Wake up, Man, this organization is at risk.”
His tone upset a second veteran Mountie; he fired off his own letter to the commissioner. “I find your reply to [Staff-Sgt. Chad] aggressive, insulting, arrogant, condescending and immature,” wrote Const. Peter Kennedy, who is based in North Vancouver. “At this time I do not have very much respect for your actions. You are at this point a man of words only…. Management keeps failing with a big fat F.”
The dissident Re-Sergeance Alliance has stepped up the attack on RCMP brass, posting on its website anonymously penned screeds containing unsubstantiated accusations about a number of current and former members. They also call into question Mr. Paulson’s sincerity and undertakings as commissioner.
Mr. Paulson was unavailable for comment Wednesday. An RCMP spokesman in Ottawa said the force does not respond to “anonymous web postings.”
Another posting defends Mike Webster, a B.C.-based psychologist who treats approximately 25 Mounties suffering from work-related problems. Mr. Webster has for years been critical of RCMP leadership, describing it as “cultish,” “xenophobic” and “unhealthy.”
The RCMP informed him by letter earlier this month that it will no longer pay for services he provides its officers. “Your lack of objectivity in both your clinical work and public commentary towards the RCMP have weakened your effectiveness in treating your RCMP client base,” the letter read.
The RCMP has also lodged a complaint against Mr. Webster with the College of Psychologists of British Columbia, the body that regulates the profession in the province.
Reached at his office on Denman Island, on B.C.’s West Coast, Mr. Webster said he wasn’t surprised at the blacklisting. RCMP brass have expressed their displeasure with him before. “I wear it as a badge of honour,” he said. “I’m interested to see how the College will deal with this.”
Mr. Webster said he will continue to meet with an “RCMP members support group,” some two dozen officers who gather near Vancouver once a month to discuss their various workplace problems. He will offer his services free of charge, he said.
He noted that one of the support group members is Peter Kennedy, the North Vancouver corporal who recently criticized Mr. Paulson.
Mr. Webster acknowledged he has a relationship with the Re-Sergeance Alliance, as well. “I have intimate knowledge of them,” he said. They are real RCMP members, he insisted, not frauds. “They are credible people.”
FG_AUTHORS: RCMP Watch