Christopher Nardi (Editorial, National Post) – Often, when a division of an organization goes rogue and does something stupid, the entire organization’s reputation is tainted. Take Quebec, for example, whose Parti Québécois’ xenophobic iterations by its leader and some of its members has the entire province looking like a mass of Anglo-fearing Franco-Catholic crusaders. The unfortunate truth is that, in the case of public institutions, the actions and words of a few can have significant repercussions on the majority. Such is the case of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s problematic British Columbia based “E” Division.
The B.C. detachment of the RCMP has had serious disciplinary problems with its officers for years now. A prime example happened less than a month ago, when former RCMP Corporal Benjamin (Monty) Robinson suddenly resigned from the force, only a few days before his hearing on a conviction for obstruction of justice. Back in 2008, Robinson was driving drunk when he hit a motorcyclist, killing him instantly. Then, instead of remaining on the scene, he drove to his home, consumed more alcohol in order to throw off an eventual sobriety test by police, and returned to the scene. Despite the serious offence, Robinson was only convicted to one month of house arrest followed by 11 months of supervised probation. An extremely light sentence for a law enforcement officer who failed to enforce the law, with fatal consequences.
Robinson’s case is only of many that have relentlessly chipped away at the RCMP’s reputation, but a disturbing trend has most delinquent mounties either stationed or eventually transferred to B.C. “Unfortunately, and separate from the latest case, there’s a growing feeling that B.C. has become a dumping ground for the bad: Mounties whom the brass should be able to discharge, but cannot,” wrote National Post columnist Brian Hutchinson. “The rules don’t allow for simple, straightforward termination, even in cases that involve shocking behaviour and RCMP-committed crime.”
In an effort to restore its reputation, the RCMP brought in Commissioner Bob Paulson, who promised to cleanup the force’s punitive procedures in order to weed out the bad elements. “It’s unsatisfactory that we have to continue spending [Canadians'] 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 … but we will create a modern and even stronger organization that continues to make you proud.”
But his efforts to purge the force of its bad apples is far from applauded by members of the “E” Division. In an anonymously written email to media outlets this week, the Re-Sergeance Alliance, a group claiming to speak for over 500 of B.C.’s Mounties, threatened to expose certain “investigative files” and compromising pictures of members of upper management. Basically, both RCMP upper management and B.C.’s officers are threatening to expose the other side’s dirty secrets.
To that, I say: Hoorah!
There is no doubt that significant flaws exist in the RCMP’s disciplinary process that make firing an officer for severe offences nearly impossible, and Paulson’s call for investigation and reform infuses a much needed breath of fresh air into a dirty system. But accountability goes both ways; if the B.C. branch is so corrupted, what’s to say that the RCMP’s brass isn’t the same? If the Re-Sergeance Alliance actually have documents revealing corruption within upper management, it should be their duty to hand them over to the government for investigation. Then, if major issues are uncovered, the government can begin a top-down cleansing of the country’s most important police force. The initial shock may bury the RCMP’s reputation, but if Canadians can be certain that Commissioner Paulson and his team have clean slates, they’ll know that Canada’s police force is in good hands.
FG_AUTHORS: RCMP Watch