Debates of the Senate  
1st Session, 41st Parliament, Volume 148, Issue 151
  Tuesday, April 16, 2013
 
Question on Bill C-42: Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act
Senator Dyck: That was an interesting speech. The honourable senator ended by expressing great concern about how the bill might exacerbate the problems for people who bring forth a complaint. Is there nothing in the bill to provide protection for someone, particularly a member of the RCMP bringing forth a complaint of sexual harassment? Is there nothing in the bill that says a complainant cannot be fired, or transferred up to Tuktoyaktuk, or assigned duties that are more dangerous? Is there nothing in the bill to protect a complainant?

Senator Mitchell: Honourable senators, this is a complex bill, and we need to do some work in committee to try to sort out exactly how it will be applied. Much of what is in the bill gives powers to the commissioner, for example, to develop the grievance process. Much of that has yet to be developed, so we do not know.

I do not want to say there is nothing in the bill that would protect a complainant because certainly there are review mechanisms with the conduct review board and the external review board that can kick in. If anyone is to be fired, there is quite a strong process. Short of being fired, other steps can be taken. The only real guarantee you would ever have that this kind of thing could not happen in certain subtle or nuanced ways is, in many cases, what is happening now. Change the culture so that it is not contemplated or put up with, is resisted and set aside, and criticized at every single point at which cultural problems are evident in any way, shape or form.

I believe that is absolutely within reach. Probably for 99 per cent of RCMP members it may be working fine, although I have evidence that it may be a little more widespread than that. No actual structural change is necessarily contemplated by the bill that would ever finally resolve the issue. You have to fix the culture of the organization to resolve it or get as close as you can to a solution.

Senator Dyck: The honourable senator talked about how the bill may set up grievance procedures and so on.

Does anything in the bill allow the incorporation of a code of conduct or ethics or values, almost like a bill of rights for employees or complainants, that would set forth the mandate or overarching ethics in which the grievance process would be develop?

Senator Mitchell: We should have the honourable senator come to be a witness. She is right on.

There is actually provision, if not direction, in the bill for the commissioner to establish what I would think is a new code of conduct because there is a code of conduct now. However, we have no idea who he will consult to do that, whether it is the rank and file, as we would say, non-civilian members of the RCMP, or whether the public will be included. Again, that would be a step in the right direction. However, it needs more than that. The idea of implementation and the structure of the military changes were based on the military ethos, clearly defined and reinforced. To this day, you can see it when you visit bases, and we could when we were in Afghanistan. You just see it. It comes out of every pore of the military organization. You have to enforce it and make it an integral part of every last feature of the culture of that organization. That takes huge effort and energy, as well as resources. Resources are an issue.

Again, there is a code of conduct, and it did not solve the problem. You have to have a strong code of conduct and implement it strongly. All of that will not happen unless there is a real commitment and an understanding that the culture has to be strengthened, guarded and redeveloped to some extent.

Senator Dyck: I have one final question. The honourable senator mentioned the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission. Does the bill outline who selects or appoints the members of that commission? How many people? Who selects them? Will there been consideration for gender and minority representation, gender in particular because it seems, in the press anyway, that there is a lot of concern about sexual harassment.

Senator Mitchell: That is a very good point. I know from the bill that there will be five members, that there cannot be any RCMP members or retired members on the CRCC, and that they are appointed by the minister. That also is a point of contention. Are they distant enough? I do not want to pile things on, but that is an issue that could be debated to the extent that the commission itself does not go far enough. I think that sort of overwhelms the other point.

However, the honourable senator's point is very well taken. There should be some effort to have balance, certainly gender balance, and Aboriginals have a huge stake in this process.

Another report about the relationship of the RCMP with Aboriginal women is very telling and quite unsettling, certainly for Aboriginals. It should be for all Canadians, and I am sure it is for most.