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

The Vancouver Island marmot is an endangered species. Pictured here, a marmot at Mount Washington. (Black Press file)
VIDEO: ‘Frisky’ Vancouver Island marmots caught on camera

Marmots are catching the eye of researchers when caught on security cameras getting ‘quite frisky’

Karilyn, right, with her older sister, Sabrina. Both siblings are members of the YANA family, after being helped by the community organization on separate occasions. Photo supplied
Siblings both members of the YANA family

Comox Valley non-profit helped Geiger family on separate occasions

A second-floor balcony continues to smoulder after a fire extinguisher was used to get a small balcony fire under control at the Washington Inn Apartments. Brian Hayward, who lives on the third floor, was alerted to the fire by the smell of smoke wafting into his apartment. Photo by Brian Hayward.
Courtenay firefighters respond to balcony fire at Washington Inn Apartments

Firefighters were called out to the Washington Inn Apartments Sunday, April 17,… Continue reading

RCMP forensics investigators scour the site north of Highland School in Comox, where multiple people were stabbed during a party Saturday night, April 16. Photo by Terry Farrell
UPDATED: Multiple stabbings at Comox bush party

Three youths hospitalized after an assault near Highland Secondary

Cumberland is surrounded by trees — and logging. Its council is supporting a call to stop old-growth logging in vulnerable areas of the province such as Fairy Creek. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Cumberland backs request to save B.C.’s old-growth forests

The Comox Youth Climate Council is asking local governments to take stand

Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and vacation bookings are being increased in B.C. (B.C. government)
Out-of-region B.C. vacation bookings, RV ferry reservations to be refused, Horgan says

B.C. extends COVID-19 indoor dining, group fitness ban until May 25

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The following is a list of restaurants offering take-out and patio dining. ADOBE STOCK IMAGE
List of Comox Valley restaurants offering take-out, patio dining options

Restaurants in the Comox Valley continue to adapt to government-imposed restrictions in… Continue reading

(New Westminster Police)
4 youth arrested after 30-person brawl in New Westminster leaves 1 seriously injured

Police are looking for witnesses who saw the incident take place

South Surrey’s Paul Cottrell, who works with the DFO, tows a grey whale out of Semiahmoo Bay Sunday. (Contributed photo)
Dead whale floating near White Rock towed to shore for necropsy

Animal has been dead since at least April 15

Wickaninnish (Clifford Atleo) plays the drum while singing the Nuu-chah-nulth song on the court steps in Vancouver In a picture from April 2018. Photo credit, Melody Charlie.
Five western Vancouver Island First Nations celebrate legal fishing victory

Court ruling confirms Nuu-chah-nulth fishing rights in case dating back to 2003

Sunday’s storm rocked one of the ferries crossing Kootenay Lake. Photo: Dirk Jonker
VIDEO: Storm makes for wild ferry ride across Kootenay Lake

The video was captured by ferry employee Dirk Jonker

Dr. Bonnie Henry gives her daily media briefing regarding Covid-19 for the province of British Columbia in Victoria, B.C, Monday, December 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
BREAKING: Toddler marks youngest British Columbian to die related to COVID-19

Child one of eight people to die from virus this weekend

Chakalaka Bar & Grill remains open in defiance of orders from Island Health to close. (Cole Schisler photo)
Island Health seeks injunction against restaurant defying COVID-19 orders

VIHA says Ladysmith-area Chakalaka Bar and Grill also violating water and sewer regulations

Most Read