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

Supporters gather during a rally against measures taken by government and health authorities to curb the spread of COVID-19 at the Whistle Stop cafe in Mirror Alta, on Saturday May 8, 2021. The Whistle Stop was shut down by AHS for not complying with COVID-19 rules. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Police hand out tickets to dozens leaving anti-lockdown protest in Alberta

Hundreds gathered outside the Whistle Stop Café in the hamlet of Mirror, Alta.

Oval Race track at Central Alberta Raceway. (Photo Submitted)
Central Alberta Raceways in Rimbey delays opening after health restrictions expand

Central Alberta Raceways had originally planned to open for the season at the end of May

People line up outside an immunization clinic to get their Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in Edmonton, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. Alberta leads the Prairie provinces in being the first to take COVID-19 vaccine bookings for pre-teens. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta leads Prairie provinces in accepting COVID vaccine bookings for pre-teens

The province begins accepting appointments for kids as young as 12 starting today

Asymptomatic testing will now be available for "priority groups" who are most likely to spread the COVID-19 virus to vulnerable or at-risk populations. File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS
File photo
Arrest made for armed robbery in Millet, Wetaskiwin RCMP continue to investigate

Wetaskiwin RCMP are investigating an armed robbery took place May 4, 2021 in Millet, Alta.

Dr. Karina Pillay, former mayor of Slave Lake, Alta., is shown at her medical clinic in Calgary on Friday, April 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
10 years later: Former Slave Lake mayor remembers wildfire that burned through town

Alberta announced in 2011 that an unknown arsonist had recklessly or deliberately ignited the forest fire

The body of Brenda Ware, 35, was found along Highway 93 in Kootenay National Park on Thursday, May 6, 2021. (RCMP handout)
RCMP ask for tips after woman travelling from Alberta found dead in B.C. park

Brenda Ware was found along Highway 93 in the park, 54 kilometres north of the town of Radium

A caribou grazes on Baffin Island in a 2008 file photo. A last-ditch attempt to save some of Canada’s vanishing caribou herds is a step closer after a scientific review panel’s approval of a plan to permanently pen some animals and breed them to repopulate other herds. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kike Calvo via AP Images
Parks Canada captive caribou breeding proposal gets OK from scientific review panel

Wolf density in Jasper is low enough that the animals would not be expected to be a major threat

People pass the red hearts on the COVID-19 Memorial Wall mourning those who have died, opposite the Houses of Parliament on the Embankment in London, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. On May 3, the British government announced that only one person had died of COVID-19 in the previous 24 hours. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kirsty Wigglesworth
For a view of a COVID-19 future, Canadians should look across the pond

Britain, like Canada, is one of the only countries in the world to delay second doses for several months

Nuns of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, carry some of her relics during a vigil of prayer in preparation for the canonization of Mother Teresa in the St. John in Latheran Basilica at the Vatican, Friday, Sept. 2, 2016. In which city did she do much of her charitable work? (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
QUIZ: How much do you know about these motherhood issues?

In honour of Mother’s Day, take this 10-question quiz

Canada’s chief public health officer is reminding Canadians even those who are fully vaccinated are not immune from transmitting the COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns full vaccination does not equal full protection from COVID-19

Post-inoculation, Theresa Tam says the risk of asymptomatic infection and transmission is far lower but not obsolete

Jennifer Coffman, owner of Truffle Pigs in Field, B.C., poses beside her business sign on Thursday, May 6, 2021, in this handout photo. Her restaurant and lodge have been hit hard by a closure of a section of the Trans-Canada Highway and by the British Columbia government discouraging Alberta residents from visiting during the pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Jennifer Coffman, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
‘Why we survive’: B.C. boundary towns struggle without Albertans during pandemic

Jennifer Coffman’s restaurant is located in the tiny community of Field, which relies on tourism

Most Read