Is it time for the RCMP

to ride off into the sunset?

By Copel Marcus

Remember “King of the Royal Mounted” and “the Mounties always get their man.”

Forget them. The RCMP, in the words of Jimmy Breslin’s 1969 best-seller, has become “The Gang that Couldn’t Shoot Straight.”

If the contemporary history of the Mounties weren’t as shocking and tragic as it is, they would be as laughable as the two Mafia gangs Breslin wrote about.

When former Supreme Court Justice’ Michel Bastanache’s recent report on sexual harassment within the force could state, “This culture encourages, or at least tolerates, misogynistic, racist, and homophobic attitudes…The problem is systemic in nature and cannot be correct solely by punishing a few ‘bad apples’,” then the continuing validity of the RCMP begs questioning.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s final report said, “The Central goals of Canada’s aboriginal policy were to eliminate Aboriginal governments; ignore Aboriginal rights; terminate the Treaties; and, through a process of assimilation, cause Aboriginal Peoples to cease to exist as distinct legal, social, cultural, religious and racial entities in Canada,” and described it as “cultural genocide.” The RCMP’s founding force, the Northwest Mounted Police, were enforcers of this colonial regime. The attitude prevails.

In the Toronto Star of June 11, 2020, Brandi Morin wrote, “There are injustices like the recent allegations that RCMP beat Athabasca Chipewyan First Nations Chief Allan Adam over an expired license plate in Fort McMurray, Alta. Theres the killing of 26-year-old Chantel Moore of the Tia-o-qui-aht First Nation, who was shot five times by police in Edmundston, N.B., last week. Theres the fact that in April, Winnipeg police officers shot and killed 16-year-old Eisha Hudson, then, less than a day later, Winnipeg police shot and killed 36-year-old Jason Collins. Ten days later, the same police force shot and killed 22-year-old Stewart Kevin Andrews.

All of them were Indigenous.”

Just today, March 20, 2021, the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission, the RCMP watchdog, announced its findings on the shooting death of the indigenous man Coulton Boushie. RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucky accepted the findings. The RCMP watchdog said the Mounties had racially discriminated against Boushie’s mother during their investigation. The Commission also found that the Mounties had mishandled witnesses and evidence.

Regarding misogyny in the RCMP, Justice Bastaniche’s report found that “the level of violence and sexual assault…was shocking.” Over 130 claimants reported penetrative sexual assaults. Others described the “frequent use of swear words, highly degrading expressions that reference women’s bodies, sexual jokes, innuendos, discriminatory comments with respect to the abilities of women and unwelcome touching.”

Current RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki acknowledged that she herself had experienced harassment.

Can the problems related to Indigenous people be related to systemic racism that pervades the majority of RCMP officers? I doubt it. In a Psychology Today interview, Dr. Ed Reed, an African-American professor at Seattle University, author of Politics of Community Policing, and who has been researching and teaching about the relationship between police and society for 20 years, said that about seven to 10 per cent of a police department is racist. As for misogyny, the problem pervades our society. The issues for the RCMP may be more problems of the culture and kinds of training officers receive.

I don’t know anything about RCMP training. But I take former Supreme Court Justice Bastanache at his word. The Mounties’ culture is highly toxic.

Over the years, we have seen one RCMP commissioner after another attempt to reshape its culture and fail. When the Canadian Airborne Regiment failed grossly in Somalia, where two soldiers shot two Somali youths and killed one of them, the storied regiment ultimately was disbanded. Whatever the politics of that decision, perhaps it was obvious that no amount of kneading would squeeze the rot out of the Regiment’s culture and it simply had to go.

I suggest that the same thinking should apply to the RCMP. Let it have a great musical ride on those beautiful black horses and then point them West into the sunset. Then start over to build a new national police force up to modern standards. That would include upgrading its minimum educational requirement from high school graduation to a bachelor’s degree, similar to the FBI’s.

Name of author

Name: Murray Rubin

Short Bio: I was born in Toronto in 1931 to a wonderful mother who divorced shortly before my birth. I owe a great deal of my success to her. I am Jewish but not at all religious, yet my culture plays an important part of my personality. I attended Harbord Collegiate and U. of T. Faculty of Pharmacy. A unique mail-order pharmacy was the first of my endeavours in the profession, followed by many stores throughout Ontario. I have a loving wife, 3 children and grand-children and I am now retired from pharmacy. But what do I write about? Everything! My topics are funny, serious, whimsical, timely, outrageous, inspiring, and inventive. I promise that if you take the time to read any one of these topics – you will not be sorry.

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