(Black Press Media files)

Ottawa fights planned class action against RCMP for bullying, intimidation

The current case is more general, applying to employees, including men, who worked for the RCMP

The federal government is fighting a proposed class-action lawsuit against the RCMP over bullying and intimidation of members, saying the national police force already has a comprehensive policy on harassment and the Mounties have made strides toward modernization.

In a submission to the Federal Court of Canada, lawyers representing the attorney general argue the action spearheaded by two veteran male Mounties, Geoffery Greenwood and Todd Gray, should not be certified.

“This motion is not about whether there is, or has been a harassment problem in the RCMP, or even whether the RCMP leadership has appropriately responded to the problem,” the federal submission says.

“The sole question is whether the proposed claims ought to proceed through the vehicle of a class action. The proposed action fails to satisfy even the law threshold for certification.”

The RCMP has already settled class-action lawsuits involving millions of dollars of payouts for discrimination, bullying and harassment involving female RCMP members and those who served the force in non-policing roles from 1974 onwards.

READ MORE: Second $100M settlement reached in RCMP sexual harassment class action

The current case is more general, applying to employees, including men, who worked for the RCMP in a wide array of roles over the decades. It would, however, exclude women already covered by the other class actions.

Greenwood and Gray, both of whom live in Alberta, allege they were among those subjected to a culture of systemic bullying, intimidation and harassment that was fostered and condoned by the RCMP leadership.

They claim such behaviour was bolstered by barriers that “amplified a stark power imbalance” within the paramilitary structure of the force and prevented members from engaging in collective bargaining or other meaningful redress.

The sole avenue of recourse was through members of the chain of command who were either involved in such behaviour themselves or protected the perpetrators, the plaintiffs say. “This in turn created a toxic work environment, characterized by abuse of power and fear of reprisal.”

More than 800 potential class members from across the country had contacted lawyers handling the action as of last October.

The motion for certification was argued in part during two days of hearings last month. No court date has been set to complete the arguments.

The RCMP has “unequivocally acknowledged” the problem of bullying and harassment and is taking concrete steps to address it, the federal submission says.

“Indeed, concerted and ongoing efforts and resources have been directed to preventing and properly addressing conduct which is, and has always been, contrary to the RCMP Code of Conduct and RCMP policies.”

The Trudeau government has directed new commissioner Brenda Lucki to make the national police force representative of Canada’s diverse population by embracing gender parity and ensuring that women, Indigenous members and minority groups are better reflected in the upper ranks.

The RCMP has worked to implement the scores of recommendations flowing from reports in recent years that documented the police force’s shortcomings, the federal lawyers say. The suggestion that the RCMP actions are insufficient and that a class action is the only way to bring about change ignores these efforts, they add.

“Ensuring a robust internal-recourse disciplinary regime that effectively addresses inappropriate conduct is essential to changing the culture of the RCMP.”

The federal lawyers argue the case for certification also fails because the courts have consistently declined — save for the most exceptional circumstances — to assume jurisdiction over workplace disputes covered by comprehensive grievance and other specialized recourse schemes.

The existing workplace dispute-resolution and compensation regimes are preferable “and will be undermined if this action is certified,” the submission says.

Further, the lawyers argue, the proposed class definition is “overly broad and indeterminate,” stretching back to the oldest individual who was, at any point, employed by the RCMP.

Apart from the lead plaintiffs’ own experiences as regular-force members, there is no evidence of people in other RCMP employment categories who have suffered injuries as a result of harassment, the submission says.

READ MORE: Sexual harassment lawsuit vs. former BC RCMP spokesman settled

Jim Bronskill , The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

SLIDESHOW: The Fraser Valley Auto Mall food drive and convoy

Convoy heads down South Fraser Way, delivers food and money to the Archway Food Bank of Abbotsford

Sweeney Singers host annual Christmas concert in Abbotsford

Event takes place Saturday, Dec. 21 at St. James Church

Four vehicle accident causing southbound gridlock on Highway 11

Accident occurred around 12:30 p.m. at intersection with Valley Road, ambulance on scene

VIDEO: Canada’s only mobile shower trailer for homeless run by Abbotsford Mennonites

Refresh Mobile Showers started operations on May 1, provided over 550 showers

VIDEO: Success of wildlife corridors in Banff National Park has advocates wanting more

Demand for more highway protection escalated after seven elk were killed by a semi-trailer near Canmore

Sharks beat Canucks 4-2 to snap 6-game skid

Vancouver visits Vegas on Sunday

Fans sing Canadian anthem after sound system breaks at BMW IBSF World Cup

The Canadians in attendance made sure their team and flag were honoured on the podium

VIDEO: Fire destroys Big White Ski Resort chalet

Social media eulogies peg the property, nicknamed “The Pharamacy,” as both loved and hated

Prince George RCMP use bait packages to catch porch pirates over the holidays

First-in-Canada program with Amazon looks to combat parcel theft

Surrey councillor wants the policing transition process to ‘immediately stop’

Brenda Locke to make motion at Dec. 16 meeting to reconsider current plan

Man pleads guilty to second-degree murder in 2017 Stanley Park stabbing

Lubomir Kunik was found by a man out walking his dog on the beach late on Feb. 1, 2017

Vancouver homeless camp brings community, safety, home, says resident

Encampment in the city’s Downtown Eastside is one of many that have sprung up in B.C.

Nanaimo mechanical engineer creates thief tracking program

Nanaimo Thief Tracking lets users plot and share information about thefts online

Most Read