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

A recently finished $4.3-million taxiway extension at the Victoria International Airport (not pictured) is unusable because of a blind spot. (Black Press Media file photo)
Blind spot leaves Victoria airport’s new $4.3-million taxiway extension unusable

Solution has been put on hold by COVID-19 pandemic, says airport authority

Police say missing man Daniel Fortin, 55, is high-risk. (Courtesy of VicPD)
MISSING: Daniel Fortin, 55, last seen in Victoria March 1

Anyone who sees Fortin asked to call 911

Walkers ascend Mount Douglas Park on Sunday, Feb. 7. Visits to Saanich Parks are up 46 per cent compared to pre-pandemic statistics this time last year. (Darrell Wick Photo)
Oak Bay, Saanich parks peak in popularity during pandemic

Oak Bay spent an extra $5,000 on park toilet paper in 2020

This male Dungeness can safely be harvested after passing muster. An official with Fisheries and Oceans Canada says it is not clear how well locals on the Saanich Peninsula are complying with crabbing regulations, but her comments suggest that any problems might be of a minor nature. (Department of Fisheries and Oceans/Submitted)
Sidney and Sooke record 57 crabbing violations in 2020

While recreational crab fishery has ‘compliance issues,’ no evidence of ‘large scale poaching’

Cleanup happens after an overnight flood Monday damaged areas of the Oaklands Community Centre. (Facebook/Oaklands Community Association)
Greater Victorians offer flood of support to Oaklands Community Centre

Blown hot water tank Monday night leaves staff cleaning up soggy mess

Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Dr. Bonnie Henry pauses for a moment as she gives her daily media briefing regarding COVID-19 for British Columbia in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
7 additional deaths and 542 new COVID-19 cases in B.C.

Provincial health officials reported 18 new COVID-19 cases linked to variants of concern

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of March 2

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: How’s your butter?

Recent reports have some Canadians giving a second look to one of… Continue reading

Chelsea Harry was last seen Feb. 21. Photo via Comox Valley RCMP
Vancouver Island RCMP seeking help locating a missing woman

Missing person last seen in Courtenay on Feb. 21

Backcountry skiers are dwarfed by the mountains as they make their way along a mountain ridge near McGillivray Pass Lodge located in the southern Chilcotin Mountains of British Columbia, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2012. Avalanche Canada has issued a special warning to people who use the backcountry in the mountains of western Alberta and eastern British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Avalanche Canada special warning for mountains in western Alberta, eastern B.C.

Avalanche Canada also says everyone in a backcountry party needs essential rescue gear

Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson (Office of the Chief Justice)
Judge questions whether B.C.’s top doctor appreciated right to religious freedom

Lawyer for province says Dr. Henry has outlined the reasons for her orders publicly

A sample of guns seized at the Pacific Highway border crossing from the U.S. into B.C. in 2014. Guns smuggled from the U.S. are used in criminal activity, often associated with drug gangs. (Canada Border Service Agency)
B.C. moves to seize vehicles transporting illegal firearms

Bill bans sale of imitation or BB guns to young people

The City of Duncan will implement a new pilot project targeting vandalism this spring. (File photo)
Graffiti trouble? Duncan will give you the brush and the paint to remove it

Initiative based on a successful project to protect Port Alberni from unwanted spray paint

BC Housing minister David Eby is concerned that Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter will result in a “tent city” similar to this one in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / Black Press file)
‘Disappointed and baffled’ B.C. housing minister warns of tent city in Penticton

Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter could create tent city, says David Eby

Most Read