Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Public Safety Minister Shrugs off Concerns about RCMP Boss's Fiery Rhetoric

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Public Safety Minister Shrugs off Concerns about RCMP Boss's Fiery Rhetoric

Article excerpt

Toews brushes aside concerns about RCMP boss


OTTAWA - The public safety minister is dismissing concerns that Canada's top Mountie went too far in levelling harsh words at some disgruntled RCMP members.

In the House of Commons, Liberal MP Judy Sgro said Tuesday that RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson should apologize for chastising members who have complained of bullying and harassment.

At a Senate committee meeting this week, Paulson took exception to complaints aired publicly by three particular members and accused some Mounties of being out of step with his efforts improve the police force.

Paulson said he could not continually defend against "outlandish" and unproven claims, insisting they do not define the modern RCMP experience.

Sgro said that rather than fixing workplace problems, the RCMP boss -- appointed less than two years ago -- went on the attack by painting the complainants in a negative light.

"The commissioner's shameful comments demand a public apology at least," she said. "Given the fact that commissioner Paulson clearly crossed the line in attacking the victims, can the minister please tell me if he has full confidence in commissioner Paulson today?"

Public Safety Minister Vic Toews acknowledged that "harassment in the RCMP, especially harassment that is sexual in nature, is a problem."

But he sidestepped any concerns about Paulson's comments, instead urging support for a government bill that would revamp disciplinary procedures within the force. The bill cleared the Senate Tuesday and awaits royal assent.

The legislation gives the RCMP commissioner authority to establish a process for the investigation and resolution of harassment complaints.

The government argues it will allow the force to swiftly deal with grievances that currently fester for years, sapping workplace morale and putting careers in limbo. Critics, including the NDP, say the new measures place too much power in the commissioner's hands and will only worsen relations with members. …

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