RCMP to probe sexual harassment claims

Wed Nov 16, 2011 11:43am EST
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By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada will probe allegations of widespread sexual harassment at the storied Royal Canadian Mounted Police, looking into the latest in a string of problems that have tarnished the reputation of the national force.

Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said on Wednesday he was greatly concerned by complaints from a number of present and former women officers, who said they had been mistreated and their superiors did nothing to prevent it.

"This not about dealing with individual complaints but getting to the bottom of a system that seems to be failing members of the RCMP," Toews told reporters. "Matters which affect the ability of members to discharge their sworn duties must be addressed without delay."

Toews named veteran Mountie Bob Paulson as new head of the force, a replacement for a civilian leader whose aggressive management style had prompted a revolt among senior officers.

"I am not a yeller and a screamer," said Paulson, expressing concern about the female officers' complaints.

"I want a full, fair and thorough look at how we handle allegations of sexual harassment so we can get to the bottom of the problem and fix it."

The RCMP has suffered a series of high-profile problems in recent years, most noticeably when four officers repeatedly Tasered and then subdued an unarmed Polish immigrant at Vancouver airport in 2007. He died shortly afterward.

The federal government's police watchdog investigated the incident, concluding that the officers acted prematurely and inappropriately.   Continued...