Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security Monday, October 15, 2012 Chair

Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security Monday, October 15, 2012 Chair
Standing Committee on Public Safety and
National Security
Monday, October 15, 2012
Mr. Kevin Sorenson
Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security
Monday, October 15, 2012
● (1530)
The Chair (Mr. Kevin Sorenson (Crowfoot, CPC)): Good
afternoon, everyone.
As you heard from the minister on October 3, this bill has three
main components. I will provide an overview of the first two,
namely, the strengthened RCMP public complaints regime and the
establishment of a statutory framework for handling criminal
investigations of serious incidents involving RCMP members.
This is meeting number 51 of the Standing Committee on Public
Safety and National Security on Monday, October 15, 2012. Today
we are going to continue our consideration of Bill C-42, An Act to
amend the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act.
My RCMP colleague, Chief Superintendent Craig MacMillan,
will speak to the RCMP's modernized discipline, grievance, and
human resource management framework.
On our first panel of witnesses we have, from the Department of
Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Mark Potter, director
general for the policing policy directorate, law enforcement and
policing branch, and Anita Dagenais, senior director of the RCMP
policy division, law enforcement and policing branch.
Also, from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, we have Chief
Superintendent Craig MacMillan, director general, adjudicative
services, and Superintendent Michael O'Rielly, director of the
legislative reform initiative.
From the Treasury Board Secretariat, we have Carl Trottier,
executive director of strategic compensation management, compensation and labour relations sector.
We're looking forward to your comments.
We'll extend the time for our first panel to ensure that our
witnesses and members have ample opportunity for questions and
answers. We are going to go beyond 4:30, if that would be all right.
We have three different groups here.
Also, I see Mr. Potter here. I recall that the last time Mr. Potter was
here in the spring we started three-quarters of an hour late, I think,
and we had votes and we went back and forth. His day was cut short
then, so we certainly don't want to do that again today.
We welcome you.
Mr. Potter, perhaps we will begin with you.
Mr. Mark Potter (Director General, Policing Policy Directorate, Law Enforcement and Policing Branch, Department of
Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness): Thank you very
much, Mr. Chair. It's a pleasure to be here again.
You've already introduced the five of us at the table. I'd just like to
say that we and others have been heavily involved in developing this
legislation, and we very much appreciate the opportunity to meet
before this committee and to discuss Bill C-42 with all of you today.
Before going into the substance of the bill, I think it would be
helpful to provide some context around oversight of RCMP conduct.
When an incident or event occurs that puts into question the
appropriateness of an RCMP member's conduct, up to three distinct
processes can be triggered. Although each process is distinct,
sometimes all three are engaged. Permit me to quickly outline each
of these three processes.
The first is a public complaint, which is usually investigated in the
first instance by the RCMP. If the complainant is not satisfied with
the RCMP's handling of the complaint, which only happens with
about 15% of all complaints, he or she can seek further review by the
current Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP, or
The second is internal RCMP conduct or discipline investigations.
Similar to that of all other police services in Canada, the internal
discipline regime within the RCMP is based on its code of conduct.
If an officer conducts himself in such a way that may be contrary to
the RCMP's code of conduct, for example, by behaving in a manner
that is disgraceful or disorderly or that could bring discredit on the
force, an internal review process is undertaken.
If the officer is not satisfied with that outcome, the RCMP external
review committee, an independent review agency similar to the
CPC, will review the case and make recommendations to the RCMP
commissioner, who renders the final decision. Judicial review is
available should the officer wish to appeal further.
The third element of oversight is the investigation of police
conduct that could lead to criminal charges against an RCMP officer.
It's important to note that a criminal investigation will take
precedence over the other two processes, which may be placed on
hold until the conclusion of the criminal case.
To recap, you could have a single incident that gives rise to one,
two, or all three processes, namely: public complaint, internal
discipline, and criminal investigation.
Bill C-42 enhances and streamlines each of these three processes,
and in so doing contributes to improved oversight, accountability,
and, ultimately, public confidence in the RCMP.
In terms of the public complaints regime, this bill modernizes it in
several important ways. First, it creates a new independent
complaints commission—the civilian review and complaints commission for the RCMP, or the CRCC—in order to strengthen and
bring the RCMP's complaints regime in line with other modern
provincial, federal, and international review bodies. The chairperson
of the new commission, acting independently within the framework
of the CRCC's legal mandate, reports to Parliament through the
Minister of Public Safety. The minister is required to table the
commission's annual report in each House of Parliament within the
first 15 sitting days after receiving the report. This is a long-standing
statutory obligation that would be continued under Bill C-42.
I would note that this reporting structure is common among
review bodies and respects the RCMP accountability structure,
where the commissioner is responsible for the control and management of the RCMP under the direction of the minister.
The CRCC will have strengthened investigative powers similar to
that of a superior court of record whenever it undertakes a complaint
investigation or a public hearing of a complaint. The CRCC will be
able to summon and enforce the attendance of witnesses, compel
witnesses to give oral or written evidence under oath, and compel the
production of any documents or material considered relevant and
necessary for the investigation.
Bill C-42 provides the CRCC with access to all RCMP
information that it deems relevant to the performance of its duties
and functions, including national security information as well as
privileged information, with two important qualifications.
● (1535)
In terms of privileged information, which is sensitive and requires
a higher standard of protection, the commission will now have
access to such information if it is both relevant and necessary to the
work of the commission. To my knowledge, no other police review
body has access to privileged information by statute.
This regime sets a new standard in this regard. The commission
will not have access to cabinet confidences. This is consistent with
other federal and provincial review bodies.
Currently the CPC's work is centred on complaints. It does not
have the legislative authority to conduct reviews of RCMP policies
and procedures without a complaint first being lodged. Under Bill
C-42 the CRCC will have the ability to review RCMP activities to
assess whether these were carried out in accordance with legislation,
regulations, and policies.
Such reviews will serve as an early warning signal, identifying
issues or trends before they become the subject of a complaint or
delving into matters for which there is often limited direct interaction
with the public, for example, national security activities. These
CRCC reviews will examine the RCMP's compliance with
legislation and policies and make recommendations to the RCMP
commissioner and the Public Safety minister through public reports.
October 15, 2012
Further, the bill addresses provincial and territorial calls for
enhanced RCMP accountability to contract jurisdictions. As you
would have heard from the Minister of Public Safety, the proposed
changes to the RCMP Act are designed to enhance the accountability
of the RCMP and to support the implementation of the new 20-year
contract agreements entered into with the provinces and territories
this year, which include enhanced governance and engagement.
Provinces and territories that contract RCMP police services have
told us that they want to be kept apprised of police complaints in
their jurisdictions. Accordingly, provincial police complaints bodies,
which exist in all provinces, will be notified whenever a complaint
against the RCMP is filed in contract jurisdictions.
In addition, contract jurisdictions will receive the CRCC's reports
on relevant individual complaints in their respective jurisdictions,
tailored annual reports, and reports on relevant policy reviews.
Separate from the complaints process, Bill C-42 will increase the
transparency and accountability of criminal investigations into
serious incidents involving RCMP members, essentially addressing
long-standing concerns regarding the RCMP investigating its own
A serious incident is any incident in which the actions of an
RCMP member may have resulted in death or serious injury or is of
significant public interest that it merits an independent criminal
investigation. In these latter cases, the Commissioner of the RCMP,
the Minister of Public Safety, or the appropriate provincial or
territorial minister will determine if the public interest is such that an
external investigation is required.
There will be a clear, legally mandated three-step hierarchy for
handling criminal investigations involving RCMP members. First,
investigations into these incidents will be referred, subject to the
province's approval, to an independent provincial civilian investigative body that has as its mandate to undertake criminal investigations
of incidents involving police officers. Civilian investigative bodies
currently exist in B.C., Alberta, and Nova Scotia. Manitoba has also
passed legislation to allow for such a body.
Second, if these provincial bodies are unable to take on the
investigation, or in those provinces where they do not exist, the
RCMP will be required to refer the investigation to another separate
police service where feasible. For example, for a serious incident
involving an RCMP member in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, the case
would be referred to another police service, such as the Regina
Police Service.
Finally, as a last resort, when neither of these options apply, the
RCMP would undertake the investigation itself and would be
required to take special measures to ensure the investigation is
unbiased and impartial. It is important to note that when these
criminal investigations are undertaken by the RCMP or another
separate police service, an independent observer could be appointed
from the province or the new commission to ensure the impartiality
of the investigation.
October 15, 2012
That concludes my overview of the proposed strengthened RCMP
public complaints regime and the new statutory requirements placed
on the RCMP regarding serious incident investigations involving
RCMP officers.
tions of fairness permit. During conduct proceedings, members will
have access to representation from either a staff relations
representative or legal counsel. Decisions on measures may be
appealed to the commissioner.
Let me now turn to my RCMP colleague, who will outline the
provisions for the new RCMP HR management framework.
When a manager has imposed a measure that includes a penalty of
more than one day of pay or demotion, the member will be able to
seek a review through an independent third party, the external review
committee. The committee will provide a report containing findings
and recommendations for the commissioner, who then makes the
final decision on appeal, subject to judicial review. Timelines will be
established to ensure the process is conducted in a timely fashion,
including the establishment of service standards for the external
review committee.
Thank you very much.
● (1540)
The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Potter.
Mr. MacMillan.
Chief Superintendent Craig MacMillan (Director General,
Adjudicative Services, Royal Canadian Mounted Police): Good
afternoon, Mr. Chair and members of the committee. Thank you for
providing us the opportunity to appear before you.
I will briefly highlight how Bill C-42 will contribute to enhancing
accountability and responsibility within the RCMP through the
reform of certain key human resource management processes.
One of the primary concerns regarding the existing RCMP Act is
that it limits the ability of a manager or supervisor to deal with
incidents of misconduct. If an incident is considered to require more
than a reprimand or forfeiture of one day's leave, responsibility for
the case is taken out of the hands of the immediate manager, as it
must be forwarded to an adjudication board for a formal hearing.
There, before a board composed of three officers, an adversarial and
time-consuming process of formally presenting evidence in a courtlike setting occurs. Bill C-42 provides a framework that permits and
empowers managers closest to the action, so to speak, to identify and
respond more promptly and more effectively to the vast majority of
incidents of misconduct.
Particularly important to all stakeholders and to the public is that
the bill expressly articulates the purposes of the conduct regime,
including a code of conduct that emphasizes the importance of
maintaining the public trust and the high standard of conduct
expected of members, establishing a process for dealing with
contraventions in a fair and consistent manner at the most
appropriate level and for the imposition of measures that are
proportionate to the nature and circumstances of the contravention
and, where appropriate, are educative and remedial rather than
Managers will be provided with the ability to ensure that relevant
information is gathered to determine if a member has contravened
the code of conduct, and, once a member has had the opportunity to
provide a response to the allegations, to determine the most
appropriate response.
This approach is not only consistent with how issues of
misconduct are generally dealt with in the public service, it also
accords with a trend in police reform in other Commonwealth
jurisdictions to handle incidents of misconduct through less
formalistic mechanisms.
Cases in which a member may face dismissal will be referred to
conduct boards that have greater latitude to manage hearings as
informally and expeditiously as the circumstances and considera-
The bill also provides the commissioner with the authority to
establish procedures for the investigation and resolution of
harassment complaints, including sexual harassment, when the
respondent is a member. This authority is necessary for the
commissioner to deal with concerns that have been raised in respect
of harassment in the RCMP workplace. Presently, the RCMP is
required to consider complaints of harassing behaviour through two
processes, one defined by the Treasury Board harassment policy and
the second through the legislative provisions of the RCMP Act.
The Treasury Board harassment policy focuses on preventing and
stopping harassing behaviour through early intervention in order to
return the workplace to a respectful and professional state. The
current RCMP Act discipline system is designed to determine if a
contravention of the code of conduct has occurred, and, if so, to
impose a consequence on the offending member.
The issue of relationship repair or complainant participation
during investigation or hearing does not really form part of the
discipline process at present. This dichotomy has resulted in an
inordinate amount of time being spent trying to comply with
conflicting processes in place of addressing and resolving the matter
of harassment.
In addition, the RCMP is actively pursuing the establishment of a
comprehensive respectful workplace program that focuses on the
prevention and early resolution of harassing behaviours, which will
also be bolstered by the new investigation and conflict resolution
processes in Bill C-42.
During the October 3 meeting of this committee, the minister and
commissioner described how the bill will provide new authorities for
the commissioner to, among other things, discharge and demote
members on non-disciplinary administrative grounds. A question
that has been raised in relation to these authorities is whether
members will be adequately protected.
First, it is important to note that these proposed authorities
essentially mirror those provided to deputy heads under the Financial
Administration Act and to other Canadian police executives. The
authorities are remarkable in the RCMP context only in that they
were not previously available to the commissioner in the proposed
form. Second, it is important to note that Bill C-42 requires that these
authorities be based on cause.
Finally, as with cases of misconduct, members will have access to
representation and advice and will have the right to grieve these
decisions, which will be subject to independent examination by the
external review committee and to judicial review if necessary.
I'd also like to briefly address how the bill will support cultural
change in the RCMP.
Legislation alone cannot bring about a cultural change, nor can it
ultimately prevent any or all bad behaviour. However, what the bill
can do is to serve as a catalyst for change.
● (1545)
First and foremost, the bill provides a statutory framework to
ensure that members are responsible and accountable for the
promotion and maintenance of good conduct in the force.
Further, it will permit and require managers to manage. Where
members have not behaved consistent with expectations, managers
at the most appropriate level will have both the responsibility and
authority to deal with most incidents of misconduct in a timely, fair,
and proportionate manner. The requirement to create and apply a
professionalized, informal conflict management system will also
provide members, their representatives, supervisors, and managers
the ability to identify and resolve workplace issues as they arise and
not let them fester. All of these factors are important to sustaining a
culture of accountability and responsibility in support of a respectful
Finally, unlike the strictures of the current act, an important
feature of Bill C-42 is that it provides an overall framework that
enables ongoing reform and modernization of RCMP human
resource processes. The ongoing ability to develop and adapt such
processes based on experience and practice is a central component to
enhancing accountability and assuring the continuing transformation
of the RCMP.
It will be our pleasure to provide further information and response
to any question the committee may have.
October 15, 2012
when it comes to allegations of police misconduct, the minister
No, I don't agree. Police should investigate police because sometimes they're the
ones with the expertise to investigate. You don't want somebody who has no
experience or no ability to investigate the police.
That was what Minister Toews said at the time, which I think
provides context.
What I would like you to do, Mr. Potter, is explain again the three
options that are available in the priority that you gave, where, first of
all, there would possibly be a civilian investigative body that would
provide the investigation for a matter of serious incident; the second
option being, if one of those is not available, another investigative
body within that province or jurisdiction; and then the third one,
which I think is where everyone wants assurance that if that third
option is taken there would be checks and balances and measures so
that it would be unbiased and impartial.
● (1550)
Mr. Mark Potter: Thank you very much.
As you rightly note, there is an important consideration here of
ensuring that you have a high-quality, credible investigation of the
police. That requires a certain level of skill and experience by the
individuals conducting that investigation. You want to balance that,
on the other hand, by ensuring that public confidence is strengthened
in knowing that it's not necessarily the police investigating the police
when at all possible. This scheme tries to find the right balance, one
that recognizes the important principles at play and some of the
operational realities.
Thank you.
The Chair: Thank you to both presenters.
I think those are the only presentations that are going to be given
at this time, so we'll move into our first round of questioning.
We'll go to Ms. Bergen, please, for seven minutes.
Ms. Candice Bergen (Portage—Lisgar, CPC): Thank you very
much, Mr. Chair.
Thank you to all the witnesses for being here. We really appreciate
your expertise and the information you will be providing.
I want to address my question to Mr. Potter specifically, and I
want to talk about when serious incidents happen with the RCMP.
To provide a little bit of context, at our last meeting, Mr.
Scarpaleggia said that the Minister of Public Safety and our
government have changed our views on civilian oversight bodies. I
had a chance to review the blues from the minister's appearance on
March 18, 2010, at this committee. When the minister was asked if
he agreed with the concept that police should not investigate police
The three-step hierarchy is very much intended to do that. It's not
that you pick one of the three; you start with the first option, and if
that doesn't work—and only if that doesn't work—you go to the
second. The first option in B.C., Alberta, and Nova Scotia is that the
province would refer that matter for investigation to the existing
civilian police investigation body. It would be unusual if there was
some reason they couldn't do that. That would be the process you
would use. You ensure public confidence in the process by knowing
there's an entirely separate civilian investigative body with the right
skills and experience to fully conduct that investigation.
If you are in Saskatchewan or another contract jurisdiction and
you don't have one of these civilian investigative bodies available to
you, you would go to the next-best option, which is to have a
completely separate police service conduct the review. That ensures
there's impartiality, that there is no possibility that members of the
same police service who know each other—perhaps socially—would
be investigating one another. You rule out any partiality.
October 15, 2012
If that is not possible, for whatever reason—and it's usually
operational, such as in the far north or somewhere where you can't
get a police service there quickly enough—you would have the
RCMP conduct the investigation. In that case, there would be an
obligation on the RCMP to demonstrate that they have gone through
that three-step process and they haven't been able to refer to a
civilian body or have another police service do it. Moreover, they
would have to explain what measures they are taking to ensure the
impartiality of the investigation they are conducting on themselves.
For example, there would have to be information provided on the
nature of the RCMP investigators. Do they have any connections
whatsoever to the individuals being investigated?
The CPC did an important report about two years ago that
reviewed RCMP investigations and looked at this question of
impartiality. They established a number of benchmarks to look at in
terms of ensuring the impartiality of the investigation. That provides
a useful framework to help the RCMP and all police services to
ensure that in the approach they take when they are placed in a
situation of having to investigate themselves, they take as many steps
as possible to ensure impartiality and a lack of bias.
We'll now move to Mr. Garrison, please, for seven minutes.
Mr. Randall Garrison (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, NDP):
Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you to all of you for appearing here
I unfortunately had to be in my riding, so I wasn't here for the
minister's presentation, but I had a chance to review the blues.
I still have some concerns I'd like to raise in the areas of
independence of the new commission and the investigations and
access to information.
Let me start by talking about some restrictions, which seem quite
significant, on the ability of the new commission to undertake
On top of all that, for those last two options of another police
service or the RCMP being involved, an observer can be appointed.
This is an independent observer appointed by, for example, the
province or territory, who would have the necessary skill set to
understand how investigations are undertaken and who would be
able to provide an impartial assessment of the quality, credibility, and
impartiality of that investigation. That provides an important tool to
make adjustments, if needed, during the course of the investigation.
Let's say the Regina Police Service is conducting the investigation of
an RCMP member; the observer would have the capacity to contact
the chief of police in Regina and say, “This is what I have observed.
I have problems with this. It needs to be fixed.”
You said that one of the positive things is that it can do more
proactive studies without waiting for complaints. Yet there seem to
be three big restrictions in the law. First, it has to have the resources
available, implying that the old work of reviewing individual
complaints takes precedence over the new power. Second, the new
commission cannot undertake any investigation if there's already an
investigation under way by any other government entity. And third is
that the new commission would be required to suspend any
investigation at the request of the commissioner. The word used in
the section is “shall” suspend rather than “may” suspend.
If, for whatever reason, it's not fixed, the report at the end of the
process goes to the provincial attorney general. That is taken into
account in going forward with this matter, so there are a number of
steps taken to buttress the process of police investigating police.
To me, these seem like some very severe restrictions on the
independence of the new commission. I wonder if you have any
comments in those areas.
The Chair: You have one minute.
Ms. Candice Bergen: I have a very quick follow-up. It appears
there has been consultation with provinces and provincial jurisdictions in setting up this process. Overall, would you say the provinces
and other jurisdictions are supportive? Are they satisfied that they
will be able to have input, and that these decisions will be made and
these investigations carried out in an impartial manner?
● (1555)
Mr. Mark Potter: I have been working on this file for five years.
We have gone to extraordinary lengths to consult with the provinces
and territories, given the nature of that contract relationship through
which, in effect, the RCMP is acting as the provincial police service
in many jurisdictions. It's their police service. It's extremely
important to them that this regime meet their needs. We have gone
to a number of meetings with them where we have discussed in great
detail all aspects of this bill that are relevant to them. We have a high
level of support. Perhaps you will have an opportunity to hear from
them more directly if they are able to appear before this committee.
The Chair: Thank you very much. Thank you, Ms. Bergen.
Mr. Mark Potter: That's an important question, because this is a
new element, and it responds to a number of key recommendations,
including from Justice O'Connor in his report a few years ago. It
takes the level of review of the RCMP to a whole new level.
Essentially what it does is give pretty broad discretion,
recognizing the first two points you mentioned that limit that to
some degree. But I would argue that the scope and the range of
activities they can look at are as broad as everything the RCMP does
with respect to their mandate under the RCMP Act, the Witness
Protection Program Act, and so on.
Let me speak specifically to the first two points you raised. First,
conducting this review will not unduly diminish their ability to
review and process public complaints. What that is basically saying
is that your core business is public complaints. You need to keep
processing those public complaints.
The policy reviews are something you will need to do in the
context of your budget. However, what the government has done, in
this case, is increase the budget of the agency. You had a base budget
in the last several years of $5.4 million annually. It has been
increased by $5 million to $10.4 million annually. Now, I should
caveat that by saying that they got an increase from Treasury Board
over the last few years of about $3 million. Really it's about $2
million more a year, and a big reason for that additional $2 million
per year is to conduct these policy reviews. There will be resources
available for the policy reviews right from the beginning to allow the
agency to do that.
In terms of other review bodies looking at it, it's just a question of
efficiency. If you already have another body looking at a matter, you
probably don't want someone duplicating that process. That's not to
say that the other review body might complete its process and there
might still be outstanding questions or other matters this body may
feel it appropriate to look at. They may choose to do that at that time.
These are constraints only in the sense that the chair of this new
body has to inform the minister. It's not the case that the minister is
going to say, “No, I don't want you to do that.” This is an
independent body, and the chair will conduct those policy reviews.
There is no capability for the minister to say, “I do not want you to
conduct review X.” The body will conduct the review.
Mr. Randall Garrison: The RCMP commissioner can do that.
Mr. Mark Potter: Yes, the commission, the chair, and the new
commission have the legal mandate to proceed completely
independently in these matters.
Mr. Randall Garrison: But the RCMP commissioner, and I'll
have to search my section, has the right to request the suspension of
any investigation.
● (1600)
Mr. Mark Potter: That's only under rare circumstances, where
the review gets into some kind of a criminal investigation and
impinges upon, let's say, either an ongoing or a potential criminal
investigation and could hinder that criminal investigation. As
mentioned in my opening remarks, criminal investigations take
precedence over all other processes and need to be completed first,
before any of these other processes can start.
Mr. Randall Garrison: Is that restriction on criminal investigations actually written in that section of the bill? I don't remember that
it is.
On the question of who is going to do these investigations so that
we have civilian confidence that the police force is not investigating
itself, I find one curious submission. That's the question of federal
policing. Who investigates in the area of federal policing? You
focused on the contract policing. There are responsibilities of the
RCMP, which are strictly federal policing. Is there any change
proposed in this bill for the investigation if it involves federal
Mr. Mark Potter: The three-step hierarchy refers to all RCMP
conduct, whether it's under the federal policing mandate or
provincial contract responsibilities.
Mr. Randall Garrison: You are proposing that, say, the British
Columbia unit could investigate the RCMP's handling of national
security matters?
October 15, 2012
Mr. Mark Potter: If a criminal incident was alleged related to the
conduct of an RCMP member, and given the constitutional
responsibility of the provinces to administer justice, yes, the
provincial body would investigate the criminal matter.
Mr. Randall Garrison: That's a matter of concern on this side of
the table. The RCMP has some national responsibilities. Having
provincial bodies investigating in those areas might create a
patchwork of decisions in different provinces about how things are
being handled, which are essentially federal matters.
If I have time, I want to ask one last question, and that's on access
to information. It says that for privileged information there would be
some restrictions. In the Arar inquiry, Justice O'Connor was very
clear in saying that he thought the civilian complaints commission
should have the same kind of access to information as CRCC does—
in other words, very few restrictions, only cabinet confidence and
solicitor-client privilege, with an obligation to check on the release
of information before sensitive information would be released. Why
is that model not being used in this case?
The Chair: Answer very quickly, please.
Mr. Mark Potter: The short answer is we have an extraordinarily
robust regime in this legislation for access to privileged information
that balances the sensitivity of that information and the need to
protect that information to the greatest extent possible. It recognizes
that when it is relevant and necessary for the consideration of a
certain matter, it can be accessed under fairly constrained conditions.
This is unique in Canada, and it is an innovation to have such a
system in law. It goes well beyond by expressly laying out the nature
of the system and the checks and balances of what exists in terms of
The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr. Potter.
We will now move back to Mr. Leef for seven minutes, please.
Mr. Ryan Leef (Yukon, CPC): Thank you, Mr. Chair. Thank you
to all our witnesses today.
On the modernization aspect of the bill, I was going to ask a
question about one of the recommendations that came from the
RCMP's Reform Implementation Council's fourth report. That report
highlighted a program, the RCMP reserve program, which uses
retired officers to provide backfill capacity and mentor younger
members. From my experience in the RCMP, the mentorship
program was invaluable. I certainly see that representing the Yukon,
where they use a reserve program a fair bit for longer stretches of
time to provide necessary relief to a lot of our remote communities.
October 15, 2012
My understanding right now is that reservists who are hired on
short-term contracts have frequent downtime mixed up in that to
conform with pension rules. It prohibits the longer-term or
progressive use of that reservist program. It seems to me that might
be a little cumbersome, having a member on for six months, then
giving them some time off, and then getting them back on for
another six months. It creates some challenges, particularly in rural
and remote Canada, where we are using them for relief, or where you
want to continue or extend a mentorship program, and you want to
maintain that continuity without a break. Am I reading this right? Is
that how that works? Is how that system works a cumbersome
obligation for the RCMP right now?
C/Supt Craig MacMillan: That is. I will let Superintendent
O'Rielly address that. He has a little more detail on it.
Superintendent Michael O'Rielly (Director, Legislative Reform Initiative, Royal Canadian Mounted Police): Thank you,
Mr. Chair.
The RCMP reserve program itself has been in operation since
approximately 2004, and it's been run on a pilot basis for the last few
years. It is an incredibly useful tool in terms of backfilling vacancies
and being able to provide the seniority that sometimes can be
lacking, especially in some of our smaller or more remote areas.
The challenge you speak of, the way the program is administered,
has to do with a lack of clarity, if you will, between the way the
reservists are appointed and a particular statement under the RCMP
Superannuation Act. Reservists are right now hired for a period of
three years. However, that three years is broken up into periods of
six months less a day, and at the end of six months less a day, a
reservist is required to take a two-week cessation period.
The idea of that is to ensure there is no mix-up between being
appointed under the RCMP Act and then the RCMP Superannuation
Act. The RCMP Superannuation Act says that if a person is
appointed under the RCMP Act but is not appointed as a member—
and this is an incredibly important point, because reservists aren't
appointed as members, they're appointed as reservists—they are
appointed as an employee in the public service. It becomes
confusing in terms of trying to administer the program. If we have
someone who has worked for six months plus one day, does that
mean they're no longer a reservist but instead they are now a public
service employee?
This lack of clarity has caused issues in terms of the
administration of the program. It does impact our ability to deploy
for greater than six months. There is also the question, if someone
were to work for six months plus a day, of whether that would have
an impact on their benefits, for example, pension allotments or
There is some clarity required around that particular question.
● (1605)
Mr. Ryan Leef: Okay.
Everybody here at the table has worked heavily with this piece of
legislation. Obviously, from your indication, you'd probably be
amiable to us considering some form of amendment to clear that up.
Has anybody on your side worked on any sort of amendment, or
do you have any ideas on how we can sharpen that up a little for
your benefit?
Supt Michael O'Rielly: The opportunity would be to ensure that
notwithstanding that particular subsection of the RCMP Superannuation Act, which is subsection 3(3), a person who is appointed
as a reservist is not to be considered a public service employee.
Mr. Ryan Leef: Okay. Thank you.
The Chair: Two minutes.
Mr. Ryan Leef: There's a bit of discussion around the impartiality
and lack of bias that's important with the changes in the act. We're
talking, generally speaking, about community and the public's
perception of the investigations. It would be just as important that
members of the RCMP feel there's impartiality and lack of bias in the
process if they're subject to an investigation.
I'm speaking from a rural region of Canada, where sometimes
rumours can turn into fact really quickly and they supercede any
kind of investigative work that is going on. It doesn't matter what the
outcome of the RCMP's investigation is; the public don't necessarily
believe that. I think some front-line members might be concerned
that because of that public input and pressure they may not be
subject to an impartial investigation.
What kinds of things are in the act to ensure—I guess with the
independent body, this might answer the question itself—that an
independent review might allow for both public confidence and
front-line member confidence in the investigative process, which
sometimes can have its own wings in the small regions of our
Any comments on that?
The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Leef.
Mr. Mark Potter: Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I think the member's question gets at some of the fundamental
principles that underlie this legislation. Arguably, one of the most
important and fundamental roles of government is to provide public
safety, and in that context having a policing service that enjoys the
confidence of the people is absolutely essential. Measures such as
this get at an issue where....
Particularly in some other countries, police investigating police
has been considered to be done inappropriately and has led to loss of
confidence in the police service. That can have a very negative effect
on the officers themselves, which is exactly what you're saying. The
members themselves are often the strongest advocates for wanting to
ensure there is a completely unbiased process. Even though they feel
in many respects that they do these investigations in an impartial
way, they know that public perception is very important, so
addressing that perception is important for them to be able to retain
the confidence of the people they serve.
● (1610)
The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Potter.
We'll welcome Madame St-Denis here today. Welcome to the
committee. She's a new member, filling in for Mr. Scarpaleggia.
You have seven minutes.
Ms. Lise St-Denis (Saint-Maurice—Champlain, Lib.): Thank
I will ask a couple of questions that may already have been
answered, since I am only here temporarily. I have three brief
October 15, 2012
Ms. Lise St-Denis: I was surprised to learn that only 15% of
complaints were resolved. Do you think that the new bill or the new
structure will improve the situation? Fifteen per cent is not very high,
given that this is a basic process.
Mr. Mark Potter: Thank you very much.
On page 8, it says that the new commission will have strengthened
investigative powers similar to that of a superior court of record.
Who will sit on this commission?
We have seen this in the employment insurance bill. Judicial
power was simply transferred to a committee or a commission. So
who will sit on this commission? Is it a matter of transferring judicial
You will have a great opportunity when you hear from the
commission itself, the current CPC, I believe later this week or soon,
about some of their statistics on complaints.
Mr. Mark Potter: Thank you very much.
In terms of the composition of the commission itself, Bill C-42
allows for the appointment of a chairperson, as well as up to four
additional members of the commission. These are Governor in
Council appointments by the government, and these are the
individuals who will lead that organization and have certain powers
within the context of the act.
To support these individuals there is a public agency that is made
up of some 40 to 50 individuals. I believe you'll be hearing this week
from Mr. McPhail, who's the current interim chair of the
commission, and he can give you more details. It's a fairly robust
body that exists to provide the support to conduct the investigations
and to compile the information on complaints. That's the office in
In Surrey, B.C., they have an intake office that works with
complainants to process the complaints and ensures that particularly
those individuals who may not understand the process very well or
need support can be assisted in preparing their written complaints so
they can be submitted and reviewed by this agency.
These public servants form the bulk of the agency, conduct the
investigations, and develop the reports, but ultimately, it is the chair,
appointed by the government and acting independently within its
legal mandate, that approves those reports and submits them.
Ms. Lise St-Denis: When I read what is on page 4, I was very
surprised to learn that during the first stage of the public complaints
process, as few as 15% of complaints were resolved.
The new bill—
The Chair: Madame St-Denis, we're having a problem with our
translation. Nothing's coming through here.
Ms. Lise St-Denis: I apologize.
The Chair: That sounds better. All right, please continue. Sorry
for the interruption.
This regime builds on the existing regime, and under both
regimes, in the first instance, when an incident happens and a
member of the public wishes to make a complaint, they can go
through three doors: they can complain directly to the RCMP; they
can complain to the Commission for Public Complaints; or they can
complain to the provincial complaint body. In doing that, although
there are three means by which the complaint is submitted, normally
in the first instance the RCMP itself would investigate that
complaint. There may be exceptions to that depending on the nature
of the incident, but in the vast majority of cases the RCMP would
conduct the investigation.
The rationale behind that is that many of these complaints are
fairly minor. I guess that would be one way to describe them. There
might be concerns about the attitude of the officer involved, or there
might have been a misunderstanding regarding the number of
investigative resources that would be applied to the case. Often
through a discussion directly with the RCMP and the RCMP
member involved, the matter can be resolved informally and both
parties can walk away quite satisfied that they understand what
happened and they're comfortable with the outcome.
The first instance is to have the RCMP investigate the matter.
What happens in that figure you were referring to is that in 85% of
all those instances where the RCMP reviews the matter, the
individuals involved are satisfied with the outcome and there is no
role for a further review by the independent complaints investigation
In the 15% left over, the complainant is told that if he's not happy
with how this matter was handled, he has the option of having this
matter investigated by the independent complaints review body, and
they will conduct that investigation. They can do the investigation
directly. They can ask the RCMP to do further investigation around
it, or they could do both. The goal is to get all the information
relative to the matter, and if they, in conducting their own
independent investigation, reach a different conclusion from the
one the RCMP reached, they will convey that to the RCMP and say
here's the interim report on this matter—here's what they found;
here's what they recommend. The Commissioner of the RCMP will
have an opportunity to consider that interim report.
October 15, 2012
In the vast majority of cases, the commissioner will accept the
independent findings and recommendations of the independent body
and will proceed on that basis, which often involves some kind of
corrective action, for example, training of an RCMP member,
reminding him or her of certain policies and procedures to follow in
certain instances. The RCMP will typically be in concurrence with
the findings and recommendations.
If, in those rare instances, the commissioner feels on some basis
that he does not agree with those independent findings and
recommendations, he has the opportunity to provide his views in
writing back to the independent review body prior to its finalizing
the report. The independent review body will take those comments
and input from the commissioner into account and may find that
adds some useful information for the investigation, or it may find
that it doesn't add useful information and it may continue to believe
that the matter needs to be handled in a certain way; it will convey
that through its findings and recommendations, and that final report
will go to the commissioner, to the minister, to the RCMP member
directly involved, and to the complainant directly involved.
external review committee. They would then make findings and
recommendations, and it would come to the commissioner.
In those instances when the adjudication board didn't dismiss the
member, there is no right of appeal for the manager. That's where the
case stops. In that instance, the commissioner would not have the
authority to effectively make the final determination on whether that
employee should be dismissed, because there is no appeal authority
● (1620)
Ms. Rosane Doré Lefebvre: Therefore, without a recommendation to the commissioner, the commissioner will not have the power
to dismiss that person. A recommendation must absolutely be made.
Is that correct?
C/Supt Craig MacMillan: No.
I'll keep my answer in the discipline realm.
By going to the minister there is the opportunity to make the
minister aware, given that he is accountable for the force and can
direct the force on any issues that in the minister's view are cause for
concern. It is a check and a balance on the powers and authorities of
the commissioner, aided by independent findings and recommendations from the review body.
● (1615)
The Chair: Thank you very much.
If you have an allegation of misconduct against a member
presently, and the appropriate officer, which is the commanding
officer of the division, is seeking dismissal—they think that's the
correct sanction that ought to be imposed—it's a requirement, under
the current act, that there be an adjudication board held. There are
three officers. They will hear the evidence. If they find that the
misconduct is established, they will then turn to what sanction they
would impose.
We'll move back to the opposition, and we'll go to Madame Doré
In the instance where the board says they are not going to fire the
member, the manager doesn't have an ability to appeal, and it is
effectively terminated there.
You have five minutes.
Ms. Rosane Doré Lefebvre (Alfred-Pellan, NDP): Thank you
very much, Mr. Chairman.
If the board does dismiss, and the member appeals, it goes to the
ERC. Then it would go to the commissioner, who would have the
opportunity to make a decision on whether he or she agreed with the
board. Or maybe if the ERC said they thought termination was too
harsh, the commissioner ultimately would then have the ability to
make the decision.
Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to thank you for being here to
answer our questions. We have several of them, because this is a
large bill. I am very pleased to see you here, and to hear your
answers to our questions.
I tried to go through the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act over
the last few days. There is a lot in there.
Bill C-42 contains many amendments to the act. If you could shed
some light on a few issues for me, that would be greatly appreciated.
Under the current legislation, the commissioner has the power to
hire and fire members. Under Bill C-42, the commissioner would
have more power to fire or to sanction a member of the RCMP. I
would like to know why this is necessary, since the commissioner
already has this kind of power.
C/Supt Craig MacMillan: In terms of a dismissal as a result of
discipline, the commissioner doesn't do that directly, in the first
instance. The adjudication board would have to make a determination that there had to be a dismissal. If the member appealed that
decision, it would only be at that point that it would go to the
That's in the area of dismissal.
If you're talking about performance-related matters, there is a
legislative process under the RCMP Act. Again, there is a board
involved and a decision is made.
The commissioner is not directly making these decisions. These
decisions are coming to him, through the final instance, to make a
decision, but it really depends on which process you're in.
I wouldn't view it as a situation where the commissioner is
actively going out and saying that he or she is hiring someone and
then has the ability to necessarily, in all instances, terminate
somebody's employment.
Ms. Rosane Doré Lefebvre: I have read the provisions contained
in Bill C-42 which would add new ones to the act. I was struck by
proposed subsection 4(1), which is on page 16. I will read it out
loud, since some of you might not have it on hand:
(4.1) A member is not entitled to have access to a standardized test used by the
force, or to information concerning such a test, if in the opinion of the
commissioner, its disclosure would affect its validity or continued used or would
affect the results of such a test by giving an unfair advantage to any person.
I don't quite understand this subclause as worded in the bill. What
is its purpose? What is it going to change or bring about within the
C/Supt Craig MacMillan: Presently, under the RCMP Act, when
a grievance is filed in relation to a promotion matter, there is a
requirement under the act that information that is relevant and
necessary to establish the grievance or deal with the grievance is to
be disclosed to the member.
There are some limitations, such as national security and other
things. It's very expensive to develop testing instruments for
promotional processes. What this is designed to say is that you
would get access to other relevant information, but the test itself,
where the criteria met are established, would not be disclosed. My
understanding is that this exists in the public service regime as well.
The Chair: Thank you very much.
We'll now move back to the government side and Mr. Norlock,
please, for five minutes.
Mr. Rick Norlock (Northumberland—Quinte West, CPC):
Thank you, Mr. Chair, and through you to the witnesses, thank you
for attending.
My questions will be directed primarily towards Chief MacMillan.
On page 3, you indicate that:
Bill C-42 provides a framework that permits and empowers managers closest to
the incident to identify and respond more promptly and more effectively to the
vast majority of incidents....
First, are you able to speak to the difference in the time to
investigate offences or breaches of conduct, etc., under the old
system as compared to the new system proposed under Bill C-42?
Could you walk us through why you are saying it is going to be
much faster?
● (1625)
C/Supt Craig MacMillan: Presently, if you were talking about
anything that's formal—we're talking about formal discipline and
you're asking for more than a reprimand or a one-day forfeiture of
leave—it's required to go to a board. For informal and formal
discipline, depending on the nature of the case, it would probably
average about one year to do the investigation. Bill C-42 will address
that. The commissioner will have the ability to make rules around
timelines and other matters relating to investigations.
Moving into the next step, which is the formal adjudication board,
the data shows we're averaging between 12 and 16 months. The
members said, “We think you did something bad. Here's your notice.
We're taking it to a hearing.” It's about 12 months before that matter
is actually going to get to a hearing, so you're already up to about 24
months in total.
If the discipline that's imposed upon the member in the formal
process is appealed to the commissioner, it would go to the external
review committee. At present, it's two years for the external review
committee to review a matter. It then goes to the commissioner, and
October 15, 2012
there's been anywhere from six months to a year to do that process.
Since Commissioner Paulson has come in, we've managed, through
his dedicated attention to these matters, to get the timeline for formal
discipline appeals down.
Under Bill C-42, the vast majority of these matters, which are
below dismissal, are not going to require a formal adjudicative
Recurring in any reports that we've had is that it's too legalistic,
too formalistic, and it's seen purely through a lens of a legal process.
Rather than trying to deal with the performance and conduct that's at
issue at the local level—they're going to have to have checks and
balances involved in that process—the idea is that we should be
talking about a matter of days or weeks, not months and years.
I'd say that roughly 98% of our discipline should be dealt with
through the more informal process that will be proposed under Bill
C-42. It creates the framework around which, through rules,
regulations, and policies, you can create a process that can adapt
to the changes.
It relates to what Mr. Potter was talking about when you're trying
to resolve public complaints. There is an ability to marry these things
together. We'll be required to inform public complainants about what
discipline is going to be imposed.
I can see managers having the confidence now because they know
that on the one hand they have the ability to resolve public
complaints; on the other hand, if there's performance or conduct
that's at issue, they can resolve that as well. It's not leaving their
hands and going into a formal process where they have no control,
and really it's not dealing with the conduct at the level that it should
Mr. Rick Norlock: Thank you.
I have a follow-up question to do with the code of conduct. Bill
C-42 addresses a code of conduct. Are you able to speak to what this
will be? It's nice to say “code of conduct”, but without being too
specific, and yet giving an overview to Canadians who will be
looking at this, what would be some of the conduct that would be
required? What would be in that code?
C/Supt Craig MacMillan: What's proposed under Bill C-42 is
that there will be a regulation that can create the code of conduct.
Our current code of conduct is very formal. It is written in legal
language and there are a lot of sections. The proposal is that through
consultations with the stakeholders, employees, external partners,
and others, we'll come up with a conduct code that I can envision
being a page and a half. It will be stated more as positive ethical
principles and obligations on responsibilities and performance.
Britain has some experience with that. We've looked at what
they've done, and they've come up with a positive statement that
members “will” instead of members “shall not”, and then getting into
a series of specifics. It's more in keeping with reforms that are
happening generally.
Am I correct that the code is regulation, or is it CSO?
Supt Michael O'Rielly: It is a regulation.
The Chair: Thank you very much.
October 15, 2012
Thank you, Mr. Norlock.
We'll move back to Mr. Rousseau. You have five minutes, please.
Mr. Jean Rousseau (Compton—Stanstead, NDP): Thank you
very much, Mr. Chairman.
I have many questions about the disciplinary measures. In one
sentence, which jumped out at me, it says that the new act will force
managers to manage. I thought there already was an ethics code.
However, under the new bill, it is as if this code had never been
applied, and did not allow managers to manage.
In particular, my questions are about disciplinary measures and the
ranking of sanctions. How will the appeal process work? How will
the valid reasons that may trigger disciplinary measures be defined?
● (1630)
C/Supt Craig MacMillan: If I've understood, there would be
three parts to your question in terms of a code of conduct.
Mr. Jean Rousseau: Yes, sorry about that.
C/Supt Craig MacMillan: That's okay.
There currently is a code of conduct, you're correct. We intend to
modernize and upgrade what we have as a code of conduct, so it's
more relevant to how human resource processes have progressed.
In terms of managers being able to manage, as I've explained, the
difficulty is that if you're looking for more than a reprimand,
essentially you don't have an ability to deal with that. It's off into a
formal process that's going to be occurring outside of your
immediate area. So the notion that you're managing it...yes, we
have managers who are managing, but the problem is once it gets to
a certain level, it's out of their hands. If we bring it down to the most
appropriate level, that allows them to effectively deal with it. If there
are performance issues, if there are wellness issues and other things,
it's really keeping it where it ought to be, and not pulling a piece of it
away and they're caught in this timeline where it could take months
or years for a matter to be resolved. Again, if it's not a dismissal
matter, I think most people would accept that it's more appropriate
that it be dealt with at the lowest and most appropriate level in the
organization, which is your direct manager.
In terms of appeals, an appeal process will be created. One of the
things we're anticipating is that any decision to impose measures will
be subject to an appeal. Right now we do have certain disciplinary
actions that are not subject to grievance or appeal, such as
counselling or recommendation for transfer, but we're proposing
that all those things be subject to appeal and it will be one level. But
if you're going to be getting a financial penalty of more than one day
because of the importance of having externality and independence, it
will go to the external review committee and they can have a look at
In terms of cause, we've now moved out of the dismissal context.
We're into other administrative processes for discharges. Processes
will be created, which this legislation would enable us to do. An
example of a cause would be if you're an employee or a member and
you lose your security clearance. There's a reason you lost your
security clearance. That would provide cause. But we currently don't
have the authority to dismiss an employee because they don't have a
security clearance. That's an example of where we'd modernize a
process to recognize that it's not just for any reason; there's a specific
reason that has to be established why they don't have a security
clearance. That's a requirement for employment, and that would be a
grounds for cause.
Mr. Jean Rousseau: Thank you very much.
You also refer to a change in culture within the RCMP police
force. The leaders of the organization will need strong will to
provoke a change in culture, a change in conduct and, mostly, a
change among individual members. How will you apply that out in
the field? Are RCMP officers and workers on the ground calling for
this change? Or rather, is it due to public pressure that you are
considering this change?
C/Supt Craig MacMillan: I think it's an ongoing process. There
have been a series of reports and examinations covering a wide
swath of activity by the RCMP, from operations to human resource
practices. Certainly civil actions have been started. We've had
grievance processes and we've had complaints. I would say to you,
yes, we do have employees who are saying we need to have
processes that are more effective and more timely. And part of that
process is getting them to have trust in the processes we have and
that the organization is being effective.
If it's taken five years to dismiss an employee who clearly ought to
be dismissed, that's not going to instill a lot of trust and confidence.
Mr. Jean Rousseau: It's not very effective.
C/Supt Craig MacMillan: And our surveys show us that. The
employees say they're untimely and they're not doing that. We are
responding to our own internal surveys and other examinations that
have demonstrated that trust and confidence are things we need to
work on. I think an element that most would agree on is that if it's
timely, it will proceed more quickly, and that will instill a change in
culture because people will believe that things will be acted upon.
The Chair: Thank you very much. That was a good question, Mr.
Let's move to Mr. Hawn, please, for five minutes.
Hon. Laurie Hawn (Edmonton Centre, CPC): Thank you,
Chair, and thank you to all the witnesses for being here.
I want to clarify something, just to be 100% sure it gets reflected
correctly, Mr. Potter. It reflects back to a question from Madame StDenis. Just confirm that 85% of complaints are satisfied at the first
level and only 15% have to move on to further action. Is that correct?
Mr. Mark Potter: That's correct.
Hon. Laurie Hawn: Okay, thank you.
How have these changes been received by members in the field,
Chief Superintendent MacMillan or Superintendent O'Rielly?
● (1635)
C/Supt Craig MacMillan: You'll be hearing from our staff
relations representatives.
I think there's some anxiety because there's change and we're in a
bit of a catch-22. We need the framework, which is what we want,
which provides adaptability and the ability to change, but at the same
time we can't nail down the details. We have to consult. This is going
to be a consultative process; we'll be involving our representatives
and our employees. We don't want to come out with the widget built,
because then you're accused of not consulting. So it's a catch-22.
My general sense is that there is positive support for the changes
when you talk to employees and they understand that the most
appropriate level in their organization will have more authority to
deal with that, but we need caution. You've got to have checks and
balances on that process.
Hon. Laurie Hawn: I guess my next question follows along with
Will that consultation then work its way back to this committee for
C/Supt Craig MacMillan: No, I'm sorry.
Hon. Laurie Hawn: It is going to follow on....
C/Supt Craig MacMillan: That would be post-enactment.
Hon. Laurie Hawn: It's the evolution of the process down the
C/Supt Craig MacMillan: Yes. The bill provides the framework,
and then we consult and create.
Hon. Laurie Hawn: Mr. Potter, I think this one would be to you.
You talked about when there is no investigative body in a province.
For instance, Regina would investigate something in Moose Jaw.
Maybe that's a bad example, but it seems to me that's pretty close.
They are pretty close; they are side by side.
Is there an ability, where there's not an investigative body in a
province, to use an investigative body from another province?
Mr. Mark Potter: Yes, there is. For example, in the Yukon right
now, if there is a serious incident, there is an arrangement—it's still
evolving, but it actually is in operation—whereby ASIRT, the
Alberta Serious Incident Response Team, which is a civilian criminal
investigative review body in the province of Alberta, will conduct
investigations in the Yukon. If there's an incident involving an
RCMP member in Whitehorse and you want an independent
criminal investigation of it, you can call on the Alberta body to do
There are arrangements like this across the country. For example,
if there's an incident in Nunavut, there's an arrangement between the
Ottawa Police Service and the Government of Nunavut that the
Ottawa Police Service will fly up to Nunavut and conduct the
Hon. Laurie Hawn: Those are two cases where they are
territories, which obviously have very small populations and police
forces. What about the case of something happening in Saskatchewan? Is it possible for Alberta, Ontario, or somebody else that has
an investigative body to do that investigation in Saskatchewan?
Mr. Mark Potter: It depends. I would have to look specifically
into it. This is an evolving area. For example, the one in B.C. just
became operational last month.
October 15, 2012
There are processes in place to build these bodies where it makes
sense. For example, in Nova Scotia, I know there have been
discussions with New Brunswick, P.E.I., and Newfoundland to use
the existing and new Nova Scotia body, primarily for reasons of costeffectiveness. You have the body. It's a civilian-led body. It can
conduct these investigations, rather than, say, New Brunswick.
Instead of recreating that, given the size of their jurisdiction and the
small number of these incidents, why not use the Nova Scotia body?
Those arrangements are evolving and are at different stages,
depending on the jurisdiction.
In the case of Saskatchewan, yes, it's entirely possible that the
Government of Saskatchewan—it's their call—could ask the Alberta
body, the B.C. body, or the one that's emerging in Manitoba to
conduct those investigations.
Hon. Laurie Hawn: We talked about investigations, priorities,
and so on. Chief Superintendent MacMillan, would the commissioner have to justify to someone when ceasing an investigation due
to a higher-priority criminal aspect, or would it simply be obvious?
Madam Dagenais.
Ms. Anita Dagenais (Senior Director, RCMP Policy Division,
Law Enforcement and Policing Branch, Department of Public
Safety and Emergency Preparedness): Perhaps I can answer that.
It goes back to the earlier question. The duty to suspend is under
subsections 45.74(1) and 45.74(2). There is a provision there that if
the chair of the Public Complaints Commission finds that their
review of a complaint could seriously hinder a criminal investigation, then under that provision the chair has a duty to suspend the
complaint investigation until that criminal investigation is done.
The next provision gives that discretion to the commissioner. If
the commissioner feels that it is interfering and prejudicing the
criminal investigation, he or she can, in writing, ask the chair to
cease. It's a stay, really, just to put it on hold. The commissioner has
to explain the reasons for that request.
The Chair: Thank you.
Mr. Garrison, please.
● (1640)
Mr. Randall Garrison: I'm going to try to guess what Mr. Hawn
was going to ask.
Ms. Dagenais, you've clarified for me that both sections have a
restriction with respect to criminal. We get into a situation where it
says, “investigation or proceedings”. Of course, in Canada, we don't
have a statute of limitations. That could mean a criminal
investigation could remain open. Therefore, the commissioner could
request the permanent suspension of an investigation. Is that the way
you would read it?
Ms. Anita Dagenais: You would have to show how that
complaint investigation is interfering with the criminal investigation.
Mr. Randall Garrison: Who would the commissioner show that
Ms. Anita Dagenais: The commissioner has to explain that to the
Mr. Randall Garrison: The chair has no ability to overrule that.
October 15, 2012
Ms. Anita Dagenais: There is a duty to suspend if it's going to
actively interfere with a criminal investigation.
Mr. Randall Garrison: I didn't believe they had that obligation
Mr. Randall Garrison: So again, it's back to the commissioner.
The commissioner could then permanently suspend any investigation if the criminal matter were still open. The commissioner would
have to explain it but would still have the power to do that.
It also says that the Governor in Council may make regulations
prescribing categories of complaints not to be resolved informally.
Mr. Mark Potter: I think that's a theoretical possibility. The
criminal investigation could, for some reason, be suspended. The
commissioner might seek to continue to have the complaint
investigation suspended, but for that to happen we'd need—
Would that mean that the chair of the review commission could
make recommendations to the minister on things that should be
added to that list? Would that be the way they would have to
Mr. Randall Garrison: With respect, we've had things like the
Air India inquiry, which dragged on for 25 years. We've had things
that have dragged on for a very long time.
Ms. Anita Dagenais: Yes. We'll be moving with regulations that
will prescribe those kinds of complaints that couldn't be resolved
Mr. Mark Potter: Yes. I think there'd be a positive obligation on
the part of the commissioner to demonstrate very clearly how the
complaint investigation would interfere with the criminal investigation. And if the chair of the commission didn't agree with that, I
presume they could continue with their complaint investigation, and
this would be subject to judicial review.
Mr. Randall Garrison: They would be complaints such as sexual
Mr. Randall Garrison: Okay. That was my question.
The first section establishes this duty for the chair of the
complaints commission. It could proceed if he or she believes it's not
interfering with that investigation.
Mr. Mark Potter: Yes.
If the RCMP commissioner felt very strongly that the complaint
investigation should not proceed, and the chair of the commission
felt equally strongly that it should proceed, because the investigation
had been going on for 25 years, then the chair would proceed with
the complaint investigation. If the commissioner continued to feel
strongly, he could seek a judicial action to stop that complaint
I think there would be absolutely extraordinary circumstances for
that to occur.
Ms. Anita Dagenais: I might add that in our discussions with the
CPC, the current commission, they were open to maybe scoping out
the complaint and putting part of it in abeyance, on hold, and
continuing to pursue this element of the complaint.
Mr. Randall Garrison: You're reassuring me that they have the
ability to proceed with the parts they believe do not interfere. That
was my original question. If they do have that ability, I am reassured
in that area.
I just want to ask a question about the informal complaints. In the
statistics, we see that most of those things are resolved at the
informal level. It would seem to me that the bill makes some
improvements here. Correct me if I'm wrong.
It now requires the RCMP to produce written reports, which
would be lodged with the commission, on all informal complaints. I
don't believe that's the case now, is it?
Mr. Mark Potter: That's not the case now.
What is happening is that we're attempting to build a more robust
base of information on what exactly is happening to these
Ms. Anita Dagenais: Exactly.
As we do those regulations, we'll be consulting, and there will be
the ability to comment, etc.
Mr. Randall Garrison: I think those are some important
improvements in the bill with regard to the informal complaints.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr. Garrison.
We'll go to Mr. Payne, please, for five minutes.
Mr. LaVar Payne (Medicine Hat, CPC): Thank you, Chair.
Thanks to the witnesses for attending today.
I have some questions about the membership of these independent
I know there have been some ongoing discussions with the
various provinces. I'm wondering if you could tell us what you've
done in terms of a review of those independent bodies. Do we know
what kind of membership they have and the types of individuals who
might be on those bodies? Are they former RCMP? Are they police
officers? What kind of membership do they have?
● (1645)
Mr. Mark Potter: Thank you very much.
I think you're referring to the criminal civilian investigative
bodies, such as the ones in B.C., Alberta, and Nova Scotia.
Mr. LaVar Payne: Yes.
Mr. Mark Potter: It would be very useful for this committee to
hear directly from them.
I can speak a little bit about, for example, the one in B.C., which
was just started a month ago. They went through a public process of
soliciting individuals who could head that organization. They found
someone. He's an individual who has a lot of experience in that field.
He has worked in Denver and some other places in the United States
in a very similar role. He is a civilian with a legal background.
In staffing that organization, clearly they want individuals who
can conduct competent investigations. Often, in the current
environment, that means you're looking at former police officers.
However, I know that in B.C., through the justice training they're
doing, and in other jurisdictions, they're trying to train more civilians
to conduct investigations, so that when someone joins a body like
that they have no previous link whatsoever to a previous police
We're not there yet. But I think the goal is to ensure that there is
absolutely no potential perception of partiality with respect to these
individuals and any background connections they may have, even if
they're extremely remote or distant. That is the goal, but we're not
there yet in terms of training those individuals with the required
Mr. LaVar Payne: Thank you.
I also have some questions around harassment and the complaints.
Those were fairly general, and I would like to get a little more
specific information in terms of harassment, particularly around
What is the process? Is it a normal complaint? How is that
managed, if there are harassment complaints to the RCMP?
C/Supt Craig MacMillan: It depends on who the parties are. If
the respondent is an RCMP officer, regular member or a civilian
member, the RCMP Act has to be considered and applied in terms of
the conduct. If it's a public servant who is the respondent, it's
generally the Treasury Board policy that applies. If it's between two
public servants, it's clear that the Treasury Board policy applies.
That's one of the considerations—who is making the allegation
and who is responding to the allegation—in determining which
process you are going to be under.
If you are under the RCMP process, I am aware there is
dissatisfaction from the public service employee side. There is a
view that there should be more active participation and disclosure of
certain information as part of that investigative process. That's not
presently provided for under our code of conduct investigations for
regular and civilian members, and that causes some tension in that
I see quite a few of these in my current capacity. You try to work
with the spirit and intent of the Treasury Board policy, which is
trying to resolve this in the workplace, but under the statute it says
that if it appears there's a contravention of the code of conduct, that's
the process you're supposed to be using.
You're trying to balance the rights and interests and responsibilities of the parties involved, but it can become difficult if
somebody wants to use a code of conduct and insists that is how it
has to happen. It closes the door to dealing with the other complaint
more informally.
Now that's not to say there aren't attempts to mediate and resolve
issues, but there are these kinds of jurisdictional issues that arise in
the investigative process. You can go all the way through the
Treasury Board process and not be successful in resolving it, and
then you're triggering a code of conduct process. People will say,
“Okay, I gave a statement on that. What are you doing with that?
October 15, 2012
Where does that apply? I didn't know you were going to use that
It's a complexity that doesn't have to exist. The rule-making
authority that will be granted to the commissioner will allow him to
meet the needs of Treasury Board and respectful workplaces that are
trying to resolve conflicts, while at the same time making sure there's
some rigour in making sure the member's interests are protected and
dealt with properly.
Mr. LaVar Payne: What would happen in the case of John Doe
Public having a complaint of harassment?
The Chair: Very quickly.
C/Supt Craig MacMillan: They were the subject of harassment?
Mr. LaVar Payne: Yes.
C/Supt Craig MacMillan: That could be a public complaint. It
could be reviewed by the CRCC. That whole process would be
triggered, if they wanted to go that route and they were dissatisfied
with the investigation done by the RCMP.
Mr. LaVar Payne: Thank you, Chair.
The Chair: Thank you very much.
I want to thank all of you for appearing before our committee
today. Certainly I think you've been a good help. The questions have
been good and your answers have been good. We appreciate your
being here.
We will suspend for about one minute and ask our next guests to
take the stand. We look forward to their comments.
● (1645)
● (1650)
The Chair: I'll call the meeting back to order. We're going to
continue our consideration of Bill C-42.
In our final panel today we're going to hear from the Royal
Canadian Mounted Police staff relations representative program. We
have two members of the national executive here: Staff Sergeant Abe
Townsend and Staff Sergeant Mike Casault.
We invite you to make a brief opening statement, and then we'll
begin with seven-minute rounds again.
Mr. Townsend.
Staff Sergeant Abraham Townsend (National Executive, Staff
Relations Representative Program, Royal Canadian Mounted
Police): Good afternoon, Mr. Chair and ladies and gentlemen. We
thank you for the opportunity to appear before your committee today
on behalf of the 24,000 regular and civilian RCMP members who
serve across Canada and internationally, to provide their perspective
and input.
My name is Abe Townsend. I am in my 32nd year of service. With
me is Mike Casault, in his 23rd year of service. We are the national
executive of the staff relations representative program.
October 15, 2012
During my service I have served in four different provinces and
two territories. My duties have included general duty policing,
federal policing, and major crime investigation. My last uniformed
posting was as a detachment commander in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia,
at the rank of staff sergeant.
The present act contains the necessary authorities, but they have
not been utilized properly. Managers at all levels have not been held
accountable for their behaviour, action, and inaction. What will
change with new legislation?
I have been an elected representative since 2004. Mike has served
in the province of British Columbia, and was elected to represent our
members in 2008.
Unfortunately, I can speak of instances where internal processes of
the RCMP have failed individual members, and by extension the
force and the public we have sworn to serve. I can speak of a young
member, a single mother who endured almost a decade of
suspension, only to be reinstated, after appeal, by Commissioner
Paulson. I venture to say that this female member, under the
provisions of Bill C-42, with the stay provision removed from the
act, would no longer be employed with the RCMP. Where is the
The staff relations representative program is the non-union labour
relations program for all 24,000 members of the RCMP. The
program is authorized by law, and is the officially recognized
program of representation on all issues that affect the welfare and/or
dignity of RCMP members.
Our program is comprised of 42 representatives, democratically
elected by and from the membership in all territories and provinces.
The program has its own constitution, attached to this submission as
appendix A, and a formal agreement with the commissioner,
attached as appendix B.
I can speak of a female member who alleged sexual harassment
and faced roadblock after roadblock in seeking resolution.
We welcome the parliamentary hearings and your consideration of
our feedback in relation to Bill C-42. We were not consulted during
the drafting of Bill C-42. We look forward to providing this
committee with our members' perspectives as well as updates on the
outcomes of your work.
I can speak of the file of a member who was accused of sexual
assault. This member was investigated by the RCMP and criminally
charged. Only later was the truth revealed: there was no assault. In
the meantime, the RCMP member's career and personal life were in
ruins. Yes, there was a public apology by the attorney general of the
province involved, but it was too late. What would happen to this
member under Bill C-42?
While there are some aspects of Bill C-42 that we appreciate, we
have some fundamental areas of concern that we wish to express on
behalf of our members.
We have heard much criticism directed towards the present RCMP
Act and the need to change. Unfortunately, there has been no
reference to the report of Mr. Justice René Marin. His report was the
framework for the RCMP's current disciplinary and grievance
system. I have attached as appendix C the historical overview taken
from the RCMP Internet site. The emphasis was to have discipline
administered and dispensed at the lowest possible level. The 1988
act brought into play procedural fairness and natural justice.
Emphasis was on identifying weaknesses and unacceptable behaviours and taking appropriate remedial action—corrective action
versus punitive action. Grievance rights and processes were
introduced, as was the external review committee.
We believe some managers at all levels of the organization did not
do what the act encouraged and empowered them to do, and we find
ourselves here today.
Accountability is no stranger to our members. As peace and public
officers, they are accountable to the rule of law. Accountability
touches every aspect of our job. The vast majority of our members
meet and exceed these expectations.
Our members execute their duties realizing the dangerous and
conflict-ridden environments in which they serve.
We realize that internal and external review may be the byproduct
of honourable service.
Legislation must serve their unique interests as they serve the
● (1655)
There has to be protection for such instances. We have far too
many cases of harassment left to drift aimlessly, and we have
conduct investigations and decisions associated with those investigations that are delayed beyond reason—delayed by bureaucratic
obstructions and avoidance. It has been my experience that these
failures were not always due to faults with or restrictions imposed by
the present act.
My purpose is not to focus on failure. The vast majority of our
members will not come into conflict with the RCMP Act during their
career—the majority will serve with distinction without internal
challenge—but for the few who do, we must have legislation that
will serve in a fair and constructive manner. Our managers must be
trained to properly utilize the authorities available.
There has been much debate in relation to the RCMP culture.
Millions of taxpayer dollars have been spent to examine the RCMP
on many important issues. This is an investment in our national
police force. My concern is not with the investment, but with our
ability and desire to pay real attention to the recommendations of
those various reports: the Brown task force and the reform
implementation committee reports, the reports of Dr. Linda Duxbury,
or the RCMP Pay Council report on discipline. All are reports
having been made with the goal of advancing our organization.
As we focus on discipline, I am left to wonder: if the
recommendations of the pay council report on discipline had been
implemented when written in 2005, would the criticism and
frustration we now realize have been avoided?
Bill C-42 will see the commissioner given broad authority to make
rules. These rules must have accountability on outcome. We look
forward to working constructively in building these rules. Principles
of procedural fairness and natural justice must remain. The
legislation and the rules that follow cannot simply be about dealing
with the very few bad apples, but must nourish the entire orchard.
We must invest through learning and development.
I would like to draw specific attention to areas of the proposed
legislation. The first is grievance procedures and discipline appeals.
In Bill C-42, the commissioner makes the final decision on grievance
procedures and discipline appeals.
On behalf of our membership, we believe grievance procedures
and appeals for discipline cases should be expedient and impartial.
Further, the decision-maker should have expertise and broad
experience in labour relations. We have attached appendix D for
your consideration.
With regard to the code of conduct, we commend the authors of
this act for their proposed section 36.2. As a member, as a former
detachment commander, and as a representative, I believe that if we
adhere to these principles, we will find success.
With regard to the authority under the code of conduct for
investigation of warrants, our members have expressed fear and
apprehension in relation to this new authority provided under
proposed section 40.2 of Bill C-42. We urge your consideration:
remove or amend this section as suggested in our appendix E.
On conduct boards, under proposed section 43 of Bill C-42, we
believe conduct boards must be reserved for the most serious of
alleged breaches of the code of conduct. In these cases, legislation
should clearly articulate the implicit right to an oral hearing wherein
evidence can be examined and cross-examined.
In relation to the CRCC, the enhanced authorities provided to the
CRCC in Bill C-42 will only serve to reassure the Canadian public,
in their eyes, of our members' accountability.
We invite external review; however, we must express our concern
and objection in relation to the escalation of powers provided to the
CRCC in proposed section 45.65, specifically the authority to order a
statement during an investigation. While there are protections
offered, we believe these protections against self-incrimination do
not go far enough. We have similar concerns with proposed section
● (1700)
In concluding my opening statement, I wish to make one final
The “category of employee” issue has been with us for several
years. We would also like to see a time when all employed in the
RCMP are just that—employed under the authority of, and
accountable to, the RCMP Act.
Thank you.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr. Townsend.
We'll move into the first round of questioning.
October 15, 2012
Just before we do that, Mr. Townsend has referenced appendices
A, B, C, D, and E in his presentation. It was in one official language,
so we will get that translated....
It is in both?
The Clerk of the Committee (Mr. Andrew Bartholomew
Chaplin): I'll make copies of his appendix E—
The Chair: All right. It's just a matter....
We will get it to you. There were some things that I think we didn't
have a chance to circulate, so it will be circulated and you will get it.
Mr. Leef, please, for seven minutes.
Mr. Ryan Leef: Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you to both gentlemen for appearing today.
In previous committees I had the opportunity to ask the
commissioner specifically about training. We talked about the
RCMP being such a big organization, with diverse postings. Their
promotional boards and the way in which people are promoted....
They don't always come through a necessary stream of supervision
or leadership. There are a number of ways you could be promoted,
and a number of postings and positions in which you never had to
actually supervise anybody.
I personally was encouraged by the commissioner's remarks that
they see building in, and I think you mentioned it, as part of
promotion, as part of recruitment for selection for supervision, that
necessary training for detachment commanders in small rural
detachments, right up to supervisors who are promoted in large
municipal policing settings, to undertake the kind of training that
might lead to some of the concern you're highlighting.
Can you just build a little bit on your input there? You talked
about concern around that, and we'd like to hear about those
S/Sgt Abraham Townsend: During my 32 years, I've worked in
everything from a fly-in two-person detachment to a major
municipal detachment, and the demographics of our policing are
much different from what you see in your normal urban
environment. We have a detachment commander who is a corporal,
and that corporal could have seven to ten to twelve years' service.
They have a good handle on core policing skills. Administrative and
human resource management skills—that wasn't their bailiwick. All
of a sudden they're put in command of a unit. They have the
authority to discipline, under the current RCMP Act, up to and
including the highest levels of informal, or under a proposed new act
in relation to the conduct regime that has yet to be developed.
I think where we have failed in the current regime is that there was
never any training. I was a commander, as a corporal in a small
detachment, with nine years' service. I'll be honest: I knew very little,
if anything, about the conduct regime of the RCMP Act. To me, it
was just common sense.
October 15, 2012
As I progressed in my career, to the point where I was a staff
sergeant running a unit with 40 members, unfortunately—or
fortunately—I was able to dispense informal discipline, and I was
able to refer misconduct that I felt, in my heart of hearts, was way
beyond the scope of informal, up the chain of command to the
appropriate officer or the commanding officer. I had those fortunate
and unfortunate experiences as a commander. But there was never....
You learn as you go. You learn through osmosis.
If, under a new regime, we are going to push this down to the
most appropriate level, there has to be learning and development and
mentorship in relation to conduct authorities, giving commanders the
knowledge, skills, and ability to do what the legislation intends us to
greatest level of concern about the range within which we play with
discipline. Would that be accurate?
S/Sgt Abraham Townsend: In terms of numbers, we hear more
often from the front-line members, the lowest level of our
employment, at the constable level. Their apprehension is about
how this is going to be dispensed. As we move up the rank-andresponsibility ladder, we hear the concern, “We're going to get this
new authority, but we'll have no tools to go with it.”
The concern is very alive in the organization: “What will this look
like?” As you go further up the chain of command, people ask, “Will
I get the necessary knowledge, skills, and ability? Will I be trained to
the point where I can make a meaningful contribution to this?”
● (1710)
That was missing in the 1988 act. We can't go through that error
The Chair: Thank you very much.
● (1705)
Thank you, Mr. Leef.
Mr. Ryan Leef: So you'd be encouraged, then, by at least the
commissioner's comments that he recognizes that a necessary part of
fully integrating this act is the training down to the members who are
going to be asked to deal with this discipline.
We'll come back to Mr. Garrison, please.
S/Sgt Abraham Townsend: Yes.
Mr. Ryan Leef: You were present for the testimony we heard a
little bit earlier as well, and that I think is somewhat encouraging,
that they recognize right now that they can't nail down the details of
this, so we're not dealing with the core specifics; that will come
through consultation and come through development through the
members of the RCMP.
Is that encouraging to you? Is that hopeful? Is that something you
see your members being able to do, to contribute to the training and
development that the commissioner has certainly recognized is an
important aspect of laying out this bill properly?
S/Sgt Abraham Townsend: The members we represent will step
up to the opportunities, step up to the challenge. With anything
there's always a balance between your core business—what you have
to do day to day in policing—and these new responsibilities in
relation to human resource management. It's been my experience that
if the opportunity is there, as the commissioner described it would be
—and it would be a necessity, for this to work—then I'm encouraged
by that. We'll look forward to that level of accountability throughout
the organization.
For this to work, there has to be buy-in from top to bottom.
Mr. Ryan Leef: Right. You make a good point there, and as a
former front-line guy, I think the concern is always that this
discipline is going to be meted out at the lowest possible level to the
lowest possible level. This act does speak to accountability and
discipline that ranges right up to the highest levels of the RCMP.
I guess my vision would be that if a supervisor wasn't meting out
discipline in an appropriate fashion, then they themselves would be
accountable for discipline. If somebody failed to act upon that, they
would be accountable as well, so it wouldn't always fall down and be
applied to the front-line officers who, I'm guessing—and please tell
me—would be the people you're hearing most from as those with the
Mr. Randall Garrison: Thank you very much.
Your appearance today is I think very valuable to us. One of the
statements you made in your presentation is actually quite shocking
to me, and I just want to reconfirm that I heard correctly, since we
don't have a written copy. I believe you said that the organization
you represent was not consulted in any way in the preparation of this
S/Sgt Abraham Townsend: We were not consulted on Bill C-42.
Mr. Randall Garrison: Has there been any consultation with you
since its introduction?
S/Sgt Abraham Townsend: Since the introduction of the bill,
there has been.
In fact, as recently as Friday of last week, Superintendent O'Rielly
and Chief MacMillan presented to our caucus of 42. We have caucus
meetings going on right now. Prior to that, shortly after the bill was
introduced, we met with Superintendent O'Rielly and scoped out a
process and a pattern of consultation as we look forward to new
There was no consultation on Bill C-42, but we all recognize that
once the bill is out in the public venue, there will be regulations,
rules, and policies that will actually make this bill operational. As
recently as this morning we had discussions with the commissioner,
and he again committed to the consultation. In fact, he said this won't
work unless we work together.
Mr. Randall Garrison: I'm glad to hear that looking forward
there is consultation. It seems to me that it leaves a little gap here,
because you brought some suggestions to us of improvements that
need to be made in the bill itself. There have been no discussions like
that with you. It's taking the bill for granted and doing consultations
moving forward from, let's say, royal assent. They're talking about
developing things with you but still not discussing the bill with you.
S/Sgt Abraham Townsend: We believe it's very important that
the bill is now with this body.
Mr. Randall Garrison: Okay. We'll take it very seriously.
I thought one of the other statements you made was very
interesting, because it was about something I've run across before in
my experience with policing. You said that the rank and file have an
interest in good external review.
S/Sgt Abraham Townsend: Yes.
Mr. Randall Garrison: We've had all the controversy over sexual
harassment in the RCMP. Would it be fair to say that the rank-andfile members have that same interest in coming up with an effective
policy for dealing with sexual harassment? Is that something you
hear from them?
S/Sgt Abraham Townsend: Yes.
As a representative who has represented direct clients for several
years, and from speaking with my colleagues who are representatives.... Our current harassment prevention investigative's
been a failure since it was authored some nine years ago. There has
been nobody who is satisfied with living through the process as an
alleged victim of harassment or as an alleged accused of harassing....
The process was terribly, terribly broken.
Mr. Randall Garrison: Have you been involved in any reviews
of the process or asked for your input on the process?
S/Sgt Abraham Townsend: Our caucus has made submissions
time and time again in relation to the process: criticism of the
process, suggested amendment of the process.... For me, this goes
back to...I believe the first working group that I personally attended
was six months after the policy was introduced—a meeting in
Winnipeg. I said, this is not going to work for our members because
there is the absence of participation without prejudice, if I can put it
this way. They were worried about it. They said, if I participate and
look for a resolve, then the gorilla is going to come into the room
with the code of conduct and whack me, so I'm just going to sit back
and protect my interests.
Now, that wasn't always the case, but that was always the elephant
in the room. How do we deal with that? There was a collision of two
policies: ours in relation to the code of conduct and Treasury Board's
in relation to resolution.
Hopefully we will be able to sit down once there is royal assent
and the commissioner decides to build—and he will have to build—
a policy around harassment. In our organizational response to it,
we'll be able to sit down and develop something that's meaningful
given the uniqueness of our organization and the context of the
broader public service. One thing that we'll take into consideration is
our organizational needs. That would include training: awareness
training—a meaningful awareness training program.
We live in an environment in policing where there are dark
moments that you don't necessarily see in other clinical environments. There has to be an awareness created of harassment, of the
sensitivities of others. That's all something positive that we look
forward to, because we haven't been satisfied with what was there in
the past.
● (1715)
Mr. Randall Garrison: In the materials that didn't get circulated
today, is there any material on sexual harassment and your
experience with it that we might have the benefit of?
October 15, 2012
S/Sgt Abraham Townsend: There is no material, but if it's the
will of the committee, we can make a separate submission in that
Mr. Randall Garrison: If you feel comfortable doing that, I think
the committee would benefit from hearing what you have to say
about that process, as the representatives.
S/Sgt Abraham Townsend: If that's....
The Chair: Thank you.
Thank you, Mr. Garrison.
We'll move back to Mr. Hawn, please.
Hon. Laurie Hawn: Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thanks to the witnesses.
Just carrying on from that, we've done a little bit of looking back,
but now I think we need to look forward. Are you comfortable with
the prospect of the consultation in the follow-on? I mean, it's going
to get passed in some form, and obviously, as we've heard before,
there's going to be some follow-on activity of consultation. Are you
satisfied or encouraged by that?
Also, you talked about tools. Can you give us an idea of some
examples of specific tools that you're talking about to make it work?
S/Sgt Abraham Townsend: I am satisfied that there will be
meaningful consultation. Nothing that has taken place since the bill
was tabled would indicate otherwise. At the end of the day, the proof
would be in the pudding, but so far I base a lot of what I do on
goodwill and the honest and spoken word.
As for the development of the tools that will operationalize this
entire act, it will be the rules around our probationary members, the
rules around conduct, the rules around learning requirements, and
the rules around discharge requirements, like loss of basic
requirements. All these things have yet to be developed. We went
through the list. There were 16 broad areas of development that we're
looking forward to meaningful consultation on to make this bill
operational within our working environment.
Hon. Laurie Hawn: You asked a rhetorical question. You talked
about a couple of cases, and you talked about the sexual assault that
dragged on for years—the guy was ruined, and so on.
You asked what would have happened under Bill C-42. Let me
ask what you think would have happened under Bill C-42.
S/Sgt Abraham Townsend: My concern in that regard—and I
think I made reference to a similar concern when I talked about the
female member who was suspended for 10 years—is that under the
current act, the board's decision, the appeal process through the
external review committee, and then the final decision of the
commissioner are all internal processes. The current act serves to
stay the board's decision to allow the appeal to take place, and then
the commissioner makes a final decision.
Under the current act, that member does stay on the books, and I
think you heard the commissioner mention something along the lines
that somebody was on the books for seven years and how does that
benefit Canadians.
October 15, 2012
Hon. Laurie Hawn: I'm asking you what would have happened
under Bill C-42.
S/Sgt Abraham Townsend: Under Bill C-42, that stay provision
is eliminated, so that person would have to fight their appeal as an
outsider. They would no longer be a member of the force, based on
the first decision, and they would have to fight their appeal from the
outside. The appeal is an internal process and the RCMP controls the
timelines of the appeal.
I listened to Chief MacMillan talk about these timelines—a year to
do an investigation, two years for the ERC—and I was thinking that
once the allegation is made, the member controls none of these
timelines. They're all internal to the RCMP.
● (1720)
Hon. Laurie Hawn: You are suggesting that nothing would
effectively change for the member under Bill C-42.
S/Sgt Abraham Townsend: Under Bill C-42, with the stay
provision gone, the member would be an outsider.
Hon. Laurie Hawn: I understand.
S/Sgt Abraham Townsend: They'd be out of the force, and all the
internal appeal process would happen, and meanwhile....
We take young Canadian men and women and move them from
one end of the country to the other. They have one core skill, and
that's in policing. They can't go to the next town and say, “Well, I'm
going to get a job as a policeman here and await my appeal.” It's
huge, in our eyes.
I hope we can front-load the process so that the investigation
doesn't take a year and the conduct authority doesn't take another
year. Front-load the process, front-load the appeal, because it serves
nobody's interest to leave somebody dangling, whether they're paid
or unpaid, for an excessive length of time.
Hon. Laurie Hawn: What we heard earlier is that the aim of this
is to in fact shorten that process.
S/Sgt Abraham Townsend: If they front-load the process, then I
believe there's no reason that the stay provision couldn't remain.
They've said here that they want to get it done as quickly and as
fairly and as judiciously as possible.
Front-load the process; keep the stay provision, given that we're
taking young Canadian men and women and putting them into
policing environments from coast to coast to coast. They will get to
the end of the road of internal processes without being an outsider.
Staff Sergeant Michael Casault (National Executive, Staff
Relations Representative Program, Royal Canadian Mounted
Police): If I could add to that, I think that's part of the scenario with
the 1988 act: the process was never looked at as what we have today.
But it has been abused. I'm not saying there were built-in delays, but
there were no expedited measures or timelines, and we're now stuck
with a seven-year process.
With regard to this act, if we stay the person's wages and stuff, we
may not have that ability to say, yes, today it's going to be two years
or two months; in 10 years, it might be delayed to seven years again.
There have to be some timelines, as Abe said, built into the
process, so that it's effective and timely.
Hon. Laurie Hawn: Okay.
I'd give you half a minute, Rick, but you probably couldn't do
much with it, so I'll take the half a minute and ask the question that
was stated earlier—if I'm remembering it correctly. Under Bill C-42,
the feeling was that 98% of the grievance cases and so on would be
dealt with more quickly.
Would you share that assessment?
S/Sgt Abraham Townsend: Under Bill C-42, they anticipate that
when the regulation is finally built they'll be able to deal with 98% of
the grievances. I won't disagree with that.
Our current grievance system has an early resolution phase that
encourages alternative dispute resolution. Unfortunately, it only
encourages that; it doesn't mandate it. We have paid little attention to
alternative dispute resolution. That said, we have attained some
really huge and good results, timeline-wise, on grievances under
what we have presently.
Under Bill C-42, I believe we'll work at building a regulation that
will mandate alternative dispute resolutions and facilitate a reasonable answer that will improve on what we have now.
The Chair: Thank you very much.
For the final questioning of the day, we will go to Madame StDenis.
Ms. Lise St-Denis: You ended by referring to categories of staff.
Could you tell us a bit more about that? You did not seem to be in
favour of them, but you did not say much about it.
S/Sgt Abraham Townsend: In the RCMP, in today's world, there
are three categories of employees: public servants, civilian members
hired under the RCMP Act, and regular members hired under the
RCMP Act. It is our position that an employee of the RCMP is
responsible for policing in the broadest context. Our position is that
all employed by the RCMP would be employed under and
accountable to the RCMP Act. The category of employee issue has
been divisive within our organization, our different categories. If we
had all of our employees responsible and accountable to the RCMP
Act, and employed given the uniqueness of the service we provide
Canadians, I believe it would take our organization to a place of
contentment on the category issue.
● (1725)
Ms. Lise St-Denis: I would like to get back to the grievance
process. You did not seem to support decisions being made by the
commissioner. You seemed not to want to have the commissioner
making the ultimate decisions on grievance-related matters. Can you
expand on that?
S/Sgt Abraham Townsend: Under the current RCMP Act and
under Bill C-42, the commissioner is the final decision-maker. It has
always been a frustration for our members that the external review
committee only makes recommendations. Our members quite
honestly have concern with that much power in one office. It has
been the feedback from our members that they see that power being
dispersed more broadly into an external board that would be able to
make compelling recommendations as opposed to simple recommendations.
The challenge beyond the commissioner is Federal Court, judicial
review. While individuals have the ability to do that, it's a limited
ability. Quite honestly, in my opinion, it's not a good way to operate
a human resource aspect of any organization. If you rely on judicial
review as your only external point of resolution, it's a difficult way to
get along as people within an organization. If in fact the legislation,
Bill C-42, is amended in such a way so that some of the power the
commissioner has, which is uniquely his, is dispersed to a board that
is focused and unique to the RCMP, it may go a long way to serve
the best interests of the organization, of Canadian people, and of the
Ms. Lise St-Denis: Thank you.
The Chair: Thank you, Madame St-Denis. You still have two or
three minutes, if you have another question. We will take it right to
the end. Otherwise, we will come back to the NDP.
Ms. Lise St-Denis: I am done.
The Chair: Mr. Garrison, you don't have any?
Madame Doré Lefebvre, for one minute.
Ms. Rosane Doré Lefebvre: Thank you very much for your
attendance here today. It is good to hear your comments, those of
members on Bill C-42 and potential impacts.
You said that under current legislation, it was very difficult to
manage sexual harassment issues within the RCMP. What changes
would you bring to this bill to make it easier to manage the situation?
Can we get there through legislation? Is the solution not rather an
internal culture change within the RCMP?
The Chair: Thank you, Madame Doré Lefebvre.
October 15, 2012
S/Sgt Abraham Townsend: With regard to the management of
workplace conflict, you referred to sexual harassment, but be it
same-gender harassment or simple bullying, it's unacceptable
behaviour. One instance of it is one too many.
To manage it, in the first instance, would be to create a learning
culture within the organization, with a positive knowledge base and
an awareness. That would be the first step. If that can be built into
the harassment awareness and the policy that will follow this
legislation, it would go a long way toward creating the awareness
that would serve to move our culture—and I'll use the word “culture”
because that's what's commonly used—in a positive direction:
managers well equipped with the knowledge, skills, and ability to
recognize potentially harassing or insensitive behaviour and with the
ability and the awareness to put a stop to it in the very first instance,
as opposed to avoidance or delay or inaction. Inaction, in that regard,
probably does as much harm as action. The issue must be dealt with
up front.
You have to create that awareness, and you have to teach people to
create learning opportunities so that they will actually take the
management tools that they already have, that they're already
empowered with, and use them.
● (1730)
The Chair: Thank you.
I say that sincerely. We want to thank all those who have appeared
on both panels today. We have some from the RCMP who want to
see a better bill, a better way of dealing with complaints, and they
believe they have it, but they also say it may be a work in progress.
From your aspect, you say, yes, we want to see the RCMP stronger,
but we want to make sure that all our members are protected and
aware and that the culture changes. Everyone here, including the
committee, wants to see a piece of legislation that will accomplish
what we want, and I think some of the suggestions you have made
are very good.
In the process here today, a number of people have been asked to
submit more, if they think of things that perhaps they wish they had
said or that they could have said differently. Please feel free to make
that presentation and even just e-mail it to our committee. We would
love to hear it, as well as the other group earlier.
Thank you for being here today as witnesses to the committee.
Thank you, committee members.
We are now adjourned.
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