Report into ‘shocking’ RCMP misogyny says reform may be impossible

A group of Canadian women is calling for an end to misogyny within the RCMP. A 2020 report found a "shocking" level of violence & sexual assault within the force, including over 130 Mounties who disclosed 'penetrative' sex assault.

A Canadian women’s advocacy group says the RCMP needs serious fixing when it comes to the way the police force treats women. But it’s something they admit may not be possible.

The Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action (FAFIA) says the many reports into RCMP misogyny don’t just document harm against the public, but against fellow Mounties as well.

FAFIA released a new report this week entitled “The Toxic Culture of the RCMP: Misogyny, Racism, and Violence against Women in Canada’s National Police Force.”

It details “shocking” systemic discrimination and violence against women by the RCMP.

“The civilian review and complaints commission, which accepts and investigates complaints against the RCMP, is not an independent mechanism, as complaints against the RCMP are mainly investigated by the RCMP itself,” said Shivangi Misra, one of the report’s co-authors.

2020 report detailed violence and sex assault

A 2020 document – the Bastarache report – found misogyny and homophobia pervades all RCMP operations.

Justice Bastarache found extensive sexual harassment within the force, and 131 cases of outright officer-on-officer rape.

Bastarache’s work makes up just a portion of “The Toxic Culture of the RCMP.”

“If female RCMP officers are not safe from sexual assault by male officers, it should be no surprise marginalized Indigenous women and girls are not safe either,” said Pam Palmater, the chair for Indigenous Governance at the Toronto Metropolitan University.

RELATED: Former officers speak out on harassment within the ranks (June 2021)

FAFIA’s paper also references work from Human Rights Watch, the legal services board of Nunavut, and the RCMP’s own complaints commission, in detailing how women were treated by Mounties.

“We support the many calls for a truly independent review of the RCMP, and support for women,” said Palmater. “We must not allow one more rape of another woman in Canada by the RCMP.”


Public safety minister says ‘no place for misogyny’

In a statement to CityNews, Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said, in part: “There is absolutely no place for misogyny, harassment or violence within the RCMP or in Canadian society.

“For too long, there has been a culture within the RCMP that is permissive of systemic inequities and has led to misogyny, discrimination, harassment and workplace violence.

“Every woman has the right to work in an environment that is safe, and where she is safe to report harassment, discrimination or violence.”

Mendicino also noted the federal government is creating an independent centre for harassment resolution, and working on strengthening the RCMP’s management advisory board.

“Finally, we are ensuring that the RCMP’s workforce is more reflective of the diversity of the our country, including Racialized Canadians, LGBTQ2+ folks and Indigenous Peoples,” continued the statement.

“These reforms will help to build a culture of respect, accountability and inclusion within the RCMP.”

Paper says RCMP reform could be impossible

The Feminist Alliance’s report on RCMP misogyny and racism calls for reform, if possible.

Co-author Shelagh Day says that language acknowledges the possibility that reform is impossible –- that a few rotten apples have spoiled the whole bunch.

“The phrase is to leave open the possibility of what would be the most effective reform here in order to accomplish the goal of achieving a police force that actually works for, and can protect women in the country,” said Day.

—With files from Xiaoli Li

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