Ex-Mountie Rob Creasser knows how bad the RCMP is as a workplace. He got sick because of it. In 2010, following almost three years of medical leave after he was diagnosed with depression, the Kamloops man quit the national police force.
It doesn’t surprise him that allegations of persecution, including accounts of sexual harassment of female officers such as Cpl. Catherine Galliford, are in the news.
“We have harassments—not just sexual harassment but harassment in general—that have not been dealt with in years,” Creasser told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview from Kamloops.
The ex-constable doesn’t expect conditions to improve much. He said that unless RCMP members are represented by a union, many will continue to suffer from unchecked workplace mistreatment.
It’s a situation that Creasser is helping to change. He is currently a spokesperson for the Mounted Police Professional Association of Canada, a group of frontline officers fighting for the right to collective bargaining in the federal force.
The MPPAC is a merger between two Mountie organizations, the B.C. Mounted Police Professional Association and the Mounted Police Association of Ontario. In 2009, the two groups won a charter challenge before the Ontario Superior Court against RCMP regulations that prevent them from forming a union. The federal government appealed the decision.
According to Creasser, the association expects a ruling from the Ontario Court of Appeal sometime in the spring.
“Overall, it’s dysfunctional,” Creasser said about the RCMP as a workplace. “At times, toxic.”
The RCMP national headquarters in Ottawa refused a Straight request for an interview regarding the demand for a union. Spokesperson Cpl. David Falls said the organization will not comment on a matter that is pending before the courts.
Workplace problems have been highlighted in reports such as the one prepared by David Brown in 2007. A former head of the Ontario Securities Commission, Brown called for sweeping organizational and cultural changes in the force.
That same year saw the release of another study regarding the force. In that paper, organizational expert and author Linda Duxbury stated that the current RCMP culture does not support change.
As a psychologist many police officers consult, Mike Webster has heard a lot of stories.
In a phone interview, he said RCMP members don’t have the same avenue that municipal police officers have for their grievances, as the latter are represented by unions.
“Police people are hard-driving problem solvers,” Webster noted. “And sometimes they step on each other’s toes, and these conflicts arise naturally. But in the municipal-police world, there’s a process to deal with them. In the RCMP, there’s no process. And these issues just go on and on and on.”
Creasser explained that a union would also allow members to negotiate for better police resources to improve the RCMP’s service to the public. These include adequate manpower and equipment.
“The model that we use to determine how many people should be policing, say, in Kamloops is at least 20 years out-of-date,” he said. “We don’t actually have the time to be actually proactive in our communities to try and prevent crime.”
It’s a concern that Creasser knows well. In 2006, he was slapped with a gag order by his superiors. They wanted to keep him from raising questions about whether or not the force provided adequate protection to the four Mounties who were gunned down in a notorious shooting incident in Mayerthorpe, Alberta, in 2005.
It was downhill for his career from that point on, Creasser said. He simply got tired of fighting. He became depressed.
Creasser is certain that many active officers are having the same problems he encountered and getting sick because of it. “I can guarantee it,” he said.