Speeches | Speech at Second Reading of Bill C-42 (Enhancing Royal Canadian Mounted Police Accountability Act)

16 April 2013

Hon. Grant Mitchell: Honourable senators, I am privileged to have been chosen by my party's leadership to act as critic for this bill. However, that is not the most accurate term to describe my reaction and my position on this bill.

I am not exactly in favour of it, but I am not exactly against it. On balance, I am probably reasonably happy with it, to the extent that it does something. However, I want to make the point throughout my comments that it simply does not do enough and that it misses a very important point in the broader context in which this bill should be placed and considered.

I know Senator Lang has worked very hard on this. I congratulate him. I know he is probably pretty happy that I am standing here talking about it right now, and I am pleased to be doing that.

I will speak about two elements. The first is that I will analyze what the bill proposes to do. I will suggest there are some good things about it and there are some weaknesses, in that it could do more even than it proposes to do.

The second feature of my presentation will be to put this in that context I mentioned moments ago. This bill is one tool to address a broad cultural issue that faces the RCMP, but it is not sufficient and should not be construed as the panacea to solve the problems that we are all very aware of and that the committee is right now investigating via an in-depth study.

To his credit, the bill is really in response to the request of Commissioner Paulson. He seeks to have the power to structure and manage the RCMP in a modern way. He says he has been burdened by a structure that does not and has not kept up with the demands of modern policing. More specifically, or perhaps in a more colloquial fashion, Commissioner Paulson says he requires the power to get rid of the bad apples. There are a number of features of this bill that might respond to that, that will respond to some other concerns and that will help.

First, the bill is designed to enhance, to some extent, public review of what the RCMP does, although that enhancement is still very limited. It certainly does not meet the test that was established in the recommendations by a number of inquiries, including those done by Justice O'Connor, Mr. Brown and many others, in fact.

Currently, there is a review board that is called the CPC, which is the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP. It is a civilian commission, by and large, that undertakes to review public complaints from at least a quasi, if not completely, objective point of view. It has been limited in its ability to perform that function perhaps as aggressively, broadly or intensely as some would hope.

There has been a reaction to that in this bill to create a new body that has broader powers, which is called the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP. It will have powers, and I think these are all new. It will have powers to call witnesses and to subpoena them. It will have powers to request information from the Commissioner of the RCMP. It will have the power to initiate special inquiries at its own initiative. It will have to tell the minister it wants to do that, but it will still have that power.

This initiative is an effort to meet the concern that there is no independent civilian review of the RCMP, an initiative and a feature of almost every major police force across the country today. If one wants to have a modern police force, it is almost inevitable, given the experience of major police forces across the country, that one must have a fully functioning civilian oversight board. I will get into some of the differences between what the CRCC proposes to do and what a civilian board that would provide more broad oversight — as is the case in these other police forces — would look like.

Even at that, the CRCC is limited in the powers it has been given. For example, while it can ask and demand information relative to its inquiry or investigation from the commissioner, the commissioner can simply shut that down with a letter saying that he does not agree this information is appropriate, that it should be privileged information, and that it will therefore not be made available to the CRCC.

In defence of that problem, there are those who will say that, "yes, but this can be referred to a third party, the third party can adjudicate, and then the two sides — the commission and the commissioner — can go back and think about that adjudication and perhaps that will change things." There is no final appeal in that and, in fact, it is very cumbersome.

What is more interesting is that it could be made to be commensurate with the function and the powers of the Security Intelligence Review Committee, SIRC, which has oversight over CSIS. That board is very much a model that would work extremely well in the RCMP's case. It does not have these limitations. The members of SIRC are given security clearance. The only information they are not able to get is information that is cabinet confidential or that has solicitor/client privilege. They have more power and are open to any range of information. Beyond that, they are given clearance and they are entrusted with it. There has never been a problem with that and it has functioned extremely well.

Why, I would ask, would we limit that from the CRCC, which has every bit as important a role, perhaps an even bigger hill to climb and a cultural issue to solve? Limiting its power is almost like an approach of avoidance. It is almost as if the government and the commissioner want to fix the problem, but they draw back in the face of that extra step, the extra force and intensity needed to really fix it. This is not an easy problem to fix.

Whereas the CRCC can initiate an investigation at its own devices, its own accord, the commissioner can halt that investigation with a letter saying this is encroaching on some kind of investigation that is being done, perhaps by the RCMP, into a matter that is related. It gives power back to the commissioner, reduces the power of the CRCC; even as it gives that power, it takes that power away. That seems to be unnecessary and, in fact, counterproductive.

It is also true that while the act will provide for the CRCC to do joint investigations with provincial police authorities — that is very important because in many cases the RCMP does provincial policing or works in provinces that have their own police forces — there will be cases where an issue could arise that needs investigation which concerns the RCMP and a provincial police force. That is good. Where it falls down is that there is no provision for the CRCC to be involved with joint investigations into national security issues that may arise. There is no provision or structure within which it could conduct a joint investigation with CSIS or CSE, for example. That is a limiting feature which could be easily remedied and it would allow for greater flexibility and effectiveness in this regard.

Honourable senators, the real failure of this feature of the bill is that it only pays lip service, if I could be so aggressive, to the idea of a real civilian oversight board. The real civilian oversight board, for example, in my city of Edmonton, which functions extremely well and has for a long time, has had excellent relationships with the police chief and the police force. It has far broader powers that allow for a greater objectivity and a public look. There is nothing like the kind of accountability and transparency that it has been able to provide. Not only do they have responsibility for supervising investigations of problems or complaints with respect to the police force — that would be about as much as the CRCC has — but, in addition, they have direct authority over working with the police chief and approving each annual policing plan for the City of Edmonton.

That is not just lip service, because they also have final authority and a role to play with the police chief in developing the budget for implementing that plan. People I have spoken to there have said that, generally speaking, the chief of police will end up getting 80 to 90 per cent of whatever plan and budget he or she has worked out. However, consistently this civilian oversight body has had a role in determining the last 10, 15 or 20 per cent of how that plan should work. Therefore, it also provides some real advantage to the police force and police chief.

For example, political concerns related to councilors and mayors do not go to the police chief; they go to the civilian oversight body, the Edmonton Police Commission. The police commission handles those kinds of inquiries and complaints from the public as well. They are able to provide objectivity and a buffer, and supervise the complaints process.

The commission has all but the final word in hiring the chief of police. Ultimately, that goes to the city council, but the fact of the matter is they play a huge role in hiring the chief of police. They also have to authorize the hiring of senior police officers under the chief of police at the recommendation of the chief of police. If one compares that role to the one that is considered and accommodated in this bill for the CRCC, one will see there is a great difference.

To the extent that the government, and perhaps the commissioners, had a say in this is perhaps to say we are getting oversight. However, we are not getting the kind of public oversight with the CRCC — although it may be augmented to some extent — that I believe makes a fundamental difference in the way these police forces across the country, such as the Edmonton Police Service, have been structured. This bill fails in that regard to the detriment of making true progress in changing the culture, enhancing and augmenting the culture of the RCMP and the way it needs to be done.

The second major area that the bill addresses is special investigations. There is always attention. If an RCMP officer encounters a serious incident or is involved in a serious incident, injury or death caused, perhaps, by an RCMP officer, there is always a suspicion if the RCMP were to investigate its own. This has been addressed in this bill in a pretty effective way. There may be just one slight problem with it.

First, there is a hierarchy in the form of a checklist of who will do the investigation. In provinces like Alberta, where there is a provincial-based special investigations board, that board would do the investigation of a serious incident in the RCMP; that would be the first choice.

In a province where that is not available, then the next choice would be a police force other than the RCMP. Apparently, only in those cases where there is an isolated detachment or there is not an easily accessible "other police force," the RCMP would conduct their own investigation. Some have concerns with that. I believe that that will be ameliorated to some extent because the minister has the power to appoint a third party and observer in that process, but it is not, perhaps, as objective as we might like, given the pressures and the public concern with the RCMP at this time.

The third area that this addresses is grievances, internal problems of an RCMP member that a civilian or a full member non-civilian member will have. There have been real problems in that grievance process. For one thing, they have been awfully slow. Some have taken as long as five or ten years. They have been cumbersome, even the minutest problem. One example that is used is a $10 claim that was turned down. I think it took years and years to get through the process and to be addressed.

There is also the problem of real objectivity, which has been borne out greatly by recent concerns with sexual harassment and bullying in the RCMP, and that is that the review and grievance process is not outside the chain of command. The officers assigned to assist a person with a grievance or a concern are perhaps moved to the right, as our colleague Senator Dallaire would say. To some extent, they are still in the chain of command and their career advancement is still very much dependent upon their position in that chain of command.

That process has two problems. One, it may be that the process is not as objective as it might be. I am not saying that is the case, but there are people who feel that is the case. Second, many people I have spoken with say they are very afraid to grieve in that process because they do not have an objectivity and they do not necessarily feel that they get the kind of representation that they might get from a more objective process.

That brings me, honourable senators, to the issue of a union. Unions are controversial in this Senate and in many areas of debate in the country, but most of the major police forces across the country have a union.

This is a special case. I think all of us agree that, for example, in the most extreme cases where an RCMP member might have to be dismissed — and that has hardly ever happened for some of the infractions and code of conduct infractions that we have seen — we would want to know that they are being protected in their interests, that that individual RCMP officer is being protected fully and adequately in an objective sense. We can only imagine what it is like to get into some of these serious instances where you are in the heat of the moment, your life is in danger, you see something that might look like a gun in someone's hand and you shoot, and it is injury or death. When we step back and say that it looks overly aggressive, we were not there and we do not know what it is like to be an RCMP officer in that situation.

I think Canadians and RCMP members want to know that every last step has been taken from a powerful, objective point of view to make sure they have been treated fairly and justly before a decision is made to dismiss. Tribunals and appeal processes will be set up, but even so, the process may not be all that much unlike the tribunals we already have in the RCMP, and there is some question about how powerful and objective they could be.

Ultimately, the commissioner got his most aggressive demand or evident demand, and that was the power to fire. Although there are some restrictions on that power specifically — there is an appeal process — he has the authority to delegate that power to fire to lower echelon officers and supervisors in the RCMP command structure. That is not, of course, all bad. It has been noted over and over again that of the code of conduct cases in any given period of time in the RCMP, even those that have been of a criminal nature and seen to be of a criminal nature, almost no one is fired.

That brings me to the second point in my presentation, and that is that this bill will help. It will help with some public oversight, but not enough. It will help to some extent with the grievance process to make it quicker, but elements of it will be weak. It will help to some extent to enable special investigations; I think it is quite strong there, but it could be tweaked a bit. It will help with the power to fire, and perhaps the commissioner will now be able to get rid of those bad apples.

The problem with this bill is that it really misses the point. Every single step in this bill, practically, is a step that deals with a problem after it has occurred. A grievance is after a problem or alleged problem has occurred. You fire someone after a problem has occurred. You do a special investigation into a serious incident after the incident has occurred. You do a public complaints review after someone from the public, or in this case, even from the RCMP, has complained that something has occurred or allegedly occurred. It begs the very question of how a culture has to be changed so they do not occur in the first place.

There are those who will say it is not that much different from other police forces, and we saw stats which I thought are very weak. In fact, the CPC chair, Mr. McPhail, proposed that only 26 cases out of the 780 he reviewed were actually code of conduct or criminal or sexual harassment cases.

A number of things happened. First, many people simply will not bring forth a case because they know what happens to the people who do. There has been ample evidence and concern, at least, of allegations of bullying and further harassment, promotion, career destruction and so on. Many people do not come forward.

When they do come forward, some of these cases are sidelined — some in a good way in that they are mediated and settled — but they never get to the point where they are actually reported. They only get reported once the paperwork starts. Mr. McPhail, who got all his evidence and all the files from the RCMP, had no audit powers. I am not saying the RCMP did not give him everything he thought he could get, but maybe they were not clear on what he should have had.

However, let us contrast that to the breadth of the problem evident in the case of the special review that, to his credit, Deputy Commissioner Callens did in B.C., where civilian member Simmie Smith was called upon to do a study. Four hundred and sixty-two people came forward to talk about bullying. That is just in British Columbia. Only five of those were men because very quickly they realized that the women were reluctant to share their concerns, some of them deeply personal, often of a sexual nature, in the presence of men. There was evidence of bullying against men as well. That says something about the breadth and depth of the problem.

Not only that, but we have not seen the same kind of assessment in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario or in any of the Atlantic provinces. It is not enough to say simply, "We are as good as any other police force." It would not be enough to say that anyway. There should be zero tolerance for this, and we should be driving to zero to get that, and there should never be any suggestion that we would relinquish that objective.

I believe that there is ample evidence of a broad-based cultural problem. These problems occur long before this bill will ever kick in, and it is always kicking in after the fact. This begs the very question of the issue of how to change a culture.

There are some red flags that indicate that it is not clearly understood that that would be required in the powers to understand and fix that problem. There are many of them, f or example the fact that this is all after the fact but somehow is being construed as the panacea solution. It is not; it is one tool in the tool box.

Not only that, but there is really nothing to say in this bill that it will not actually make the problem worse. If it is that the power to fire will be augmented and will be pushed down to officers and NCOs with supervisory responsibility what is to say the harassers will not just have more power to fire the ones complaining about being harassed? I am not saying by any means that every RCMP member falls into this category; it is probably a relatively small group of people.

Not only that, but let me go back, and I know it is a sore point for all of us, to the case of Sergeant Donald Ray, and I use his name because it was made public in a tribunal that released publicly. He was found by a three-person tribunal to have exposed himself, among other things, in the RCMP offices. The tribunal considered whether to fire him and decided not to because they received some interesting letters from friends who had worked with them who said he was a good guy. He was docked, I think, 10 days' pay, reduced one rank — still a sergeant — and sent to British Columbia, where one can ski, play golf and swim all on the same day.

There were three RCMP officers on that tribunal. There is nothing to say, if I am not mistaken, that those three RCMP officers could not be on one of the conduct appeal boards that will review dismissals under this new process.

My concern is that this bill actually may just beg the very question of how to change a culture that needs changing.

I knew the Chief of Police of the Edmonton Police Service which was, when he started, called the Edmonton City Police Force, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Doug McNally, a remarkable, fine police officer and a fine person. He set about to change the culture from a forced, militaristic kind of police force to a service, a walking-the-beat kind of police force: a huge cultural change. He told me that he personally had hundreds upon hundreds of meetings, face to face, one on one, two or three people, bigger meetings as well, over a long period of time, because he had to make that case and drive that case to change the culture.

I do not know whether this is entirely true or whether it is all that has been done; I am sure it is not. In this case, six videos were sent out and people were to sit down and watch the video. That is not how it works. To change a culture is a huge effort. The case of Doug McNally is instructive.

We had representatives of the RCMP before the committee. The RCMP will argue they are putting in a respectful workplace program, which is a great initiative. A couple of things are red flags to me. I asked the senior person of human resources what the budget was. They did not know what the budget was. If it is top of mind and important, one would know what the budget is.

It became apparent that there is no national structure or national direction, and each division is required to put in this respectful workplace program. That leaves a lot to be desired.

I will say that Deputy Commissioner Callens has done what appears to be an excellent job, and he is really wrestling with it. He has 100 people trained to do these kinds of investigations, which again underlines that there must be more than 26 problems, but there is no consistency across the country. It appears there are no standards.

I asked the auditor of the RCMP whether an audit had been done, first of all, to do a baseline on what the situation is now in the culture and the concerns so one can measure whether progress is being made. There is much technology now, soft and technical technology, that allows for auditing these kinds of cultural features. They did not have an audit plan. They have only done a baseline audit, if one wants to call it that: Simmie Smith's study in B.C. How could one ever measure where one is going if one has not done a baseline? How would one ever know if one had gotten there if one does not have a planned audit every year as one goes? How does one know that one is not falling off the target if one does get there but is not auditing to do it?

I was quite shocked, if this is the priority that it is supposed to be, that there would not be a clear-cut fix on the budget and that there would not be a clear-cut fix on national standards and national leadership and direction in it, that there would not be a very strong element of face-to-face, senior-level-driven meetings where it is made very clear how this culture must change, and so on.

There is another disturbing element, and I know this was in the press so it may be taken out of context, but a study was done where 335 cases before a tribunal were looked at over a four-year period. They determined there were 35 cases of assault, sexual assault and harassment; 30 officers impaired on the job or while driving; 29 Mounties who gave false or misleading statements; and 16 unauthorized uses of the central police database.

A very senior officer — not mentioning names — was asked about this — it seems, in this report, to be related — who said that 95 per cent are just things where people have made mistakes.

Drunk driving is certainly a mistake, but sexual assault is not just a mistake. Giving false or misleading statements is not just a mistake. This is profoundly indicative of a problem if it is at all widespread. We do not know for sure because the RCMP has not looked at how widespread it is, and we do not have an ability to assess that adequately elsewhere, I would think.

Even at the very limit, senior officers should not be saying that kind of thing. They should be saying all of that is unacceptable, disgusting, and we will fix that, period. That is leadership, and that was not evident in this particular statement.

The other thing that is really telling is that this is a $3-billion corporation. It has 30,000 employees. There is not a doubt in my mind that Commissioner Paulson and his senior staff and 99.9 per cent of the 17,000 actual RCMP regular members are absolutely excellent police people. However, what kind of expertise is found within the confines, the structure of that organization to deal with organizational problems of the magnitude that seem to be indicated by what we are seeing? What sort of expertise do they have in changing cultures of an organization of that size, significance and complexity if all they have done essentially is policing? Even if they had some organizational experience in some other way, it would seem to me this is such a big organization, so dispersed, so diverse, so complex and with indications of serious problems that at a senior level they would want actually to bring in expertise to fix that and help with that. None of that is evident at all.

We are not even clear that they have actually consulted with the military, which has had a similar issue and progressed through it in many ways and learned much in doing so. I will mention them in a minute.

These are red flags that made me think that while there is clearly some commitment to fixing the problem, at the very least I think the problem is not adequately understood and not seen to be a cultural problem. It is seen to be some kind of technical process, a structural chain-of-command problem. It is much bigger than that, and these red flags seem to indicate that.

I want to refer to the military case, because the military had a similar issue with their organization, which came to a head with the Somali affair and the killing of a young Somali youth. That was the crunch; that was the final straw that exposed it and really began to get people's attention. That started a decade-long process, which continues even 20 years later, practically.

I refer honourable senators to an article by David Bercuson in the Canadian Military Journal, November 3, 2009, and I will refer to that to some extent. David Bercuson is a well-respected military academic from my province, Alberta.

He makes this point about former Canadian Army Commander Lieutenant-General Jeffrey, who was key in changing the culture that was evidently eroded and to some extent corrosive in the military.

The man who was the head of the army said that it was forced to change, and I mean forced, due to the institutional failures revealed in the Somali affair; and it has. Not only the army but also the entire Canadian Forces first crawled then wandered and then stumbled but eventually began to march forward with determination to a new professionalism rooted in the history and the values of Canadian society, based on a fighting ethos, which would not necessarily apply to the police but certainly there is an ethos, and with a democrat ethic and with one of the best educated officer corps of any army force anywhere. Instead, what is pointed out occurred. The membership in the military reiterated long held beliefs that formal higher education was in no way a necessary prerequisite to officer selection and training. It attempted to "staff" many of the recommendations or to convince its civilian masters to bury them or that there was little substance to this monitoring group and the conclusions it had come up with.

Senator Dallaire put it so well: Often these organizations can deflect the puck but you really need something that changes the game. That is what the military launched itself on to their absolute credit. They began with a series of very painful decisions, such as, first, they shut down the airborne. If that was not nuclear and did not catch people's attention, I do not know what would. Shortly after that period, then Minister of National Defence, Douglas Young, appointed a special advisory group on military justice and police investigation services. It was headed by a former justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, who was given one year to come up with recommendations about how to fix this; and he did so. Young included additional recommendations that totaled about 100. One key element was the initiative to revamp the education and professional development systems for both officers and non-commissioned officers.

I am not saying that is exactly what is necessary in the RCMP. We do not know and it might not be needed. However, I am trying to underline the intensity and depth to which this organization, the army and the military more generally, went to fix these problems. The military education curriculum was to be revised and an independent professional military journal was to be established — an ombudsman. A lot was done. Also, outside structure was implemented.

Then Minister of National Defence, Art Eggleton, took over and set up the Minister of National Defence's Committee to Monitor Change in the Canadian Forces and the Department of National Defence. I will quote Dr. David Bercuson:

The Monitoring Committee was given a mandate to oversee the implementation of those recommendations by the Canadian Forces and the Department of National Defence. This committee, which publicly reported twice a year to the minister, sat for six years.

In the process of that, thanks to Senator Eggleton, with us today, the committee warned that it was not interested in having the military simply check off a series of boxes. Rather, it wanted real commitment to fundamental change, and this committee began to drive it.

I could go on but the point I am making is that there was strong, independent outside civilian monitoring. It was supplemented by six other civilian monitoring bodies. Later in the process, there was a tremendous focus on re-educating, so the curriculum at Royal Military College was revamped, the Canadian Forces College introduced major new courses in national security studies and strategic studies, and a new Master of Defence Studies program was developed. Today, 90 per cent of the officers in the Canadian Forces have university degrees and 50 per cent have graduate degrees. Senator Dallaire was instrumental in this development. He was charged with a mandate to operate outside the chain of command to completely revise requirements for commissioned officers and for general officer specifications. He developed, among other things, a statement of requirement entitled Officership in the 21st Century, and for non-commissioned ranks, Duty With Honour: The Profession of Arms in Canada.

Compare that to the magnitude of the problem we know in our heart of hearts exists in the RCMP, although not everywhere; and I am not trying to smear anyone. The commissioner said vehemently that it is there and the minister said it is there. Interestingly, and this may only be a tragic coincidence, the Dziekanski case — the man who was killed in the Vancouver airport — has been declared a homicide. Perhaps that is the kind of initiative or very unfortunate circumstance that can kick-start this.

I will finish my comments by saying that Bill C-42 is certainly worth supporting; and we can gain more understanding of the bill and what can be done to make it better. I congratulate Senator Lang for what he is doing to bring in a range of witnesses and so on. However, it is important to note that this is just one tool in the box, and it may not fix the problem. In fact, it could exacerbate the problem if we are not careful.

We have to address not only a series of mechanisms that kick in after the problem occurs — after the complaints, after the harassment or after the bullying — but a broad range of initiatives that are fundamentally difficult. It requires fundamental change and a commitment at all levels in the organization to outside civilian review, monitoring and leadership if we are to change the culture that creates these problems in the first place. We all have great admiration and respect for that icon of Canadian values, the RCMP. We know what it means to this country and to people all over the world. It says a great deal about what we are as Canadians. It is a place that we must cherish and guard. We must be very careful to secure it and make it stronger once again.

Hon. Lillian Eva Dyck: Would the honourable senator take a question?

Senator Mitchell: I will.

Senator Dyck: That was an interesting speech. The honourable senator ended by expressing great concern about how the bill might exacerbate the problems for people who bring forth a complaint. Is there nothing in the bill to provide protection for someone, particularly a member of the RCMP bringing forth a complaint of sexual harassment? Is there nothing in the bill that says a complainant cannot be fired, or transferred up to Tuktoyaktuk, or assigned duties that are more dangerous? Is there nothing in the bill to protect a complainant?

Senator Mitchell: Honourable senators, this is a complex bill, and we need to do some work in committee to try to sort out exactly how it will be applied. Much of what is in the bill gives powers to the commissioner, for example, to develop the grievance process. Much of that has yet to be developed, so we do not know.

I do not want to say there is nothing in the bill that would protect a complainant because certainly there are review mechanisms with the conduct review board and the external review board that can kick in. If anyone is to be fired, there is quite a strong process. Short of being fired, other steps can be taken. The only real guarantee you would ever have that this kind of thing could not happen in certain subtle or nuanced ways is, in many cases, what is happening now. Change the culture so that it is not contemplated or put up with, is resisted and set aside, and criticized at every single point at which cultural problems are evident in any way, shape or form.

I believe that is absolutely within reach. Probably for 99 per cent of RCMP members it may be working fine, although I have evidence that it may be a little more widespread than that. No actual structural change is necessarily contemplated by the bill that would ever finally resolve the issue. You have to fix the culture of the organization to resolve it or get as close as you can to a solution.

Senator Dyck: The honourable senator talked about how the bill may set up grievance procedures and so on.

Does anything in the bill allow the incorporation of a code of conduct or ethics or values, almost like a bill of rights for employees or complainants, that would set forth the mandate or overarching ethics in which the grievance process would be develop?

Senator Mitchell: We should have the honourable senator come to be a witness. She is right on.

There is actually provision, if not direction, in the bill for the commissioner to establish what I would think is a new code of conduct because there is a code of conduct now. However, we have no idea who he will consult to do that, whether it is the rank and file, as we would say, non-civilian members of the RCMP, or whether the public will be included. Again, that would be a step in the right direction. However, it needs more than that. The idea of implementation and the structure of the military changes were based on the military ethos, clearly defined and reinforced. To this day, you can see it when you visit bases, and we could when we were in Afghanistan. You just see it. It comes out of every pore of the military organization. You have to enforce it and make it an integral part of every last feature of the culture of that organization. That takes huge effort and energy, as well as resources. Resources are an issue.

Again, there is a code of conduct, and it did not solve the problem. You have to have a strong code of conduct and implement it strongly. All of that will not happen unless there is a real commitment and an understanding that the culture has to be strengthened, guarded and redeveloped to some extent.

Senator Dyck: I have one final question. The honourable senator mentioned the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission. Does the bill outline who selects or appoints the members of that commission? How many people? Who selects them? Will there been consideration for gender and minority representation, gender in particular because it seems, in the press anyway, that there is a lot of concern about sexual harassment.

Senator Mitchell: That is a very good point. I know from the bill that there will be five members, that there cannot be any RCMP members or retired members on the CRCC, and that they are appointed by the minister. That also is a point of contention. Are they distant enough? I do not want to pile things on, but that is an issue that could be debated to the extent that the commission itself does not go far enough. I think that sort of overwhelms the other point.

However, the honourable senator's point is very well taken. There should be some effort to have balance, certainly gender balance, and Aboriginals have a huge stake in this process.

Another report about the relationship of the RCMP with Aboriginal women is very telling and quite unsettling, certainly for Aboriginals. It should be for all Canadians, and I am sure it is for most.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable Senator Mitchell, I regret to inform you that your time has expired. Honourable Senator Dallaire had a question. Are you prepared to ask the chamber for more time?

Senator Mitchell: Yes, I would be pleased to answer a question if I could have more time.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is more time granted, honourable senators?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Hon. Roméo Antonius Dallaire: Honourable senators, I have a short question before I ask for the adjournment of debate. I stand here nearly directly behind my previous boss who imposed all that civilian oversight on us at the time, and I have to say that it was not pleasant. As a serving general officer, with over 30 years of experience in the force, I had to respond to six civilian oversight committees that monitored, for up to six years, how we implemented the complete readjustment of the cultural framework of the Armed Forces, a very conservative bastion of our society, how we re-articulated the ethos, and how we created a Canadian Forces leadership institute that actually studied leadership and command and how to inculcate that into the structure. Chief Justice Dickson of the Supreme Court, an excellent artillery officer, led the reform of our judicial process, the Queen's rules and regulations. Five years later, another Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Antonio Lamer, who was also an honorary colonel in the artillery, did an in-depth review of how we did. This thing went on for years, and it was horribly painful, though not so much for the troops, who gained confidence in the leadership because they could see what was happening, including a small purge of certain senior officers who simply did not understand what was going on and did not want to change. It also provided senior leadership with the parameters they needed to command within the ethical, moral and legal dimensions of the profession.

I see this bill as a significant exercise but not the end of the exercise in any way, shape or form. I would hope that the RCMP will see it that way. This terribly long preamble is to indicate the nature of the beast that the honourable senator has been trying to articulate here, one of more than just rules and regulations, one of trying to re-articulate an ethos in a conservative paramilitary organization. Does the bill cover how long we will be watching this thing? This comes from a bit of a privileged discussion I have been having. Do we, in three or four years, go back to it and say, "How have they been doing?" or do we expect a resettlement? Is that part of the bill being presented to us?

Senator Mitchell: As I read it, it is not. It could be that some of those elements could be developed by the commissioner through the powers that he has been given to set up grievance processes and so on.

In the testimony I alluded to earlier, it struck me that there was no real sense that they would be auditing. They did not have a process set up, and they were not talking about it. That is very important. I think it is a role that the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence can play annually. We should take the gender-based analysis and program — the 37 recommendations — and ask about those every year. We should have the commissioner in here and ask, "Where are you on this one and this one?" More needs to be done.

One other thing that is interesting to me about what the honourable senator said is how hard it was to do it in the military. It is not as easy as just bringing in a bill. What I feel as I read this bill, listen to the testimony and hear some of the statements is that they are always getting close and then pulling back. Not only should they not withdraw or limit the powers of the CRCC, as they have structured it, to just complaints, they should be demanding a public civilian inquiry and oversight. It is hard to fix this, and the RCMP needs help to do that. The more public exposure, the more assistance and the more expertise that you can get, the more powerful your initiatives will be and the more likely it is that you can fix them.

Senator Dallaire: After nearly five years or so, it was felt that the military had to go back to the Canadian people and say, "We have cleaned out the place; we have reformed." In fact, the term used was actually "reform" of the officer corps. It was felt that we should have gone back to the House of Commons, just as the Somalia issue was presented in the House of Commons, and said, "This is what has been done, and you can have confidence in the forces again." That option might be entertained with this bill, I would suspect.

Senator Mitchell: What, in fact, is the end point? When do you get that sense, and how do you establish that you have that sense? It would take some sort of external review to do that.

Give us your feedback about this speech.

We would love hearing your comments about this speech. Please submit them using the form below.

Your contact information

First Name:
Last Name:
Email:
Province:
Postal Code:
Comment:

Selected Speeches

Boyle Street Community Services

Oct 5, 2016

Bill S-229: An Act Respecting Underground Infrastructure Safety

Oct 4, 2016

Telus World of Science

Jun 16, 2016

Second reading of Bill C-14, Medical Assistance in Dying

Jun 3, 2016

Wildfires in Fort McMurray—Emergency Appeal

May 5, 2016

Digging Safely

Apr 21, 2016

In Pursuit of Common Ground

Mar 18, 2016

Speech from the Throne—Motion for Address in Reply

Dec 10, 2015

Second Reading of my Underground Infrastructure Safety Enhancement Bill

Jun 22, 2015

Second Reading of my Enhancement of Civilian Review and Oversight in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Bill

Jun 19, 2015

Third reading of Bill C-51, Anti-terrorism Bill, 2015

Jun 2, 2015

Second reading of Bill C-51, Anti-terrorism Bill, 2015

May 13, 2015

Tribute to The Late Honourable Pierre Claude Nolin, Speaker of the Senate

Apr 29, 2015

Third reading of Bill C-44, An Act to amend the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act and other Acts

Apr 1, 2015

Bill 10 in Alberta

Mar 11, 2015

Speech at Report Stage for Bill C-279

Mar 10, 2015

Second reading of Bill C-44, An Act to amend the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act and other Acts

Feb 25, 2015

Senate energy report makes recommendations to protect underground infrastructure

Dec 16, 2014

HeForShe Campaign

Oct 1, 2014

Dandelion Renewables

Sep 25, 2014

Alberta Emerald Foundation

Sep 18, 2014

Global Wind Day

Jun 13, 2014

Safe Digging Month

Apr 29, 2014

Northwest Territories Devolution Bill

Feb 27, 2014

Speech at second reading of Bill C-279, An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code (gender identity)

Feb 4, 2014

Forestry Industry

Dec 10, 2013

Geothermal Energy

Nov 28, 2013

Trans Day of Remembrance

Nov 20, 2013

Discours au congrès de la Canadian Common Ground Alliance

Nov 18, 2013

Speech to the Canadian Common Ground Alliance convention

Nov 14, 2013

Child, Family and Adolescent Mental Health

Jun 25, 2013

Speech at Third Reading of Bill C-42 (Enhancing Royal Canadian Mounted Police Accountability Act)

May 23, 2013

Speech at Second Reading of Bill C-42 (Enhancing Royal Canadian Mounted Police Accountability Act)

Apr 16, 2013

Speech at second reading of Bill C-279, An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code (gender identity)

Apr 16, 2013

Allotment of Time on Budget 2012

Dec 13, 2012

Speech at Second Reading of Budget 2012, Bill C-45

Dec 10, 2012

Speech on Korean War Veterans Day Bill

Dec 6, 2012

Two speeches on the third reading of Budget 2012, Bill C-45

Dec 6, 2012

iSisters Technology Mentoring

Nov 2, 2011

Canadian Wheat Board

Oct 18, 2011

"Because I Am a Girl" Campaign

Oct 18, 2011

La campagne « Parce que je suis une fille »

Oct 18, 2011

La Commission canadienne du blé

Oct 18, 2011

Canadian Foundation for Women's Health

Sep 29, 2011

Thinking of Jack Layton

Aug 23, 2011

Le Budget des dépenses de 2011-2012

Jun 26, 2011

L'école secondaire Queen Elizabeth

Jun 23, 2011

Queen Elizabeth High School - Congratulations on Fiftieth Anniversary

Jun 23, 2011

Le budget de 2011

Jun 16, 2011

Budget 2011 - Inquiry

Jun 16, 2011

DeforestAction

Jun 9, 2011

DeforestAction

Jun 9, 2011

La Loi sur les mesures de réinsertion et d'indemnisation des militaires et vétérans des Forces canadiennes La Loi sur les pensions

Mar 24, 2011

Canadian Forces Members and Veterans Re-establishment and Compensation Act Pension Act

Mar 24, 2011

Support Program for Aboriginal Nursing Students at the University of Lethbridge

Mar 9, 2011

Sur le Programme de soutien des étudiants autochtones en nursing de l’Université de Lethbridge

Mar 9, 2011

Corporate and Income Taxes

Feb 3, 2011

Climate Change Policy

Feb 2, 2011

Women in Prisons in Canada

Dec 15, 2010

Les femmes incarcérées au Canada

Dec 15, 2010

Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Bill

Dec 14, 2010

Economic mismanagement

Dec 13, 2010

La gestion de l'économie.

Dec 13, 2010

Sustainable Development Technology

Dec 9, 2010

Fighting Internet and Wireless Spam Bill

Dec 9, 2010

Edmonton's Bid for Expo 2017

Dec 9, 2010

Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and Companies' Creditor Arrangment Act

Nov 30, 2010

Women's Equality in Canada — Inquiry

Nov 23, 2010

National Day of Service Bill

Nov 3, 2010

Senatorial Selection Bill

Nov 2, 2010

Second reading of Bill S-221, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (carbon offset tax credit)

Oct 7, 2010

Jobs and Economic Growth Bill – Sixth Report of National Finance Committee Negatived

Jul 21, 2010

Study on the Current State and Future of Energy Sector

Jun 15, 2010

Bill C-311, Climate Change Accountability

Jun 1, 2010

The State of the Senate's Online Presence

Jun 1, 2010

Bilingual Supreme Court Judges

May 12, 2010

Environment and Human Rights

May 4, 2010

Erosion of Freedom of Speech

Apr 27, 2010

What is Realistic and Effective Parliamentary Reform?

Mar 17, 2010

It's Time To Shelve Bottled Water

May 5, 2009

The Danger of Unintended Consequences - Senate Reform

Apr 28, 2009

Bill S-3, Energy Efficiency Act

Feb 12, 2009

Bill S-213, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (carbon offset tax credit)

Feb 10, 2009

Bill C-474, Federal Sustainable Development Act

Jun 18, 2008

Bill C-33, An Act to Amend the Canadian Environmental Protection Act

Jun 12, 2008

Bill S-228, An Act to amend the Canadian Wheat Board Act

Feb 26, 2008

Speech from the Throne: A Government Without Leadership

Oct 30, 2007

Temporary Foreign Workers Program

Jun 18, 2007

Kyoto: Response to the Third Reading

May 31, 2007

Statements on the second reading of the Budget Implementation Bill

Jun 13, 2006