Former Mountie Krista Carle says the federal government has muzzled her attempt to complain before a parliamentary committee about harassment inside the national police force.
Carle, a 48-year-old Victoria resident, made the claim Friday at a news conference in downtown Victoria alongside MP Randall Garrison.
Carle told reporters she had expected to testify Thursday about RCMP harassment of women in the force before the House of Commons Standing Committee on the Status of Women in Ottawa. She was asked to submit her notes beforehand so they could be reviewed and translated into French.
Carle was then told her testimony wouldn’t be required and her appearance was cancelled.
“It seems the government was not ready to hear the shocking truth about the devastating reality of abuses and harassment of women working in the RCMP,” said Carle.
“I’m stunned that we would endure such abuses in the workplace and be muzzled by the government after finally having the courage to speak up.”
The chairwoman of the standing committee is Irene Mathyssen, the NDP representative for London-Fanshawe. A message left at her constituency office Friday was not immediately returned.
Carle spent most of her 20-year career as a Mountie in Alberta, and during that time she said she endured ongoing sexual harassment. In previous interviews, she has said the harassment included male officers putting pornography inside her desk, telling sexual jokes and inappropriately touching her. She transferred to Nanaimo and changed her last name for fear that word would spread that she moved because of sexual harassment.
Carle was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder in 2004 and applied for medical discharge in 2009. To this day, she said, she’s haunted by fear.
“I’m so paranoid when I see police cars — I get scared they’re going to do something to me,” Carle said. “I really get panic attacks … that’s how bad it is.”
About 300 current and former Mounties have contacted a law firm and are pursuing a class-action suit against the force over harassment and bullying, she said.
“I speak for countless numbers of women who have contacted me personally,” said Carle, who admitted that stepping into the public eye is difficult.
Carle came forward to speak out about her experiences after Catherine Galliford, former spokeswoman for the RCMP in B.C., said she suffered sexual harassment from senior officers for years.
Carle said those who harassed her were never disciplined and are still in the force. Harassment complaints lodged within the force are often unresolved, she said.
“They take years to be investigated,” Carle said. “[Investigators] drag it out for as long as they can until the victim will go away. That’s the tactic they use.”
Many women in the RCMP are afraid or unwilling to report harassment for fear of reprisals, she said.
Meanwhile, alleged harassers remain in the force, Carle said.
“We have an officer who posted bondage photos — he’s still in the RCMP. There’s another officer who sexually assaulted women in the polygraph unit — he’s still employed by the RCMP.
“The RCMP really needs to step up to the plate, clean up their act before they even consider hiring more women,” she said.
Garrison praised Carle for speaking out on harassment within the RCMP.
“I’ve asked the government to begin a process of reconciliation with these women and not drag it through the courts for years and years.”
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