Sex gets the headlines.
So when Canadians think about harassment at the RCMP, sexual harassment is the first thing that comes to mind, particularly as hundreds of women go to court with a class-action lawsuit against the force.
But the problem goes much deeper than that. When it comes to harassment at the RCMP, sex is only the tip of the iceberg. Harassment at the RCMP rears its head in many other forms: bullying, exclusion, contempt, ridicule, retribution.
Female members are prime targets in all these categories, which isn't exactly surprising, given the RCMP's long-standing macho culture. Visible minorities get more than their unfair share of contempt as well. No surprise here either - the RCMP was a white man's club for a long time.
Experts who have studied the inner workings of the RCMP in recent years certainly haven't described it as a healthy institution.
It probably isn't fair to describe incidents of unfairness as routine - most of the nearly 30,000 people employed by the RCMP treat each other with respect.
But there are enough people who think of respect as a personality disorder to make unfairness a major issue, one that will require a more enlightened kind of leadership to fix.
Among RCMP members I have talked to, some think allegations of harassment have been overblown. That said, the majority of those I have queried believe the sexual allegations actually cloud the more widespread plague of exclusion, bullying and humiliation.
These people say the old boys' club is still alive and kicking, even if its modern-day members include a sprinkling of females and minorities. As a result, there is perceived to be a class of individuals within the RCMP who get preferential status when those in power make arbitrary decisions, which is often.
How does a person qualify for the old boys' club? Maybe you worked closely with someone in earlier years and "had his back" as he climbed the ladder - and got to a place where he could pull you up with him.
Maybe you played hockey on the same team and fed him the puck - hockey is big at the RCMP. There are all kinds of ways to win loyalty.
Of course, loyalty doesn't outweigh merit in a healthy institution, but that's not the RCMP. There are systems (and sometimes unions) within healthy institutions that support fairness.
But again, that's not the RCMP. Company-paid "staff relations officers" are supposed to advance legitimate complaints, but not many of them are known for their dogged pursuit of justice.
Too many competitions aren't open, which engenders the belief they are rigged. Too many people who have committed real offences - including sexual harassment or bullying - lose a few days' pay. Sometimes they are moved to other divisions. Sometimes they even get promoted.
Meanwhile, the grievance procedure can be a long, lonely vigil for the victim, too often violating the rules of confidentiality, too often accompanied by shunning instead of counselling.
When punishment for the victim outweighs punishment for the offender, there's something radically wrong.
I have learned that the RCMP is conducting a number of group interviews with female members to try to determine how serious the issue of gender discrimination and harassment is within the force. That's a start.
Unwanted sexual advances? They're bad - terrible, really. But so is all this other crap that bubbles up from one common sinkhole - an institutional lack of respect.
The level of unfairness within Canada's national police service is bad for women, bad for men, bad for the RCMP and bad for the quality of service it offers the Canadian public.
Getting rid of rotten apples and even more rotten systems will take the kind of leadership - at all levels - that the RCMP has never seen before. Commissioner Bob Paulson says he's up for the fight. If so, he had better get a lot of other Mounties on side.
Because there's no way he can roll this boulder up a mountain on his own.
Colin Kenny is former chairman of the Senate Committee on National Security and Defence.
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