The grown children of former Nanaimo Mountie Krista Carlé, who took her own life last year after a long battle against sexual harassment within the RCMP, have been denied compensation from a $100-million class-action settlement in the case.
The 53-year-old Sooke woman submitted a claim for compensation in January 2018, but died that July before it was processed.
A week later, Kevin Carlé, who is handling his sister’s estate, received a letter from the office that assesses the settlement claims stating that her file would be closed.
“Due to the volume of claims that have been received, Ms. Carlé’s claim had not yet been assigned for preliminary review at the time of her death,” wrote Michel Bastarache, independent assessor. “This is to inform you of my decision to close Ms. Carlé’s file.”
Bastarache’s letter noted that Krista Carlé had been a key figure in bringing the issue of sexual harassment within the RCMP to light.
“The public outpouring of grief that has followed the news of her death and the multiple contacts we have had from class members over the past number of days are a testament to her place within the movement that led to this settlement and that has provided so many women with an outlet to tell their stories,” he wrote.
Despite that, Bastarache stated that he was bound by the terms of the settlement to only consider claims by current and former “living” RCMP officers, civilian members and public-service employees with the force. He added that his decision was not subject to appeal or judicial review.
Kevin Carlé, a retired Royal Canadian Navy captain living in Victoria, took up the matter with federal government officials, but was told they had no authority to override the court settlement.
He is now going public in hopes of getting justice for his sister, who dealt with post-traumatic stress disorder after enduring sexual harassment and assault at the hands of male RCMP officers.
“We’re looking for the government to do the right thing,” he said.
Carlé said his sister’s children, 19 and 21, should not have to pay the price for the inability of the assessor’s office to deal with a backlog of claims.
“Why should lack of capability and administrative planning on their part translate into a problem for my sister’s estate?” he said.
Guy Versailles, a spokesperson for the independent assessor’s office, said the assessor has to abide by the terms of the settlement agreement.
“I know that this can sound bureaucratic or callous or any number of words you can put on it,” he said. “But it is the unfortunate reality that [the assessor] does not have the power to alter it.
“Obviously, we’re very sorry about what happened. We can do nothing at this point but to offer our condolences.”
Versailles acknowledged that the office was inundated with claims at the outset, and it took time for the federal court to approve more assessors.
“Things are coming along much quicker now,” he said. “But it is a fact that we were swamped at one point and we processed claims as diligently as we could with the resources we had. And when we got additional resources, we could speed it up.”
Kevin Carlé said he hasn’t ruled out legal action, but he’s reluctant to take that approach, given the government’s resources.
Instead, he’s encouraging people to write the government and their members of Parliament.
“I’d like to see a bit of noise around this and I’d like to see some pressure brought against the government to at least do the right thing,” he said.