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Tales from Depot too Ticklish to Tell: How the RCMP & C-42 Fail Cadets

Nov 08

One of the most glaring issues surrounding mobbing and sexual harassment in the RCMP is how the public has not really been made privy to the fact that these issues are commonplace at Depot. Yet, not a word is said nor is anything really done.

Sure, Catherine Galliford has mentioned that her harassment took place as early as Depot and before. But, no one seems too concerned about what services or supports are in place for cadets at Depot. They’re not members, they’re essentially students. And, seemingly, their outcomes are inconsequential to the public or the Force.

Tell that to Ali Tahmourpour, Tammy Downes, James Maroney or any cadet who has had their career cut short because of harassment.

Unlike the old program, cadets are students in a “designated post-secondary institution.” The Force is quite proud of this since it was a way to cut costs from the old recruit program. It also seemingly provided them a way to weed out candidates in an expeditious manner, whether or not there was cause. The organization  closes ranks and circles the wagons on targets in a heartbeat. Appeals processes are a sham, and, as cadets, they have no rights at all under the Act.

So, when the C-42 steamroller is put forward to make changes to an act that has not been changed in almost three decades, it is sad to note that no mention is even made of cadets anywhere in the Act. In other words, you can put your life on hold for your career, you can put yourself in debt, be issued tax forms for your room and board – but if we don’t like you, you’re screwed.

What does this teach cadets? You’re expendable. Or some of you are. The more predatory of the ilk, those that “fit the mold” will make it through. A goodly number of those who are middle-of-the-road cadets will make it through with no problems. But, if someone gets a whiff of something they don’t like about you, god help you. There’s nothing that can be done. The Japanese have a saying for: deru kugi wa utareru – the protruding nail is pounded down.

What does this teach the member? I’ve heard it said more than once by serving members who recognize the phenomena: the RCMP eats its young. The cadet that needs extra help to make it. The cadet who stands out in training or show any signs of being above-average. The cadet who sticks up for others or makes ethical waves of any kind. You will be consumed and spit out.

Sound familiar? Sure it does. Substitute ‘cadet’ for ‘recruit’ or ‘member,’ and you’ll likely recognize this behaviour as the one that plays itself out in personality conflicts or harassment issues in dets and divisions across Canada. There’s trouble in the Serge – someone is in for a rough ride and it is not the perpetrator. It is the target (and/or anyone who tries to intervene on the target’s behalf) who will suffer. The common behaviour now becomes ‘keep your head down and your mouth shut and toe the organizational line. Oh, can you SMELL the dysfunction?

And now Comm Paulson and Min. Toews think that C-42 will solve all the problems. Members with half a functioning neuron see this as false. But, if they truly wish to change the culture, they need to do one of two things: they need to extend the Act, through C-42 or otherwise, to cover cadets. This will allow them more rights and freedoms in terms of dealing with issues of harassment FAIRLY. Currently, and since the cadet program began back in 1995, the rights to fight improper treatment in any form are abysmal. There are two paved routes into Depot. One off of Dewdney, one off of Garrett. However, there are many ways to get railroaded out of Depot… and Depot admin have all the controls. This, for many reasons, has to change.

The other option is to kill the baby and re-instate the recruit program. Abandon the post-secondary experiment, which has been borne on the backs of cadets for the past 17 years, as a failed experiment. Level the playing field again and allow targeted candidates in training the same rights to appeal and grieve as members are allowed. If all other issues in the Act work as the nabobs in Ottawa believe it to, then management at Depot will still have means to deal with  miscreants who somehow find their way to Depot.

Plenty of good folk have been railroaded out of Depot since 2005. Competent individuals with impressive skillsets. But, a pitiful complaints process – the facilitator is the agent of contact for all problems, but often the facilitator is the tormentor or a catalyst/ agent provocateur – has led to their dismissal from Depot unceremoniously. Think only the good get through? Check the rolls of miscreants and malcontents in the ranks who have made their way into the news in that same time frame. It’s more than a small few who came through under the cadet program.

Want to change the culture of the Force? It has to begin at Depot, one way or another. Failure to include Depot in the change process will ensure the insanity continues. It will see the mobbing and harassment issues continue unabated. It will end some good, maybe even great, careers prematurely.

And it will ensure that all survivors learn some terrible lessons about how to stay alive in the Force: keep your head down, don’t stick out and don’t try to defend anyone who is being picked on.

I’ll leave you with some sage wisdom from a late friend of mine, a form mil pol officer, that came while I was going through my time in the Force meatgrinder: in the RCMP now, members need two vests – one to protect them from the bad guys and one to protect them from their own.

Jamieson Hanlon

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From → Bill C-42, Depot

10 Comments
  1. Well said, and the right place to effect poistive change is DEPOT

  2. Jamieson Hanlon permalink

    Thanks, Anonymous. Was once like you… though, if they want to find us, we are never really anonymous to them. Sorta why I’m here – with my real name. Only way to give credibility to our cause is to stand up and be named, (regimentally) numbered and counted.
    Keep checking back – Mike has a great site here – and it needs more voices!

  3. As a person who has experienced bullying in virtually every educational institution I’ve set foot in (and finally become disenfranchised from pursuit of a career in medicine as a result), I whole-heartedly agree. Thanks for posting this insight.

  4. Jamieson Hanlon permalink

    Thanks, HG. Considering your academic bent, you should really look into the work Ken WESTHUES has done into the issue of mobbing. He has had a hell of a hard row to hoe himself. Two of the biggest problem areas for mobbing? Policing and academia.

    Who’da thought, huh?

    Chin up, eyes open and don’t let the rotters see ya sweat.

  5. I agreed with everything you have written here regarding the cadet program and the environment at Depot. There is harassment of cadets by facilitators that goes unchecked. And a lot of good cadets are forced out before they get to graduate. How cadets are regarded under the current system is a major problem, as you mention. They aren’t employees and thus have no real rights or recourse if they are tormented by a facilitator. Most cadets live in fear during their stay at Depot because of this. Depot is just not a healthy place psychology or physically.

    • Jamieson Hanlon permalink

      Akira, thanks for the comment. Sadly, it is a roll of the dice when you get to Depot. There were plenty of good facilitators, quite a few mediocre ones and indeed some apples that were beyond the putrid stage. Had I been in a troop on either side of seniority of mine, it would have been a different experience altogether.

      And sometimes, it was not the facilitators who caused the issue, but instructors in one of the cells. Or, as it was in mine, a combination of facilitator and a small steering group of malcontents. These folk still have careers, and while I have heard that some of them softened their BS game post-Depot to include apologizing to folks who had been in lower troops as to how they treated them and how they behaved towards them, I’d call that for what it would seem to be: snakes changing their skins for protection. Once a snake, always a snake. If one thing is certain about human behaviour, it is that you cannot hide your true nature.

      I’d daresay that if the Force is changing the leadership model, they should also review the model of who gets to be an instructor/ facilitator and what the makeup/ background of these folks are. The old rumour in the mill was that there were three types of folk who were posted to Depot: burnouts, problem children and those who truly wanted to be at Depot. Inasmuch that candidates are scrutinized for their suitability for Depot, if there is not the same type of measure used for instructors and facilitators, then there bloody well should be. Teaching and instruction is, contrary to the joke, not suited for the inept and not for everyone. Just as there are certain personality types that should not be promoted into leadership positions, there are also certain types that should not be allowed to mold the new recruits.

  6. Same shit everywhere. There are news and stories about a variety of instances of abuse of authority, infringement of Charter rights, violations of federal and provincial statutes, corruption and incompetence in the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) visit the ‘Ontario Provincial Police Hall of Shame’ website located @ http://www.discriminationopp.org

    • Jamie permalink

      Michael/ Mikhail, I am not saying that it does not exist elsewhere. What I am concerned about is that Depot is a ‘void’ in terms of RCMP’s optics. You do not exist until you get your badge. Thus what happens at Depot stays at Depot … unless of course it happens to embarrass the Force brass, then it is handled and made to go away.

      I have friends that work in policing agys across the country, including the OPP. What you are referring to is no less egregious. However, this is not the forum for such issues.

  7. It isn’t just in the depot. The same appears to be happening in the OPP. For more news and stories about a variety of instances of abuse of authority, infringement of Charter rights, violations of federal and provincial statutes, corruption and incompetence in the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) visit the ‘Ontario Provincial Police Hall of Shame’ website located @ http://www.discriminationopp.org

  8. Amar permalink

    Thank you for sharing this. Very well put. I am a victim of depot treatment of being targeted for failure. I was terminated before my training truly started. The higher ups that are judge and jury don’t follow their own set core values and the cadets are to adhere. They lie right from get go to finish. They preach it (core values HIPCAR) but don’t follow it themselves. I hope our voices are heard so that good qualified persons are sucessful. Been in the RCMP family for 22 years I have witnessed many misconduct behaviour and these persons are promoted and the persons who are loyal dedicated are penalized. There is no justice only RCMP leaders playing God with people’s livelihoods. They have and abuse their powers. I feel a little lighter sharing my thoughts. Thanks.

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