The delay of the trial for Labour Code charges against the RCMP is creating more stress for officers, according to a Moncton Mountie who serves with the Mounted Police Association of Canada.
“It seems that more delays just brings more stress on the officers that would be potential witnesses at that trial,” said Const. Louis-Philippe Theriault.
Theriault is the national secretary of the Mounted Police Professional Association of Canada (MPPAC). He is also an RCMP member serving in Moncton who was working during the time of the shootings in 2014.
Theriault said, through the association, he has been working to support officers who have been identified as witnesses and potential witnesses in the case.
“It is the stress and the fear of the unknown,” he said. “The officers don’t want to go through that again but at the same time, they want answers as to, ‘Was there any wrongdoing on the part of the RCMP?’ That is what we want to find out, and with all of these delays, we are not finding out what’s going on.”
He said the MacNeil report which was conducted following the tragedy pointed out shortcomings or things that could be improved within the inner workings of the RCMP including issues as communicating accurate information, accessing high-powered weaponry and securing hard-body armour. The review, released in January 2015, made 64 recommendations calling for better access to shotguns and rifles, radio communication improvements, and training for supervisors to better prepare them for critical incidents.
Employment and Social Development Canada alleges there were four labour-code violations related to the force’s equipment, training and supervision in the June 4, 2014 incident in which Justin Bourque shot and killed Constables Fabrice Gevaudan, Doug Larche and Dave Ross. Constables Eric Dubois and Darlene Goguen were also wounded.
Each charge comes with a fine of up to $1 million.
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On Tuesday, the trial was rescheduled until April 24.
Retired Mountie and MPPAC member Terry McKee told Global News the delay has a “huge impact” on those involved and said the trial shouldn’t go ahead.
“I really don’t want to see this go into a trial because of the events that will be echoed again from that tragedy,” McKee said. “But when it’s relating to the Labour Code, there has to be identity found with the organization. There has to be some sort of culpability levied or for the community to understand just exactly what took place.”
McKee questioned the need for a trial and who would benefit from it.
He added that he was surprised the trial was even going forward.
“I thought the MacNeil report indicated all the faults without pointing a finger at one individual, and that those were exactly the faults that the Labour Code investigation had revealed and it would’ve been admitting to the faults as an organization,” McKee said.
In a statement from the RCMP last week, a spokesperson said the force had made “significant progress” towards addressing and implementing 50 of the recommendations.
“The RCMP’s focus on implementing the recommendations is to ensure that RCMP officers across the country continue to have access to the tools, equipment and training necessary to keep them and the communities we serve, safe,” said Annie Delisle in the statement.
Delisle said the majority of the remaining recommendations have “ongoing procurement processes and/or involve IT solutions” that could mean additional time is needed.
Theriault said though many recommendations have been implemented, and training and equipment has been improved, there’s still information needed.
“We need to know if someone made really bad choices that led to the death of our officers,” Theriault said.
He said the trial has already been delayed several times, which has been trying for all involved in the tragedy. He said he hopes that the case won’t go to trial and the RCMP will admit to wrongdoing.
“I would not be surprised if it was postponed, or even a change of plea by the RCMP,” he said.
Nadine Larche, widow of Doug Larche, said in an interview outside the courthouse after the trial was delayed, that it’s “another heartache,” and added she’s unsure whether she wants the trial to go forward or not.
“I want it to go through so that there is some knowledge out there and some accountability, but yet, I don’t want it to go through for all the emotions that it’s going to bring up for me and many others,” Nadine said.
Theriault said dealing with the tragedy has been difficult for him personally, and he has mixed emotions about sitting in on the trial.
“We could hear the truth and get evidence as to what really happened.”
But he said avoiding a trial altogether would help improve morale within the force.
“In the end, if the RCMP pleads guilty and admits responsibilities, I think it would go a long way to show accountability to their members.”
—With files from Global News and The Canadian Press
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