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Public safety minister wants RCMP harassment report findings implemented

Click to play video: '‘We were ignored completely’: Review says RCMP leadership failed to act on harassment complaints' ‘We were ignored completely’: Review says RCMP leadership failed to act on harassment complaints
WATCH: Global News has obtained an exclusive copy of the independent review of the RCMP's National Intelligence Coordination Centre under Cameron Ortis. – Mar 17, 2021

Public Safety Minister Bill Blair has asked the RCMP to explain how it is responding to a damning report on harassment in the RCMP intelligence centre after Global News revealed its contents.

The report by consultant Alphonse MacNeil found that workplace harassment complaints by intelligence analysts had been ignored by senior RCMP officials for more than three years.

Although the report on the National Intelligence Coordination Centre was completed more than 10 months ago, the RCMP said it was still working on a management action plan in response.

“We expect that the findings of the MacNeil report be addressed and its recommendations be implemented in a careful and timely manner,” said the minister’s spokesperson, Mary-Liz Power.

Read more: ‘We were ignored completely’: Review says RCMP leadership failed to act on harassment complaints

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But the Conservative opposition said the minister was to blame.

“Once again, Minister Bill Blair has been slow to take action on critical issues that fall under his responsibility and authority, despite being made well aware of expert reports and testimony,” said Public Safety critic Shannon Stubbs.

“Conservatives are calling on the minister to provide Canadians with answers they deserve and a plan that supports the changes and recommendations he promised to implement.”

On Wednesday, Global News reported the details of MacNeil’s independent review of harassment allegations at the national intelligence centre under director-general Cameron Ortis.

The review was ordered in December 2019, after Ortis was arrested on eight counts under the Security of Information Act alleging he peddled police information. He is also charged with breach of trust and fraud.

In his report, MacNeil said RCMP intelligence analysts had been complaining about Ortis’ behaviour since shortly after he took over in 2016 but they had been ignored until after his arrest three years later.

Among those named in the report was Commissioner Brenda Lucki. An email sent to the commissioner about the problem was never opened, MacNeil wrote, and a follow-up email garnered no response from her.

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Despite the incident, which involved an employee who said her work was belittled as “garbage” and that she suffered health impacts, the minister’s office said it still had confidence in Lucki.

“We have mandated the commissioner to prevent, address and eliminate harassment within the ranks of the RCMP, and we expect her to deliver on this,” Blair’s spokesperson said.

Click to play video: 'RCMP report details widespread accounts of sexual abuse and harassment' RCMP report details widespread accounts of sexual abuse and harassment
RCMP report details widespread accounts of sexual abuse and harassment – Nov 19, 2020

“We have confidence that she will deliver on this commitment, and will support her through this work.”

The federal government has long been vowing to tackle harassment problems in the RCMP, following a series of reviews dating back more than a decade and legal settlements paid to victims.

“No one should have to experience discrimination or harassment in the workplace, but we know that this is an everyday reality for many employees in Canada and in the RCMP,” Liz-Power said.

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Stewart.Bell@globalnews.ca

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