Discrimination, harassment, and sexual assault within the RCMP led to a $125-million settlement being paid out to more than 2,300 women in 2016.
Now, the plaintiff in that class action, former B.C. Mountie Janet Merlo, is speaking out in support of a fellow officer who recently resigned in Delta.
“Nobody comes forward and makes these allegations without something big behind it and because it destroys your career, and (her story) is hard to watch, but she has our full support,” Merlo told Global News.
The comments come one day after Global News reported the story of Helen Irvine, who says she was harassed and bullied during her eight years with the Delta Police Department before she resigned in April.
Irvine, 35, called it a toxic workplace, saying her colleagues would hid her patrol-car keys and ask her to play inappropriate games involving other people in the office. She said her husband, a member of the RCMP in Surrey who worked the same shift, would even listen to the police radio so that he could go out to help her if she needed, to make sure she got support.
Irvine said she complained to the department’s HR team in 2017, but was later told there wasn’t enough evidence to take action.
Merlo said Irvine’s experience was especially troubling, as someone who has worked tirelessly to get justice for her RCMP colleagues. She said sexism and harassment in policing persists.
“I think it is across the board because you look through Ontario, the Waterloo police and the Hamilton police and even back east when I was there, I heard some rumblings in the Newfoundland police force,” she said. “I think it’s systemic.”
Delta police confirmed there was not enough evidence to substantiate misconduct in Irvine’s complaint, but added that the internal investigation turned up a second incident that ultimately led to a finding of misconduct against two officers, and sanctions were imposed.
The department said it later implemented recommendations aimed at fostering a more inclusive and professional environment.
Merlo is calling for more to be done in policing to support women and to help stop discrimination.
“To see another good, productive person leave police because of harassment and bullying — it should be unacceptable right across Canada.”