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Evidence of meeting #29 for Status of Women in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was problem.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Clerk of the Committee  Mrs. Marlene Sandoval
Robert Paulson  Commissioner, Royal Canadian Mounted Police

3:35 p.m.

The Clerk of the Committee Mrs. Marlene Sandoval

Good day.

Honourable members of the committee,

I see we have a quorum.

I must inform members that the clerk of the committee can only receive motions for the election of the chair. The clerk cannot receive other types of motions, and cannot entertain points of order nor participate in debate.

We can now proceed to the election of the chair. As set out in Standing Order 106(2), the chair must be a member of the official opposition.

I am ready to receive nominations for the chairmanship.

3:35 p.m.

NDP

Mylène Freeman NDP Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

I'd like to nominate Marie-Claude Morin.

3:35 p.m.

The Clerk

It has been moved by Mylène Freeman that Marie-Claude Morin be elected chair of the committee.

Are there any other motions?

Is it the pleasure of the committee to adopt the motion?

(Motion agreed to)

I declare the motion duly carried and Marie-Claude Morin duly elected chair of the committee. I invite her to take the chair.

3:35 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Chair NDP Marie-Claude Morin

Good afternoon to you all. I would first like to say that I am very happy to be the chair of this committee and to work with you, particularly on this committee. I thank you for that motion.

Today we are holding the 29th hearing of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women. We must go in camera for the adoption of the report.

[Proceedings continue in camera]

4:29 p.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP Marie-Claude Morin

We shall now resume the public hearing.

Good day and welcome to this 29th hearing of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women. Today, in the context of our study on the role and challenges of women employed by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, we welcome the Commissioner of the RCMP, Mr. Robert Paulson.

4:30 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Sgro Liberal York West, ON

I have a point of order. I have given the clerk a motion that I'd like to read out today in relation to this:

That, in relation to the study of the role and challenges of women—

which is what we're talking about today—

employed by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Committee schedule additional hearings and invite current and/or former female employees of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police who are prepared to share their personal stories and commentary in this regard, and that the hearings be scheduled as soon as the Committee's work plan permits.

I consulted with the clerk last week, and I'll ask if she would now hand that out to the committee members.

This is a good week. It's National Victims of Crime Awareness Week, and I think it's very appropriate that we listen to the commissioner and have additional meetings with regard to this very important issue. Many of these women, who I think some of you have been hearing from as well as I have, are not looking for legal challenges and so on. They want an opportunity to be heard so that they have a chance to ensure that changes will come.

We know that Commissioner Paulson wants to see changes, and I think all of us do. I think it's really important and appropriate that the status of women committee show that kind of leadership and provide an opportunity for some of the women who want to share their personal stories to come before us, so that we can work with the government and the RCMP to ensure they all have the tools to make the necessary changes.

I would ask that the committee vote on this so that we can move this issue forward on behalf of the thousands of women and young women—especially given the fact that we're doing a study on the economic prospects of young women. When you have Deputy Commissioner Callens, whose 21-year-old daughter wants to join the RCMP, and he says there has to be change—

4:30 p.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP Marie-Claude Morin

I apologize for interrupting you, Ms. Sgro. I understand very well why you wish to speak to this. However, that is not a point of order. This is not the appropriate time to table your motion. We will get back to your motion when you have the floor.

4:30 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Sgro Liberal York West, ON

My understanding was that I was to table it as a point of order at the beginning, Madam Chair. So if that was misinformation, I apologize.

4:30 p.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP Marie-Claude Morin

That is fine, there is no problem.

4:30 p.m.

NDP

Niki Ashton NDP Churchill, MB

I think that is an extremely important point. When will we be able to reconsider that motion?

4:30 p.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP Marie-Claude Morin

Ms. Sgro will be able to table her motion when she has the floor, that is to say during the fourth round. We will hear from the government members and the official opposition. Then we will go back to the government side and then to the Liberals. At that point, Ms. Sgro will be able to table her motion. Is that agreeable to you?

4:30 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Sgro Liberal York West, ON

I don't want to take away the time from the commissioner because he's here. I followed what I understood was exactly the process—that I table the motion at the beginning of the meeting. Now let's just make sure that it's tabled. I have introduced it.

4:30 p.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP Marie-Claude Morin

Ms. Truppe, you have the floor.

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

Susan Truppe Conservative London North Centre, ON

Thank you, Madam Chair.

I would like to point out that we only have an hour with the commissioner. We could use this as committee business, and stick to asking questions. From my experience with this committee, going through a motion is going to take up a great deal of time that the commissioner could be using to answer some of the questions we all have, when we could just put it for our next meeting.

4:30 p.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP Marie-Claude Morin

We will now hear from Mr. Paulson. Afterwards, the clerk will see what can be done regarding tabling your motion. We will get back to it at the end of the meeting.

Good afternoon, Mr. Paulson, and welcome to the Standing Committee on the Status of Women. I invite you to deliver your statement on the study of the role and challenges of women employed by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. You have 10 minutes.

April 23rd, 2012 / 4:35 p.m.

Commr Robert Paulson Commissioner, Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Thank you, Madam Chair.

I thank you for having given me the opportunity to be here this afternoon. I look forward to answering your questions and to discussing things with you.

I haven't prepared any opening comments, as is my practice. Frankly, I'm more inclined to want to have a discussion with you and answer your questions this afternoon on what is a very important subject, not just for me and the RCMP, but for all Canadians.

I'm very happy to be here. Thank you for the invitation. However I can assist your understanding of this significant issue, I'll be pleased to help.

4:35 p.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP Marie-Claude Morin

We shall now move to questions, and we will begin with the government side.

Ms. Truppe, you have seven minutes.

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

Susan Truppe Conservative London North Centre, ON

Thank you, Madam Chair, and thank you, Commissioner Paulson, for coming today to the status of women committee. It's very important to have you here. We appreciate the opportunity, across this floor, to ask you questions .

I'd like to get right to the issue, as I'm certain it's on the minds of other committee members as well. Like all Canadians, we are extremely concerned about the troubling reports of sexual harassment within the force. Women should be able to work in any employment, regardless of their careers, in a harassment-free work environment.

In consultation with you, the Minister of Public Safety asked the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP to investigate allegations of systematic failures to deal appropriately with sexual harassment within the force. It is imperative that all members of the RCMP be free to face the daily and expected challenges of a day's work without harassment and without fear of mistreatment by co-workers and superiors.

In the context of allegations of harassment, in your view, what is the fundamental problem?

4:35 p.m.

Commissioner, Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Commr Robert Paulson

Thank you for the question.

It is a complex problem we face. I think in terms of identifying the fundamental problem, there are a number of aspects I would identify for the committee. One is that the nature of police work and the manner in which police officers exercise their duties vis-à-vis citizens requires the management of authorities and special powers. To put it in context, the RCMP—and policing in general, I might say—has historically been mostly a male-dominated profession. We have had one career span of women in the RCMP, most notably Bev Busson, who was a commissioner of the RCMP. She was in the first troop of women, and she finished her career as the commissioner.

Thirty-five years is a long time, but I think what's happened is that the RCMP hasn't kept pace with society in general and how society has moved to provide systems and processes that insist upon equality.

I use the analogy, and I hope it's an appropriate one, that the RCMP is a bit of an aquarium. The fundamental problem isn't the number, although I'm happy to talk about the number of women we have in the force today and what we're doing to increase that number, because I think it's relevant. I also think how many women we have in supervisory roles is relevant.

It's really more about the water in the aquarium. It's the culture of the organization that has not kept pace. Frankly, I think it's the filtration system for the water in the aquarium. We haven't been able to change our practices and our policies, or provide systems that would permit women to thrive in the organization and contribute to policing, which they must do.

For the RCMP to be a successful policing organization, we must have women contributing in a significant way. I think how the organization manages authority and power.... I've said it publicly, and I'll say it again. I think the problem is bigger than simply the sexual harassment. It is the idea of harassment. The idea that we have a hierarchical organization overseeing men and women who have extraordinary powers in relation to their fellow citizens, which requires a fair degree of discipline.

I'll add just one more thing. The cases that have attracted, rightfully, the public's interest are cases in which supervisors and managers and leaders haven't act quickly enough in the first instance to address the transaction that's giving rise to what, over time, ends up being a significant problem. It's a fairly broad answer, but I think, fundamentally, that's what's going on.

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

Susan Truppe Conservative London North Centre, ON

Thank you. I appreciate that. I wasn't sure if you heard me.

You mentioned the number of women in supervisory roles. Just out of curiosity, how many women are on the force, and how many are in supervisory roles?

4:40 p.m.

Commissioner, Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Commr Robert Paulson

Let me give you the precise facts.

I'll be referring to what we talk about as regular members, which are sworn police officers. Right now, just over 20% of regular members are women. We have almost 4,000 women and about 15,000 men.

The rank breakdowns would be a little tedious, but I'm happy to go through that for you. Essentially what you see at the constable and corporal levels is about 20% to 22% representation.

As you go up in the ranks, within the NCO levels you have a decrease in the number of supervisors and non-commissioned officers, say sergeant and staff sergeant.

Entering into the commissioned ranks, which are the executive ranks, you have about 12% representation at the inspector and superintendent levels, and then a decrease at the senior executive ranks.

By way of specific answers, right now there is one deputy commissioner, Line Carbonneau, who is one of six or seven deputy commissioners. I think we have about three assistant commissioners out of approximately 20 in the rank.

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

Susan Truppe Conservative London North Centre, ON

Okay, that's great.

When you appeared before the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, you provided them with an explanation of how you intended to address these allegations. For the benefit of this committee, would you provide us with a description of your plans and how those plans are coming along?

4:40 p.m.

Commissioner, Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Commr Robert Paulson

Thank you.

I guess I can break it down into what I have done, what I'm doing, what I intend to do, and what others are doing. When I first was appointed, of course, it was at the height of the disclosures and controversy. My first steps were to centralize the process, recognizing that it—

4:40 p.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP Marie-Claude Morin

Excuse me, Mr. Paulson, but Ms. Truppe's time has expired. I will however let you finish your answer.

4:40 p.m.

Commissioner, Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Commr Robert Paulson

Okay. I centralized the whole process. I am able to oversee it from Ottawa. I had face-to-face direct meetings with my senior management team and my senior executive. I reduced it to writing, telling them what my expectations were of them, and what would happen if they didn't meet the expectations, trying to instill some accountability.

Right now, I am working with my partners in government at Public Safety and others to bring forward and recommend some changes to the RCMP regime for discipline, harassment, and grievances. I intend to pursue that process with a gender-based audit, which requires some explanation, sadly. I can maybe get to it if somebody else wants to know about it. Lastly, I'm providing all of the information to the CPC for their independent systemic review.