Tomorrow, Friday, May 13th, is Catherine Galliford’s last day as a member of the RCMP. She will officially be pensioned off the staffing rolls. It comes ten years after she left the office for the last time and being diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Galliford is well known in BC from being the face of the RCMP for many years as a Media Liaison Officer (MLO) from her days in Coquitlam, to the Pickton serial killer investigation during the long days of searching his pig farm for DNA evidence in the 65 plus Missing Women’s case that dominated headlines nationally and internationally. She was also the spokesperson for the RCMP when the Air India terrorist attack case was being prepared for trial and during the prosecution.
She was a poster child for RCMP recruiting. Attractive, fit and female.
She’ll retire with a Corporal’s pension and whatever big number in cash the RCMP had to come up with to settle her sexual harassment lawsuit filed back in the Spring of 2012. She fired the first shot in the Fall of 2011 in the war against the misogynist culture in the RCMP when she used her profile to go public about it all.
The RCMP denied everything of course. But they did settle last week for a big number because there is no possible chance the RCMP brass wanted to test her evidence in open court. Not in this lifetime or the next.
Her allegations made against three senior RCMP officers, a Force doctor and a member of the Vancouver Police Department were explosive. Her standing up against the Force encouraged many others to come forward including a class action lawsuit that has been launched involving over 400 female members at last count.
The RCMP brass did what they always do in cases like this. They deny, try to blame the complainant, then they try to trash the complainant, drag their feet, delay and more delay, try and force the aggrieved person to drop it because their pockets aren’t as deep as the federal government and in the end, instead of testing the evidence in a court of law, they settle for a big bag of taxpayer’s dollars. All, they would say if they actually gave a comment after the settlement, which they did not, would be to protect the reputation of the RCMP. The unwritten rule in the RCMP, is, whatever else you may do, don’t tarnish the buffalo, referring to the buffalo head at the centre of their logo.
I have long said the RCMP is 143 years of tradition unhampered by progress. And I say that as a former member and a member of the RCMP Veteran’s Association. And they proved that again in the Galliford case.
When one files a lawsuit, one files a statement of claim. The defendant files a statement of defence. Lawyers for each side hold discoveries of pertinent witnesses and either a settlement is agreed or the matter goes to trial.
Galliford was forced to participate in 11 discoveries. There were lawyers in the room representing the federal government, individual members, the provincial government, the Attorney General and, well you get the idea. The only lawyer in the room who wasn’t being paid by various governments was Barry Carter who Galliford was paying out of her life savings. She lost her house in the process and had to move in to her mom’s basement. Despite all of this she persevered and survived somewhat intact. And good for her I say.
In Galliford’s case, she wasn’t talking about a fellow constable slapping her butt or making a ribald joke. No, nothing like that. These were her bosses, older men in positions of power who did their level best to get her into bed. And, in her words, “When they are trying to get into your pants it becomes an obsession. It seems to consume them.”
The worst example of it was an Inspector, at the time in charge of a different section, who managed to ingratiate himself into the Air India file and begin travelling to, ostensibly, meet with family members of the victims and demanding she travel along. Now, there is no earthly reason in a file like that, that the MLO should travel all over Hell’s half-acre with a ranking officer to meet with family members of victims. No, this was just another case of a lecherous man in a position of power manipulating a situation to try and get her into his hotel room.
On one trip to Montreal, they were having dinner when – surprise – they were met at the restaurant by another, more senior officer, also from BC, who, during the conversation, suggested they re-convene at one of that city’s nefarious strip clubs. Needless to say Galliford declined and she returned to her hotel room, alone.
It’s shocking really. Galliford knew she had to, in her words, “play along to a point”.
“I knew that, for my career sake, I had to play along to a point. If I went to anyone to complain about it I knew I would be the one who was destroyed. So I tried to out-maneuver them,” she said to me earlier today.
By the time she left work she said, “If another officer asked me to sit on their lap I was going to become homicidal.”
The worst part of all of this is that everyone knows, they snigger and giggle but they condone it. The RCMP came to allow women in the fold rather late in the game. I was in Regina training in 1975 and only the second female troop was going through then. In contrast, VPD had female officers for decades before that.
But that doesn’t excuse the culture of the RCMP. Bob Paulson became Commissioner shortly after Galliford went public with all of this. He has mouthed all the pat phrases, all the platitudes saying there is no place for harassment and bullying in the workplace. Yet he, as Commissioner, is bullying the entire membership in ending the members’ advocates, the Staff Relations Representative program, by decree, and instituting something called the Members Workplace Advisors program. SRR’s had privilege in that anything members told them could be kept confidential in perpetuity. Not anymore.
The SRRs are done as of May 16th. The new program was initiated on May 9th. No consulting, just Commissioner’s decree. And the SRR’s have been ordered not to speak out. After all, no one may tarnish the buffalo.
As for Galliford, I wish her well. I have known her since 1997 when she was the MLO in Coquitlam Detachment. When I spoke to her earlier today she had an upbeat tone I hadn’t heard from her in years. I hope she is able to heal and be satisfied that she fought the bastards and won.