BY RATTAN MALL
REACTING to the news that women who experienced gender- or sexual-orientation-based harassment and discrimination while working or volunteering with the RCMP on or after September 16, 1974, may be eligible for compensation under a new proposed settlement, former solicitor general of B.C. Kash Heed lashed out at the RCMP.
He told The VOICE on Tuesday: “The entire organization needs to be imploded right now and completely rebuilt from the ground up or the top down – whatever metaphor you want to use to describe it – because this is a completely broken organization that cannot be fixed with its current culture, structure, leadership.”
The total value of the settlement is estimated to be $100 million dollars, but the total will depend on how many eligible claims are received. Individual compensation will not be impacted by the number of claims received.
“This settlement is an acknowledgement of the pain experienced by women who were subjected to harassment and sexual assault while working or volunteering with the RCMP. No amount of money can compensate these women for the harms that they’ve endured, but the settlement gives a voice to their experiences. The settlement is a reminder to these women that they’re not alone and, we hope, will give these women the closure they deserve,” said Angela Bespflug, class counsel, Klein Lawyers LLP.
Heed told me: “The behaviour and the culture of this organization is disgusting. They are incapable of fixing all of the problems that have come to the forefront yet again. We had a settlement with the original minimum of $100 million from class action a few years ago. That settlement alone could reach $200 million to $300 million from what I have learned. It could also even go higher as additional complaints on that action are laid.”
He added: “The RCMP came out with a statement with this recent class action suit and talked about the fact that they’re a changed organization. I can tell you from a discussion I had with a young officer the other day stationed in Surrey this is highly doubtful. They said to me that they’re absolutely sickened by the use of the ‘N’ word by members, supervisors and commissioned officers. This is a recent, recent discussion I had. So if we think given the fact that they’ve been penalized over and over again for their behaviour that they have fixed the behaviour, we are wrong.”
Heed told The VOICE: “From what I understand they’re more class action suits coming against the organization from other people that have been part of that organization for many, many years.”
He added: “At the end of the day, I am sad to say we are probably going to be looking at close to a $1 billion settlement and we don’t even know if we’ve fixed the problem. They don’t care as an organization because this is taxpayers’ money. For years I have been raising the issue based on the culture, the leadership of that organization and how fraught with problems it is and continues to be; yet we have nobody – and I am talking of the politicians – that want to take this on, hold them to account again and again and again. Nobody’s stepped up saying ‘enough is enough!’”
Heed pointed out: “They really are not too concerned about it because it’s not their money per se. Again, this is taxpayers’ money. It’s not coming out of their pockets. It’s not coming from their wages. This is taxpayers’ money. And a very, very important point – let’s just talk about these last two class action suits – from what I understand nobody has been held to account for the copious amount of allegations that have been put forward by members and now, civilian staff. Nobody’s been held to account.”
They are an organization full of words that do not have action attached to them. So when they come out with a statement after the recent class action suit settlement and say they’ve already made changes – and the example I gave you on he use of the “N” word within the organization – I can tell you they have not made the changes that they are holding out to have made within the organization.”
THE RCMP and Class Counsel Klein Lawyers LLP and Higgerty Law – on behalf of the plaintiffs Cheryl Tiller, Mary Ellen Copland and Dayna Roach – have reached a settlement in the class action Tiller et al. v. Her Majesty the Queen (Federal Court Action No. T-1673-17) which was filed on behalf of females who worked or volunteered with the RCMP or on RCMP premises. On July 5, the class action was certified by the Federal Court on consent of the parties. The settlement is subject to approval by the Federal Court. The approval hearing will take place on October 17 at the Federal Court in Vancouver.
The settlement includes a confidential independent claims process led by female assessors and a compensation scheme for eligible class members ranging from $10,000 to $220,000 for a proven claim, as determined by an assessor.
(Class Members are all current and former living municipal employees, regional district employees, employees of non-profit organizations, volunteers, commissionaires, supernumerary special constables, consultants, contractors, public service employees, students, members of integrated policing units and persons from outside agencies and police forces who are female or publicly identify as female and who were supervised or managed by the RCMP or who worked in an RCMP controlled workplace during the class period, excluding individuals who are primary class members in Merlo and Davidson v. Her Majesty the Queen, Federal Court Action Number T-1685-16 and class members in Ross, Roy, and Satalic v. Her Majesty the Queen, Federal Court Action Number T-370-17 or Association des membres de la police montée du Québec inc., Gaétan Delisle, Dupuis, Paul, Lachance, Marc v. HMTQ, Quebec Superior Court Number 500-06-000820-163. The class period is September 16, 1974, to July 5, 2019.)