RCMP Management, Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?
RCMP boss, Commissioner Bob Paulson, was invited to attend Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School in Guelph, Ontario to accept a leadership award and commemorate the 200th anniversary of Sir John A MacDonald's birthday.
Last year, Commissioner Paulson used the cuckoo gesture when referring to RCMP members suffering from the debilitating effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Three months later, Paulson issued a quasi apology acknowledging that he "made a sound and gesture" related to members with psychological issues but insisted that his gesture and sound were misinterpreted as meaning he did not care about psychological illnesses and that nothing could be further from the truth. He stated that he knows full well the impact that work-related stress can have on an individual and their family . The cuckoo gesture is a universally known insult and not easily misinterpreted by those of us with PTSD.
Interestingly, not one senior commissioned officer under his command formally complained about the behaviour before or after the apology which speaks volumes about the management culture existing in the senior ranks of the RCMP in Ottawa. The RCMP Act requires that potential breaches of the Code of Conduct be reported. A constable would normally be suspended from duty for such behaviour pending the outcome of an RCMP Act investigation demonstrating that the laws are not universally applied and that rank embeds privilege.
At least 30 RCMP employees committed suicide over the past eight years, many of whom suffered from PTSD and depression related symptoms. Corporal Ron Francis was one of the latest noble RCMP employees who lost the battle with PTSD. Hundreds more with PTSD like me struggle daily to mask the destructive effects of this illness perpetrated by threats, intimidation and harassment by some senior RCMP officers. The Commissioner's use of the cuckoo gesture was incredibly damaging.
Given Commissioner Paulson's invitation to a secondary school to accept a leadership award, maybe he and his management team could learn a valuable lesson or two from the TV show "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader" as follows:
- 5th graders know the cuckoo gesture is an immature insult to all people.
- 5th graders know they must speak out against bullying behaviour.
- 5th graders know that our national leaders should lead by example.
- 5th graders know that deplorable acts against any societal group must be held accountable.
- 5th graders know that a genuine apology does not transfer blame onto the victims.
Mel Young, Retired Staff Sergeant