Statement by Independent Observer Mr. Paul Kennedy
July 11, 2016
To RCMP Commissioner Paulson
Independent Observer Report
Allegations of harassment and misconduct were levied in 2014 against a civilian and a regular member of the RCMP in relation to activities that took place between 2012 and December 2013 at the Explosive Training Unit (ETU), which is located at the Canadian Police College.
Subsequent to the investigation and resolution of these allegations by the RCMP, additional allegations surfaced which called into question the adequacy of the initial investigation and the handling of the resolution of the complaints under the provisions of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act.
The serious nature of these new allegations threw into question the ability of the RCMP, as an institution, to objectively investigate allegations of misconduct by its members. In response to these concerns the RCMP, under your direction as the Commissioner, undertook to conduct a thorough review of the handling of the initial allegations. This review included the initial investigation and all decisions made in relation thereto. Further, you directed that a new investigation be undertaken in respect of new allegations of misconduct that recently came to light in relation to the ETU.
To provide both yourself and the public with assurances that the review and investigation would be of the highest standards, you created the role of Independent Observer and invited me to fulfill the duties of that position. Specifically, you asked that I assess whether the work undertaken was "thorough, impartial and professional". Impartiality was to be understood " as the absence of prejudice or bias, actual or perceived, in the outcome of the investigation(s) and that reviews will be guided solely by the evidence".
Two separate teams were established to carry out these two functions. The first team of investigators from the RCMP National Division was tasked to investigate the new allegations of misconduct and to present its findings to the Commanding Officer of the National Division in his role as the Conduct Authority. The second team, which was a multidisciplinary team, was to undertake a complete review of all aspects of the handling of the initial allegations and was charged with identifying problems and making recommendations to address any weaknesses that were found.
Both of these teams provided weekly updates to a Steering Committee Co-Chaired by Deputy Commissioners, Peter Henschel and Daniel Dubeau. Membership of the committee included Ms. Rennie Marcoux, the Chief Strategic Policy and Planning Officer, and me.
In my role as Independent Observer, I attended all meetings of the Steering Committee and was provided with complete access to all information collected, analyzed and summarized by the multidisciplinary review team. I was afforded the opportunity to listen in on key meetings of the RCMP National Division investigative team and to read transcripts of all interviews that they conducted.
The meaning of words such as, "impartial, and professional" is clear and easily understood by some. To others they are merely an expression of an opinion and leave the reader with no clear understanding of the facts that caused one to express such an opinion. To give better meaning to those words and assess the weight afforded to any opinion that I would offer, I looked to see if these words were supported by meaningful actions.
Factors that I considered included:
- The level of seniority of the membership of the Steering Committee, the Investigative Team and the Multidisciplinary Team.
Two Deputy Commissioners co-chaired the Steering Committee. The third member was a highly experienced public servant at the Assistant Deputy Minister level. Both of the teams reporting to the Steering Committee were lead by an Assistant Commissioner.
- The composition of the membership of the two teams.
I found that it was appropriate in terms of the number of staff as well as the mix of their expertise and experience.
- The priority afforded the project.
The teams were dedicated solely to the completion of this specific task.
- The nature and quality of team discussions.
Discussion in which I participated was informed, constructive and fact based.
- Whether all members assigned to the project shared the same goal.
The underlying theme in all deliberations was to provide the best product possible so that both the Canadian public and the members of the RCMP would be assured that the RCMP was committed to the creation and maintenance of a healthy workplace, one free of harassment or misconduct.
With specific reference to the Steering Committee, despite the many other obligations impinging upon their time, members attended all meetings, were fully briefed and participated vigorously in all discussions.
The recommendations flowing from the work of the Process Review, if adopted, should enhance the credibility of the current regime for addressing future complaints. As the maintenance of a healthy workplace is an ongoing challenge the adoption of recommendations intended to provide early warning as to potential problems are of particular importance.
The work of the investigative team is nearing completion. Decisions will have to be made by the Commanding Officer, National Division, as the Conduct Authority. My role as Independent Observer is restricted to the work of the investigative team, which I found to be very professional. Based upon what I have observed the Conduct Authority will have an excellent fact base upon which to render his decisions.
In conclusion, I am pleased to advise you that I have found the work of the Steering Committee and the two teams that reported to it to have been thorough, impartial and professional. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to participate as the Independent Observer.
Paul E Kennedy
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