RCMP systematically discriminated against women, lawyer says
Published Monday, June 1, 2015 3:01PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, June 1, 2015 11:08PM EDT
A lawyer is arguing in a B.C. court this week that the RCMP systematically discriminated against women and a class action lawsuit against the federal government should go ahead.
David Klein told reporters Monday that RCMP misconduct has occurred “over a period of months or years,” was committed “by multiple perpetrators” and was “ignored by management on multiple occasions.”
Klein’s client, Janet Merlo of Nanaimo, B.C., is seeking to represent 362 women from nine provinces.
Merlo told reporters “too many lives have been destroyed” and that gender discrimination, including lewd comments, ended her policing career.
“My marriage fell apart, my health was falling apart and I had no other choice than to leave it,” she said.
Klein said that women who make it into the RCMP are “strong physically (and) well-balanced emotionally, or else they wouldn’t have made it through.”
“They came in strong and they left broken -- demoralized, depressed, with broken relationships and shattered careers,” he added.
Klein said the government has not taken individual women who have sued them seriously.
In Parliament on Tuesday, NDP MP Rosane Doré Lefebvre said the government has “taken too long to deal with these cases of sexual harassment.”
Doré Lefebvre asked in question period what the minister responsible for the RCMP will do to “quickly put an end to this intolerable situation.”
Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney responded that the government has a zero-tolerance policy on sexual harassment.
“Members of the RCMP must feel safe and I’m confident the leadership will face these challenges with the appropriate tools and structures that are currently in place,” Blaney said.
The certification hearing is scheduled for five days, but Klein said a decision could take months.
Klein said he has not yet asked for a specific amount of compensation, but that the women will likely be seeking millions of dollars in compensation.