Dec 08 2011 OTTAWA - Bob Paulson was installed today as 23rd commissioner of the RCMP and already he has instituted sweeping new measures aimed at sexual harassment, which alleged victims say plagues the national police force.
Paulson says one of the first things he did after taking on the commissioner's job last month was to call what he described as an "extraordinary'' meeting of the top brass.
"I called all my deputies together,'' he said after a colourful ceremony at an old hangar alongside Ottawa's Pearson airport. "We discussed the state of play with respect to harassment.
"We've centralized the oversight and the management of the process. ... so that it affords me and my senior partners the ability to be able to track and monitor just what the cases are and how they're moving on timelines.''
He said he's also taken measures to increase the number of female recruits at the RCMP training depot in Regina to 35 per cent of the contingent, well above the labour-market availability of 26 or 27 per cent.
"We need to increase women coming into the force,'' he said.
He also wants to see more women in the senior ranks.
"My view is, we bring more women into our decision-making process at the executive level, we have a much more representative decision-making body in the force.''
Several female RCMP officers have come forward since Cpl. Catherine Galliford went public in November with allegations of harassment and sexual harassment within the force in British Columbia.
Cpl. Elisabeth Mary Couture filed a lawsuit last week in B.C.'s Supreme Court, naming as defendants the province's public safety minister and solicitor general, the federal attorney general and three members of the RCMP's E Division.
According to court documents, Couture began to experience daily symptoms of anxiety and panic and went off duty sick because of the mental suffering and harassment she endured while working with the B.C.-based drugs and organized-crime awareness service.
"It's outrageous, some of this behaviour that's being alleged and being identified as unsatisfactory,'' said Paulson. "I think I made myself quite clear on that.
"That's not the RCMP that I joined and it's not the RCMP I will lead. I won't lead an RCMP like that. We're going to sort that out.''
A sea of dignitaries and uniformed Mounties filled the old military hangar as officials thanked outgoing commissioner William Elliott, who has moved on to a job at Interpol.
Elliott presided over the national police force during one of the stormiest periods in its storied history.
He weathered fallout from an incident in which a Polish man died after being zapped with an RCMP Taser at the Vancouver airport. Elliott also endured a revolt by senior officers over his brusque management style.
The Quebec-born Paulson joined the Mounties in 1986. He served 19 years throughout British Columbia, working on unsolved murders, aboriginal and community policing, and organized-crime probes.
He came to Ottawa headquarters in 2005, serving in a series of posts, most recently deputy commissioner for federal policing.
Paulson, 52, has three children and relaxes by jogging and reading.