RCMP corporal chided for criticizing the force’s response to Moncton shootings
By The Canadian Press
MONCTON, N.B. — An RCMP corporal who was friends with three Mounties killed in New Brunswick says he has been rebuked for publicly calling on the force’s top brass to start listening to its officers.
By The Canadian Press
Cpl. Patrick Bouchard said he received a document stating that comments he made Sept. 29 were unacceptable, though he disagrees.
“I really don’t believe I did anything wrong by speaking out about the truth,” Bouchard said in a phone interview. “I challenged the senior brass and their lack of support, and I’m being taken to task.”
Bouchard spoke out last month following a New Brunswick judge’s decision finding the RCMP guilty of failing to provide its members with adequate weapons and training in the 2014 Moncton shootings that killed Constables Fabrice Gevaudan, Dave Ross and Doug Larche and wounded two other officers.
The 15-year veteran, who is stationed at the detachment in Miramichi, N.B. said the decision exposed the divide between RCMP’s top ranks and Mounties on the ground, noting a conspicuous absence of senior managers in the courtroom.
Bouchard said a performance log indicated that due to his comments, which had been televised, he did not meet the “basic competencies” required by his position. The RCMP’s code of conduct requires its members “behave in a manner that is not likely to discredit the Force.”
The 40-year-old corporal said he has not been disciplined for the comments, but he feels further consequences may be in the works.
The Canadian Press could not immediately reach the RCMP to comment on the matter, but the force told the CBC last week that it does not comment on internal issues involving employees.
The RCMP said the force was represented by counsel when the decision was handed down in a Moncton court, and would not comment on whether senior managers intended to show up at the sentencing hearing in November.
“There’s no change in the RCMP. I’m hopeful that there can be change, but senior brass not showing up … demonstrates to me that the willingness to change might not be there,” said Bouchard.
“It would have helped a lot if you want to start the healing process if someone from senior management could have shown up and showed that our safety, our security, our health, is top priority for them.”
While many of his concerns about officer safety have fallen on deaf ears, Bouchard said, the force has taken some steps to improve equipment and training for its members in the wake of Justin Bourque’s shooting rampage in June 2014.
The C8 carbine rifle was a central focus of the Labour Code trial. Several Mounties who responded to the shooting testified that they felt outgunned by Bourque, who roamed the streets of a Moncton neighbourhood, targeting police officers.
In his ruling, Judge Leslie Jackson was harshly critical of how long it took the RCMP to equip its officers with carbine rifles ahead of the Moncton attack.
“It’s a hard pill to swallow for me, because three of my friends had to die before we got real movement on this,” said Bouchard.
Bouchard said he never intended to “point fingers” at senior management, but rather, he wanted to shed light on issues within the RCMP in hopes of starting a candid conversation throughout the force’s ranks.
“It’s still at the forefront of what we deal with every day, and bringing those issues up the chain, I don’t know where there’s the disconnect,” he said.
Bouchard said he has been overwhelmed with messages of support from other rank-and-file officers who share his sentiments.
The response has only bolstered Bouchard’s resolve to speak out on behalf of those who keep Canadians safe, regardless of what it might mean for his professional prospects.
“One career is a very small price to pay for bringing light to these issues,” he said. “(My friends) didn’t have to die. If the roles would have been reversed, there is no doubt in my mind that Fabrice, Dave or Doug would be talking about it.”
– Adina Bresge in Halifax
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