Anti-Black Racism and Racial Harassment in the RCMP

by Selwyn Pieters, B.A., LL.B.

Selwyn A. Pieters
Barrister & Solicitor
P.O. Box 518
31 Adelaide Street East
Toronto, Ontario. M5C 2J6
Tel: 416-787-5928 (work)
416-652-5055 (ABLE)

Selwyn Pieters is a Barrister & Solicitor. He has a special interest in Charter litigation, International and domestic human rights law and policy, administrative law and issues surrounding anti-Black racism including racial profiling.

"Canada's story is one in which not everyone's rights were protected under the law. We have not been free from discrimination. We have not been free from bias or unfairness. There have been blatant inequalities. ... There was a time not so long ago when if one wore a turban one could not serve in the RCMP." The Right Hon. Paul Martin, Prime Minister of Canada, February 16, 2005.

Racism is historic, endemic and pervasive in the RCMP

Some of the other examples of racism in the RCMP includes:

  • RCMP officers selling pins with racist themes, targeting francophone, Native Canadians, Sikhs, Blacks.
  • The RCMP, Toronto Drug Section, having on its bulletin board a "Nigger Form Application for Employment." The application ask for estimate of income from "theft", "welfare", "relief", "unemployment"; it lists the abilities of Blacks as "Veneral disease spreader", "rapist", "used hubcap salesman"; It then asked to "List your greates desire in life: (other than a white girl)"
  • Slurs where Black men are referred to in official RCMP correspondence as "drunken lay about" and Black women as "prolific child bearers",
  • posters of various depictions - A Black Male being referred to as "Spook"; another Black Male being referred to as "IRMA LA DOUCE" (Female); A Picture of RCMP Corporal Calvin Lawrence where he is referred to as "Blackie (Male) and sponsored by "Pet Watchers Dog Sitting."
  • At the RCMP, Toronto Drug Section, there was the pinup on the noticeboard of the image of a Black Male with exaggerated lips with various circles about his body with the caption "Official Running Nigger Target."
  • An RCMP Inspector writes to his superior asking whether he could hire a Black candidate, this was a problem he had seen before. His Superintendent replied that hopefully they would be able to reply to the Black applicant that he was unsuccessful in the entrance examination.

    "The RCMP... has not exactly been a haven for minorities with respect to hiring and promotion practices." Black RCMP Member

    As an association of members who have a long proud history in Law Enforcement it disturbs us that hostile treatment experience by our first Black Police Officers is still possibly being experienced today. It begs the disturbing question for us 'How do we honestly tell Black Parents to encourage and support their children when they want to become Police Officers?" Chris Bullen, President, Association of Black Law Enforcers in letter to Commissioner Guiliano Zacardelli, RCMP.

    "Racism is alive and well in the RCMP. A great number of people would like to say that Racism in the RCMP is past history. ... My Vision (is) to expose Bigots with Badges no matter what their rank. If there is a price to be paid then submit the bill. I have paid the bill in the past and it appears I am paying again. Silence is consent. Suffering is optional." Corporal C.G. Lawrence in letters to the Commissioner's Advisory Committee on Visible Minorities.

    Paul Carty and his Lawyer Selwyn Pieters

    Cst. Paul Carty is a Canadian of Black, Native American and Caucasian origins. He attended university and was a model student and football star with a promising career. On October 27, 2003 he joined the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (“RCMP”) as a Police Constable at the Milton / Toronto detachment. During the next 21 months Cst. Carty was subjected to very severe discrimination because of his Black and Native race. As a substantive result of the discrimination he has suffered, he has been demoted with a pay decrease, subjected to severe financial hardship, assaulted, verbally abused and psychologically and emotionally beaten all on account of his race.

    Cst. Paul Carty has commenced a lawsuit against the RCMP in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice at Toronto, alleging breach of his Charter rights, in particular section 15(1).

    Officer files $3.5-million lawsuit against RCMP CBC, 16 Aug 2006

    Canada: RCMP officer files $3.5M CNEWS

    Toronto RCMP officer alleges discrimination by colleagues, files $3.5M lawsuit, 16 Aug 2006

    RCMP officer alleges discrimination by colleagues, files $3.5M lawsuit Canadian Press, 16 Aug 2006

    RCMP face discrimination suit Toronto Sun, August 16, 2006

    Mountie Alleges Discrimination, Seeks $3.5M

    RCMP Sued The, 16 Aug 2006

    RCMP SuitGlobe and Mail, August 17, 2006

    Jean-Luc Morin

    Jean-Luc is Black, of Haitian origin, and Francophone. Morin joined the RCMP in October 1994. In January 1995, Mr. Morin successfully completed the RCMP recruit program at Depot in Regina, Saskatchewan. As a condition of employment he agreed that anytime after engagement he "may be required to serve anywhere in Canada." After six months of basic training at the RCMP Academy in Regina, he was assigned to the RCMP detachment at Burnaby. B.C. for Recruit Field Training (RFT). At the RCMP detachment at Burnaby. B.C. he was subjected to racial harassment from his Training Officers including being called "Kirby Pucket ass", "Obo," "or best offer" "No other RCMP officers had nicknames, they were all referred to as Constable, Corporal or by their family names," Morin testified before the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal. This racial harassment began two weeks after Mr. Morin arrived at the Detechment and continued until his termination from the RCMP in December 1997.

    Mr. Morin's first Training Officer, during his Recruit Field Training (RFT), monitored his work with a stopwatch. His second, Trainer, during RFT testified at the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal on February 16, 2004. The Trainer kept detailed logs on Mr. Morin's work for the two months that Mr. Morin worked under his guidance. What was striking is during that period that Trainer and a Supervisor met up with Mr. Morin on the street during a regular patrol and both of them were trying to force Mr. Morin out of the RCMP. They both told Mr. Morin that he was "not cut out to be a RCMP Officer" and he should look for employment elsewhere. Mr. Morin was upset at that meeting because of the remarks of the two officers. Mr. Morin's third trainer is alleged to have physically assaulted him.

    On the language issue: While the RCMP, like other areas of the Federal Public Service, is bilingual, the Constable (who was promoted to Corporal) did not communicate with Mr. Morin in French. In fact, Mr. Morin was directed to speak only in English. Even though English was his second language, his Trainer, who had seven years of police experience expected Mr. Morin to complete reports in 45 minutes because that is the time the Trainer took and expected that of his recruit, notwithstanding the fact that English was Mr. Morin's second language. Any and all of Mr. Morin's grammatical and spelling errors were carefully logged and recorded by his Trainer and Mr. Morin was required to rewrite reports in such cases. The first Trainer completed an assessment report of Mr. Morin that was completely devastating. This report was seen by the second Trainer, who did not contacted Mr. Morin to discuss the contents prior to taking charge of Mr. Morin's training.

    One could not help in listening to the testimony of the Second Trainer assigned to Mr. Morin's RFT but wonder whether Mr. Morin was being subject to unjustified criticism; was not being provided with the support required to meet his needs for job success as an RCMP Constable (note that two months into his RFT with his second Trainer his Trainer was suggesting that Mr. Morin look for work elsewhere; being over-supervised and over-monitored;being the subject of rude, condescending, abrupt and humiliating treatment.

    On has to wonder the effect of such treatment of a Constable by his Trainer to his self-esteem, self-confidence and dignity. One also has to wonder about the emotional distress such behavior can cause.

    Morin's complaint was heard by a panel of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal. See, decision in Jean-Luc Morin v. Attorney General (RCMP) Dated October 14, 2005.

    Press Coverage of Morin v. RCMP (The Montreal Gazette, Canadian Press, The Telegram, The Guardian, The Record, The Chronicle-Herald, Times-Colonist, The Province, Ottawa Citizen and Globe and Mail)
    RCMP target of human rights complaint CBC News
    Ex-Mountie suing RCMP for racial discrimination CTV News

    Corporal Calvin Lawrence

    Calvin Lawrence Human Rights Complaint against the RCMP-GRC Settled at the Human Rights Commission

    by Calvin Lawrence

    September 24, 2004:
    On the 20 Jan.02 I embarked on a painful journey for Justice and Correctness in Policing. I accused my employer, The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) of Racial Discrimination and lodged a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission. The complaint has been mediated and a settlement agreed upon. The details of the settlement must remain confidential.

    I had a great deal of time to ponder my situation during this conflict. When I went to bed at night I would of think; If they knew my father (6th generation Black Canadian) was wounded in World War II, would they have treated me in this negative manner? Would they have sent joking e-mails if they knew I was grieving my mother's sickness followed by her death? Did they go home to their families and brag how they destroyed my career? Did it make them feel powerful to do what they did? I know that I will never have the answers to those questions.

    I do know however, that I conquered isolation, anger, fear and defeat. Today I know that anything is possible if I demonstrate courage. Today, I stand for something!

    Today, I masde a difference.
    Calvin Lawrence has done extensive consulting work and presentations on police-race relations.

    For information more on Calvin Lawrence v. RCMP Cpl. Lawrence can be contacted at 613-864-5551

    Corporal Calvin Lawrence have returned to work at RCMP Headquarters after being off on stress leave due to the deleterious effect of the discrimination he encountered in the RCMP. Cpl Lawrence is a 7th generation Black Canadian from Nova Scotiia. He has been a police officer for 33 plus years. His career began in 1969 - 1978 with the Halifax City Police and 1978 to Present RCMP. Cpl. Lawrence has worked for the Prime Minster’s Protection Detail in Ottawa and as a Facilitator/Instructor, Applied Sciences, RCMP Depot Division, in Regina, Saskatchewan. He has also worked in the Diversity Management Branch.

    Cpl. Lawrence has taught courses and lectured to police officers and correctional services country-wide and has received high praise even from Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.

    Cpl. Lawrence was discriminated against by the people who were managing his career. One career manager told a Commander that he will “try and keep Cal off you back.?

    Calvin Lawrence experiences of racism and discrimination in the RCMP is set out in an insightful article by Stephen Kimber Has the message really changed? The Daily News (Halifax), April 27, 2003, p. 19.

    Mr. Uppal, President of Canadian Alliance for Race Relations commented in an interview with Charlie Greenwell (CJOH Ottawa TV) Lawrence case is crying out for justice. Lawyer David Yazbeck stated that Lawrence "career has taken a nose dive ever since he filed his first complaint.

    If Cpl. Lawrence, and as seen below, Cpl. Nolan, who were veteran RCMP members were exposed to racial harassment and discrimination throughout their career in the RCMP/GRC - then the treatment that Mr. Morin alleges is plausible and highly credible. Fortunately, Morin has taken his fight to uncharted territory for the RCMP the Human Rights Tribunal.

    An RCMP officer with Prime Minister Jean Chretien's protection staff says he was denied promotion because he is black. Ottawa Citizen, July 26, 1994. pg. A.5
    An RCMP officer with Prime Minister Jean Chretien's protection staff says he was denied promotion because he is black. The Windsor Star, July 26, 1994. pg. D.8

    Corporal Lynell Nolan (Retired)

    Corporal Lynell Nolan (Rtd.), formerly of the Commercial Crime Section, Newmarket RCMP Detachment, experienced racism from the RCMP in terms of how he was treated and being denied promotion. It took 14 years for Mr. Nolan to be promoted. "Although this seemed to be a lot of years of service for a first promotion, at the time it was still considered an early promotion."

    Mr. Nolan was recommended for the officer candidate program - which sucess would have put him to the rank of inspector. He was rejected because "I was advised that 'I had come on too strongly in the area of projecting myself as a role model for visible minorities.' This was told to me by the head of the mini board, Supt. Brownlee."

    Cpl. Nolan's instances of discriminatory treatment were numerous and according to him "gives an understanding why Blacks/Visible Minorities do not proceed to higher ranks in the organization. Supervisors and Line Officers are usually to be blamed for the actions and sometimes inactions that create such poisonous environments in the workplace whereby visible minority members become disillusioned and merely await the time that they can retire without a penalty on their pensions... Corporate Management.. is doing very little to correct the injustices..."

    Cpl Nolan is now a Senator in St. Kitts/ Nevis.

    Lynell Nolan is the author of the recently published Being Black in Scarlet, copies of which could be obtained by contacting the Association of Black Law Enforcers.

    Other Current complaints of RCMP Staff

    Screen for Racial Bias November 12, 2004, THE STARPHOENIX (SASKATOON), PAGE: A15 (FORUM)

    Brown, J. v. Royal Canadian Mounted Police Discrimination based on marital status - complaint upheld.

    Fight for job left Mountie stressed Denied promotion, she won a human-rights discrimination appeal -- but paid a big price May 07, 2004

    Officer files discrimination complaint: new twists delay disciplinary hearing against regional constable to Jan. 10 Record, December 09, 2004

    Regional Police Officer accuses force of racism December 08, 2004

    Racism a fact for blacks, study finds Globe and Mail September 30, 2003

    Brown v. Royal Canadian Mounted Police RCMP Found to Have Discriminated Against Member in Promotions

    M?is complaint against RCCMP that the RCMP terminated his employment because of his national or ethnic origin referred to Human Rights Trinunal

    Reveal details of deal: Toews - Mounties must reassure public

    RCMP reaches settlement over sex-assault allegations Mounties settle sex case

    Accused Mountie on job

    Authorities secretive on complaints

    RCMP Resolves Harassment Case: "The RCMP acknowledges with thanks the personal and professional commitment shown by the four members in coming forth with the allegations. These unselfish acts have enhanced the ability of the RCMP to continue in its resolve that harassment will not be tolerated" - Can we have a similar acknowledgment in the J-L Morin case and get the matter settled.

    Former jail guard wins lawsuit against RCMP CBC July 09, 2004

    Ex RCMP officer's book on racism Share Newspaper, June 24, 2004

    Doreen Guy Retirement Speech alleged Systemic Racial Discrimination in the Toronto Police Service

    Racism forced me to retire, black officer says

    Ali Tahmourpour

    Rejection of RCMP cadet needs review, court says Globe and Mail, April 08, 2005
    Former RCMP cadet wins legal battle against human rights Commission April 08, 2005
    Tahmourpour v. Canada (Solicitor General) 2005 FCA 113, April 06, 2005
    Tahmourpour v. Canada (Solicitor General) 2004 FC 585, Cadet alleging discrimination based on religion
    Muslim cadet alleges RCMP violated rights Toronto Star, August 26, 2003
    Press Coverage of Morin v. RCMP (The Montreal Gazette, Canadian Press, The Telegram, The Guardian, The Record, The Chronicle-Herald, Times-Colonist, The Province, Ottawa Citizen and Globe and Mail)
    RCMP target of human rights complaint CBC News
    Ex-Mountie suing RCMP for racial discrimination CTV News

    Dave McLeod

    Cop union calls for apology Share, April 07, 2005
    ACLC supports Black officers Share, April 07, 2005
    ACLC supports Black officers Share, April 07, 2005
    CRRF Praised T.O. Black Officers Share, April 07, 2005
    Apologize For What? Share, April 07, 2005
    Racism reality on force: report Metro, March 31, 2005
    Next police chief must act to stop racial profiling, black officers group says Globe and Mail, April 1, 2005 Page A13
    Toronto Star, April 01, 2005
    Association of Black Law Enforcers Press Release March 31, 2005
    Racial profiling exists ; Promises of internal probe fell flat Toronto Star, March 31, 2005
    Inspector 'profiled', investigated Share, March 31, 2005; Black cop 'profiled' by colleague: ABLE CBC, March 31, 2005
    Officer quit police over race
    Speech at dinner criticized force Claims colleague used racial slur

    RCMP officer (Superintendent Ben Soave) faces harassment complaints

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    This page was created on August 07, 2003 and updated on April 14, 2005.
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