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Top RCMP officer: Firing process is ‘absolute madness’

The Canadian Press

The man in charge of the RCMP in British Columbia says the laborious process of firing or even suspending Mounties without pay after serious misconduct is “absolute madness,” but making changes requires a commitment from the force’s political masters.

RCMP Assistant Commissioner Craig Callens said the RCMP Act is long overdue for change to allow local management to hire and fire like other employers in the country.

For example, Callens said an application was made years ago to suspend Cpl. Benjamin “Monty” Robinson without pay, but the request was rejected at RCMP headquarters in Ottawa.

Robinson was convicted last month of obstruction of justice in the death of a young motorcyclist in Delta, B.C. He admitted to taking two shots of vodka to “calm his nerves” after the accident and before he gave himself up to investigating officers, but the court heard testimony that Robinson would have known those actions can be used to cover up drunk driving.

A year before the traffic accident, Robinson was the senior officer in charge when Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski was jolted several times with an RCMP Taser and died at Vancouver’s airport.

Robinson and three fellow officers still face perjury charges, accused of lying under oath in that case.

Commissioner Thomas Braidwood concluded in his final report into Dziekanski’s death that the officers deliberately misrepresented their actions during the investigations and during their testimony to his inquiry.

“I want him (Robinson) dismissed from the RCMP,” Callens told a forum at the Radio Television Digital News Association annual provincial gathering on the weekend.

“Now he’s convicted of obstruction of justice and so I say to myself, a reasonable-minded Canadian, a British Columbian, is outraged by that. I’m outraged by that.”

The RCMP Act gives Callens the power to suspend an officer if he considers the officer’s actions serious misconduct. He must get approval from headquarters in Ottawa if he wants an officer suspended without pay.

But Callens said the process becomes adversarial, similar to the criminal justice system.

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