The recent decision by the federal and provincial governments to flatly reject the claims of sexual harassment by RCMP Corporal Catherine Galliford and in so doing to viciously attack her character and credibility is troubling in the extreme. It has already been publicly acknowledged that a problem of gender inequality and harassment exists in the RCMP, along with all sorts of soporific claims that they are working to change the culture. Yet this decision clearly shows that while it’s easy to pay lip service to a difficult issue, when push comes to shove the good old boys lock arms and kick the victim.
This case exemplifies the cognitive dissonance we have come to expect from the institutions that should be the pillars of a strong and just society. They say one thing, but then they do another. They claim to be working on fixing the problem and then they go and make it worse. For once it would be nice to see these institutions simply accept the blame instead of using a host of lawyers on attack dog setting to mitigate the potential verdict and damages. For me, and for many others, it is quite clear that Corporal Galliford deserves support and an apology, not the demeaning character attacks she is receiving from the government lawyers.
Our legal system is barely functioning these days, due to underfunding and understaffing on the one hand, and pigheaded decisions such as this that tie up resources on specious court battles. Can you imagine a world where people and institutions started to take some responsibility and simply own up to their mistakes without going through a ridiculous dance of denial, supported by as many crafty lawyers as can be bought to try to prove that white is black and black is white? While we can’t expect individuals to give up their rights to a legal defense, it would be refreshing to see a government or corporation step up and admit their culpability at the outset and save us all the time and expense of unnecessary court proceedings. If we do ever start seeing such a phenomenon, it might even reduce the level of cynicism we all feel today. For now, I remain as cynical as ever that anything like gender equality is remotely possible in the RCMP, and the governments that are enabling this shameful behavior.
David Trudel © 2012