Female Canadian Mounties Receive An Apology After Decades Of Sexual Harassment

Photo: Stuart Forster/REX/Shutterstock.
Last week, the women of Canada's Royal Mounted Police received an apology for over 40 years of sexual harassment.

The BBC reported that on Thursday, Royal Canadian Mounted Police Commissioner Bob Paulson publicly and tearfully apologized for the force's "shameful conduct" and inaction to address women's ongoing complaints and claims.

"Some of these women left the RCMP, heartbroken, disillusioned, and angry," Commissioner Paulson said. "Others stayed and were forced to find ways to cope with this inexcusable condition since they did not see an organization that was willing to change."

According to two class action lawsuits, women have endured abuse and sexual harassment since 1974, when they were first allowed to join Canada's Royal Mounted Police.

Women make up 20% of Canada's national police force, which maintains federal, provincial, and territorial law enforcement across its provinces, territories, and indigenous lands. The two lawsuits represent around 500 plaintiffs. Up to 1,000 past and present female officers and civilian staffers may ultimately file claims as part of the settlement, which is expected to reach $100 million Canadian dollars, or roughly $75 million USD.

In addition to overt harassment, The New York Times reports female officers and staffers had also reported being the targets of sexual pranks and male officers ignoring their requests for backup.

Lead plaintiff and former officer Linda Gillis Davidson told the Times she first joined the force in 1985 and immediately encountered multiple unwanted sexual advances and experienced sexual harassment. "I love my flag, I love my country, and I loved my job — I left way too early,” she said.

Janet Merlo, who served on the force for 20 years starting in 1991, expressed gratitude for Commissioner Paulson's public contrition and optimism for his expressed commitment to culture change.

"I have total faith that this is the beginning of a new era," Merlo told the BBC. "Hopefully, a better era."

More from Global News