OTTAWA — Canada’s top Mountie pledged Tuesday to increase the number of new female recruits, and to promote more women to senior ranks.
RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson made the commitment during testimony before the House of Commons status of women committee, the second of two parliamentary committees at which he appeared.
Paulson’s blitz of Parliament Hill followed the release of a report two weeks ago by the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP calling for fundamental changes to the way the Mounties handle harassment complaints.
The commission stopped short of identifying a systemic problem of sexual harassment within the force, despite intense publicity about difficulties and grievances.
Paulson said he wants half of all new recruits to be women within two years to help reach the goal of having a national police force that is 30 per cent female by 2025.
Paulson stuck largely to a serious message track that focused on weeding out harassment of men and women, while preserving the integrity of the Canada’s much-maligned national police force.
He appeared to drop his guard slightly when asked by one MP to offer his opinion on what women bring to policing.
“The value of having women in a police role is that you take the interaction with a citizen away from the force dynamic, and you put it in the behaviour, thoughtful dynamic. It is quite a powerful force to be reckoned with,” Paulson said.
“We have this sort of traditional notion that we are wrestling people, jumping on people, putting handcuffs on people,” he added.
“The woman’s view of the world is a much more powerful, persuasive force than just an arm around the neck.”
Paulson might have gone further, but the NDP chair of the committee, enforced a strict time allocation rule.
“Mr. Paulson, I’m sorry I’ll have to cut you off,” said Marie-Claude Morin.
Ian McPhail, interim chairman of the complaints body, said in earlier testimony Tuesday the RCMP needs to do more to encourage men and women to come forward with complaints of harassment.
He said it is possible that many complaints likely go unreported because they lead to internal investigations that can take several years to resolve.