EDITORIAL: A most-needed confidence boost

The anti-sexual-harassment stance taken by B.C. RCMP's Assistant Commissioner Craig Callens is a welcome indication of change.

The anti-sexual-harassment stance taken by new Assistant Commissioner Craig Callens – head of the RCMP in B.C. – is a welcome indication that winds of change are sweeping through the force.

Late last year, when B.C. RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Catherine Galliford shared her own allegations of being harassed by male colleagues, it was the cue for a series of similar allegations from other female officers.

Callens, RCMP E Division commander, is quick to say most female officers he has heard from have had a positive experience in the force. But when an officer as highly placed as Callens says he is “not persuaded” the force has responded fully or quickly enough to allegations of sexual harassment – and that “one case is too many” – it’s a telling statement indeed.

On this issue, the presence of smoke has seldom been acknowledged as evidence of fire by the force.

The appointment of Richard Rosenthal as B.C.’s first civilian police investigator suggests that the province’s police forces are beginning to realize that greater transparency may be more of a friend than an enemy.

Callens has also sent a message he is prepared to make changes to the ‘culture’ of the RCMP, both by making sure officers who allege harassment are able to report it without fear of retribution, and by suggesting he will be taking a close look at the actions of immediate superiors of complaining officers to make sure incidents are not swept under the carpet.

He is, of course, engaged in his own damage-control mission – to rebuild public confidence in the force.

As he notes, most officers do an exceptional job, but large organizations such as the RCMP can’t afford to ignore public perceptions, even if they prove – by and large – erroneous.

The sense that an organization can close ranks and refuse to acknowledge wrongdoing undermines every bit of valuable work such an organization does. Loss of confidence is a poison that can eat away at the fabric of any organization in which the public reposits its trust.

No amount of spin-doctoring or presentation of media-friendly photo ops can take away the feeling that something is wrong. Glibness, aloofness, or an unwillingness to acknowledge that there could be a problem doesn’t help either.

Taking responsibility, as Callens demonstrates, is about more than damage control, or never admitting weakness or past errors. And, as he seems to understand, that can only inspire more public confidence in the long run.

 

Just Posted

Migrating sockeye in the Fraser River August 7, 2007. (Fisheries and Oceans Canada)
First Nations, commercial, and recreational harvesters join forces to save Fraser River fish

‘We have to work together to rebuild these stocks while there is still time,’ says delegate

web
Father’s Day Parade planned for Mission

Classic vehicles from the 1920s to the 1970s will drive through Mission, Hatzic on June 20

Vancouver courthouse. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Man loses bid to appeal conviction for 1999 rape at Abbotsford music festival

James Redden, 53, formerly of Nanaimo, was found guilty in 2019 following six-day trial

.
Fraser Health monitors long-term care vaccination rates amid local COVID-19 outbreak

COVID-19 transmission has largely been on the decline in Agassiz-Harrison

FVRD surveyed public opinion on cannabis production and processing in the electoral areas. Odour and distance from residential areas were the top concerns. (Black Press file)
Cannabis production and processing rules being drafted by Fraser Valley Regional District

Data from public opinion survey will be used to guide cannabis-related land use

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

(pixabay file shot)
B.C. ombudsperson labels youth confinement in jail ‘unsafe,’ calls for changes

Review states a maximum of 22 hours for youth, aged 12 from to 17, to be placed in solitary

Eleonore Alamillo-Laberge, 6, reads a book in Ottawa on Monday, June 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Parents will need to fight ‘COVID learning slump’ over summer: B.C. literacy experts

Parents who play an active role in educating their children this summer can reverse the slump by nearly 80%, says Janet Mort

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

The B.C. government’s vaccine booking website is busy processing second-dose appointments, with more than 76 per cent of adults having received a first dose. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations stable for Tuesday

108 new confirmed cases, 139 in hospital, 39 in intensive care

A worker, at left, tends to a customer at a cosmetics shop amid the COVID-19 pandemic Thursday, May 20, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Half of cosmetics sold in Canada, U.S. contain toxic chemicals: study

Researchers found that 56% of foundations and eye products contain high levels of fluorine

White Rock’s Marine Drive has been converted to one-way traffic to allow more patio space for waterfront restaurants. (Peace Arch News)
Province promotes permanent pub patios in B.C. post-pandemic plan

More than 2,000 temporary expansions from COVID-19 rules

Most Read