The Canadian Press
Blue Line
June 11, 2018
By The Canadian Press
VANCOUVER — Former RCMP officers who suffered sexual harassment and bullying on the job are grieving the suicide of an ex-Mountie who advocated for change within the force they say ruined so many lives.

Catherine Galliford, who was one of the first Mounties to speak out about her experiences at the hands of fellow officers, said she was devastated to learn that Krista Carle, with whom she graduated from Depot division in Regina, had taken her own life.

A photo shows Galliford, Carle and seven other female graduates wearing red serge on the day they graduated in 1991, years before several of them would be leaving their jobs because of sexual harassment or sexual assault.

“I had a breakdown a couple of nights ago and kept on saying to my partner, ‘I was right here, I was right here. Why didn’t she phone me?’ “ Galliford said Tuesday. “We were like sisters. We lived together for six months in Depot. We both went through harassment and I don’t know what happened.”

Carle worked for the RCMP for 19 years but took medical discharge in 2009 following sexual harassment on the job in Alberta, before she moved to British Columbia.

Galliford said she received a call from Carle’s sister last Friday saying that the former Mountie killed herself on Vancouver Island, leaving behind two teenagers who were being raised by their father because of her post-traumatic stress disorder.

“I was going to call her the day before and I didn’t. And I’m wondering if I could have made a difference.”

Carle is being remembered by other former RCMP officers who filed lawsuits against the force as an outspoken advocate for a cultural shift within an organization they say seems to have its own rules for conduct that should not be tolerated.

Galliford, who settled a lawsuit with the RCMP last year, said the force operates within a “rape culture” that must be fixed. She said she and others are upset about Commissioner Brenda Lucki’s recent comments that she doesn’t think things are necessarily broken.

Lucki was not immediately available for comment.

Galliford said that while it’s impossible to know what pushed Carle over the edge, Lucki’s statement would not have been helpful to someone who’d worked so hard to have the force address serious issues.

“I don’t know, but I was very good friends with Krista and I had no indication,” Galliford said about the friend who seemed to be doing well. “But (the commissioner) made that statement, and we’ve been trying to say for a decade, ‘No, it’s broken.”

Galliford said Carle apparently lost her will to live against the “PTSD demons” after daily harassment that went on for years, starting with graphic pornography left among her belongings, lewd questions about her personal life and forcible kissing.

She still struggles with her own PTSD symptoms, Galliford said, adding she’s terrified of RCMP buildings.

“I don’t think anybody has any concept of how bad the harassment is in there. When you are being harassed or thrown up against a wall and having your crotch grabbed, who do you go to?”

Janet Merlo, who also graduated with Carle, said she was shocked to hear the Mountie who was the calmest among their graduating group had taken her own life.

“There were days when we were all stressed out during basic training and she was the cool, calm one who just talked us through it,” she said from St. John’s, N.L.

“We became closer over the last years with all the lawsuits and lawyers and telling our story, which brought us closer and closer. So it’s a devastating shock to know she’s not going to call again,” said Merlo, who was the lead plaintiff in a B.C. class-action lawsuit against the RCMP.

Merlo said Carle’s is the third suicide of former female Mounties that she knows of, but there are many more who’d put up with public ridicule for coming forward.

“One comment that came out online was that I was too ugly to have been harassed,” Merlo said, adding Lucki’s recent comment about the force not needing to be fixed was a “kick to the belly.”

Rob Creasser, a former RCMP officer and group spokesman for the Mounted Police Professional Association of Canada, said Carle’s suicide won’t be the last if changes aren’t made soon.

Creasser said the force has had dozens of opportunities to change its “toxic” culture, and he placed a lot of blame on the federal government, which has failed to act on reports commissioned about the RCMP’s workplace.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale issued a statement saying he was saddened to hear about Carle’s passing.

“In addition to speaking out against insidious harassment she experienced during her time with the RCMP, she was also a source of strength and support for countless other victims,” he said. ``Her courage and compassion will not be forgotten, her efforts to spur reform will succeed.”

- Camille Bains, with file from Janice Dickson in Ottawa.

News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc., 2018








The Canadian Press
Blue Line
May 08, 2018
By The Canadian Press
TORONTO — Ontario researchers have teamed up to test a portable device that can detect the presence of potentially deadly fentanyl in street drugs and deliver the results in mere seconds.

The scientists at the University of Ottawa and Carleton University have set up the mass spectrometer instrument at the supervised injection site within the Sandy Hill Community Health Center in the nation’s capital, which like many Canadian cities has witnessed rising numbers of overdose deaths due to the illicit narcotic.

Jeff Smith, director of the mass spectrometry centre at Carleton, said the device is able to detect fentanyl in a minuscule sample of a street drug like heroin within 20 seconds — compared to the months it would take through standard lab testing.

Mass spectrometers are able to differentiate components of drugs by assessing their mass, or molecular weight.

“If you can measure every individual component of a sample and get its mass, you can identify what’s in that sample,” Smith said Thursday from Ottawa.

Substances, including drugs like fentanyl and the even more toxic carfentanil, each have unique molecular weights, allowing for them to be identified by their mass, he said.

Only a tiny drop of a syringe-prepared drug needs to be taken as a sample and placed into the port of the laser printer-sized instrument made by U.S.-based Bayspec, which the universities purchased for about US$100,000 with a grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

So far, the research team has created methods for the miniaturized mass spectrometer to test samples for five drugs — fentanyl, carfentanil, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine.

“But that list can be dramatically expanded,” he said. “And of course that is our plan over the next few months, to add more and more drugs to the list of all of the things that might be present in a user’s sample.”

Rob Boyd, director of Sandy Hill’s Oasis program that oversees the supervised-injection site, said because clients are purchasing unregulated drugs off the street, they have no idea what ingredients they contain.

“So anyone purchasing heroin from the street, we have cautioned them to assume that you have fentanyl and to take the necessary provisions to prevent overdoses and overdose deaths,” he said.

“This will provide them with an opportunity to have their drug checked before they actually use the drug.”

Boyd said the research is aimed at demonstrating the usefulness of the technology, which could be adopted by other communities rocked by the opioid overdose crisis, in Canada and throughout North America, or “wherever it’s needed.”

“So us being able to do this now will benefit communities if they are interested in purchasing the instrument or the same technology.”

Principal researcher Lynne Leonard, director of the HIV and hepatitis C prevention team at the University of Ottawa, called the mass spectrometer “the right intervention at the right time.”

Users who overdose because they are unaware their drugs have been tainted by fentanyl, for instance, can be rescued with a shot of naloxone.

“Naloxone is extremely effective and we know it’s brought people back from overdoses, but that’s after the event,” Leonard said. This “technology actually is going to help people know what’s in their drugs before they even inject them.”

- Sheryl Ubelacker

News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc., 2018 










The Canadian Press
Blue Line
June 07, 2018
By The Canadian Press
REGINA — The Saskatchewan Police Commission is telling officers not to randomly stop people on the street and ask for information.

The commission also reminded people Wednesday that they are under no obligation to talk to police if they are stopped.

“Members of the public ... are free to walk away at any time,” the commission said in a news release.

The police commission is bringing in a new policy which spells out that people can’t be stopped based on their race or just because they are in a high-crime area.

The commission, which regulates municipal and First Nations police forces, refers to the practice as contact interviews, but the terms carding or street checks have been used in other provinces. Minority groups have raised concerns, saying they are unfairly targeted by officers.

Chris Kortright from the Saskatchewan Coalition Against Racism said that it’s problematic for the commission to word the process as voluntary.

“It’s fundamentally ignoring the relationship most citizens, especially Indigenous and marginalized people, have with the police,” Kortright said.

“When a cop calls you over and demands to see your ID and starts asking you questions, most individuals don’t feel like they have the right to refuse that.”

Commission chair Neil Robertson said the agency deliberately avoided the term carding because it wanted to use a neutral term.

“Stopping someone because of some identifiable characteristic that’s protected under the Human Rights Code, including race, would be improper,” Robertson said.

Ken Norman, a law professor at the University of Saskatchewan, said that the commission got it right in principal but that police need to pay attention to what is happening.

“Police carding has got to be premised on a better basis than stereotypical assumptions,” Norman said.

The policy does allow for interviews when circumstances warrant — for example, if someone is in an industrial area late at night when all the businesses are closed.

Estevan police Chief Paul Ladouceur said it’s important to have a policy that guides police officers across the province.

“The policy has to be broad enough that it allows the police to still do the important work that they have do within their communities ... recognizing the balance between public engagement and respecting right of individuals and freedoms of individuals,” he said.

Ladouceur said he didn’t think random street checks have been an extensive problem in the province.

“Recently, obviously, we’ve seen across the country this has gone beyond that,” Ladouceur said. “So this was the approach of saying, ‘Let’s deal with this now so it doesn’t become a problem.”’

Kortright disagrees and said that his group has heard a lot of complaints by people who are targeted because of the neighbourhoods they live in or how they look.

Human rights lawyer Larry Kowalchuk said there’s no question that racism in Saskatchewan, as well as police interaction with Indigenous people, is a problem. He added that the new policy seems redundant.

“They are now saying ‘Well, from now on, you shouldn’t pick a particular group of people, class of people. You shouldn’t do that,”’ Kowalchuk said. “That sounds to me like an admission to that they have been doing that.”

Saskatoon police Chief Troy Cooper said in a statement that street checks are an important component of community policing, but there has to be a balance to maintain public confidence.

“I want to assure our community that our service will be reviewing the policy in consultation with the Saskatoon Board of Police Commissioners and will develop an approach that will best meet the needs of our citizens,” the statement said.

- Ryan McKenna

News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc., 2018









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