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Lawyers preparing possible class-action suit against RCMP

Richmond RCMP parade in front of the newly unveiled $36-million Richmond Community Safety Building, which houses the headquarters of the Richmond RCMP, Nov. 7, 2011.

Brett Beadle for The Globe and Mail/brett beadle The Globe and Mail

Dozens of former and current female Mounties are signing up for a possible class-action lawsuit against Canada's national force for harassment and bullying, says one of a team of lawyers preparing the case.

Alexander Zaitzeff said the team of seven lawyers in Ontario and B.C. have been getting calls and e-mails from across Canada since RCMP Corporal Catherine Galliford spoke last month about alleged harassment during her career.

"The stories are consistent. The stories are common in terms of harassment, bullying and, oftentimes, sexual issues," the Thunder Bay, Ont. lawyer said Tuesday night.

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"The calls are sad, hugely sad. The stories are terrible," he said, adding many serving members are unable to work because they are "petrified" in light of their experiences.

"There are hugely tragic cases of women who went into depression, who required counselling and who are still under counselling – psychologists, psychiatrists, various medications; their family life has been disrupted, destroyed; their children have suffered greatly," he said.

Mr. Zaitzeff declined to be specific about the number of women involved, noting "it changes literally by the hour."

While some men have been in touch to talk about being the targets of bullying, he said the suit will focus on women.

The women involved have organized themselves, he added. "They e-mail each other. They speak to each other, and they gain strength from each other."

He said the suit may be filed "any day," probably in B.C Supreme Court because of its relatively simple procedural rules.

Comments this week by Bob Paulson, the new commissioner of the RCMP, have been encouraging, Mr. Zaiteff said. Mr. Paulson admitted to The Globe and Mail that there has been a culture of bullying at the force as well as a legacy of botched investigations.

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About the Author
B.C. reporter

Ian Bailey is a Vancouver-based reporter for The Globe and Mail.  He covers politics and general news. Prior to arriving at The Globe and Mail, he reported from Toronto and St. John’s for The Canadian Press.  He has also covered British Columbia for CP, The National Post and The Province. More

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