Information sessions garner support for first ever RCMP union

By Tanya Cronin
October 17, 2016 - 5:08pm

KAMLOOPS — It has been a long-fought battle for the right to collectively bargain with the government. 

Since the 1960's the RCMP has been barred from forming a union and has remained the only police force in Canada with such a restriction. 

But last year, The Supreme Court of Canada gave approval for the RCMP to become unionized, and since then national groups have been vying to become that bargaining agent. 

WATCH: Full report by Tanya Cronin

The Mounted Police Professional Association of Canada is one of them, and this week in Kamloops the group is holding a series of information sessions, to educate members of the force about the benefits and protection a union offers.

It was one of the deadliest attacks on the RCMP. A string of shootings by a lone gunman in Moncton, New Brunswick two years ago, that left three officers dead and two others injured. 

"The Federal Government is facing 4 Canada Labour Code charges for what happened in Moncton," says Rob Creasser, The Mounted Police Professional Association.

Retired Mountie Rob Creasser says what happened in New Brunswick is just one example of the serious issues plaguing the RCMP, and a reason he is pushing for the national force to unionized.

"There would actually be negotiations, you would be able to sit down at a table and say we need these things and there would be some give and take."

The RCMP is the only police service in Canada without that right or the freedom to unionize. Creasser, a member of an organization representing rank and file members, is fighting to change that. To have collective-bargaining rights, covering key issues such as harassment, discipline, and equipment.

"Right now the management or employer, which is the Treasury Board of Canada has 100% control, we can make representation saying we need more training, we need better equipment such as C8 carbine rifles in the cars, we can say all those things but the decision is made 100% by the other people, either management or treasury board and that can't continue."

Last year, The Supreme Court of Canada struck down a law that forbade the mounties from unionizing. However, with members fearful of talking about forming a union, The Mounted Police Professional Association is holding a series of information meetings.

"We are trying to become the collective bargaining agent for members of the RCMP so they do have a stronger voice, but if you talk to RCMP members they have no idea what's going on, they're kept in the dark and this is a way for them to come out and learn what's taking place."    

The force has made headlines over the years, shaken by chronic harassment issues, shooting incidents involving officers like Kamloops Mountie Corporal Jean-Rene Michaud. And with the number of senior officers retiring or leaving for other police agencies, Creasser says working conditions need to be improved.

"We're losing quality people, I got disillusioned with the outfit when I had 15, 16 years service and now I'm seeing that in 2-year members, so it's concerning for sure." 

Creasser says the environment has become so negative that right now, he would hesitate to recommend the organization to anyone looking at law enforcement as a career.

"The people today that come into the outfit, it's about what's best for me, who pays me the best, who's going to take care of me the best, who's going to be there to properly equip it and train me, and right now that outfit is not the RCMP," says Creasser.

The Mounted Police Professional Association is holding information sessions at the BCGEU Office on Oriole Road beginning tonight at 7pm and tomorrow at 11am and 7pm. All RCMP members are encouraged to attend, to find out more information about unionizing the force.

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