The Royal Canadian Mounted Police has announced it will train some 100 officers to investigate sexual harassment complaints within the ranks.
RCMP Deputy Commissioner Craig Callens said the special force is part of a larger plan created after an internal assessment confirmed the Mounties are beset by sex discrimination.
Callens agreed problems must be addressed, adding he wouldn't want his own daughter — an aspiring RCMP officer — to work in the current environment.
Male and female officers will be trained for the harassment squad and should be ready to handle those investigations, in addition to their regular duties, by the end of next month.
This development comes on the heels of a sexual harassment class-action suit filed against the RCMP by Janet Merlo, a former Nanaimo, B.C., RCMP constable.
According to a news report on the CBC website, Merlo alleges she endured 20 years of sexual harassment, sexual pranks, lewd comments and double standards from male supervisors.
The lawsuit, filed by the law firms of Klein Lyons of Vancouver and Watkins Law of Thunder Bay, Ont., named Merlo as a plaintiff but the legal team that put together the case said as many as 150 women are ready to join the suit. These women allegedly have their own stories of harassment and gender-based discrimination in the RCMP, the CBC report said.
In a statement issued by Sgt. Greg Cox of the RCMP, the agency stressed its commitment to "providing to all its employees a work environment free from harassment, discrimination and any resulting conflict, where all employees are treated with respect and dignity."
— With files from The Canadian Press