OTTAWA - The Harper government is trying to block the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal from hearing a retired aboriginal Mountie's complaints about the alleged discrimination and harassment he faced over the course of his long RCMP career.
Attorney General Rob Nicholson has asked the Federal Court for a judicial review of a decision to refer Greg Morrison Blain's complaint to the tribunal, arguing it was made in error.
Blain was a member of the RCMP from July 1992 until he retired in January. He is now chief of the Ashcroft Indian Band in the B.C. Interior, a little over an hour's drive west of the city of Kamloops.
Blain complained to the Canadian Human Rights Commission in June 2008 about being discriminated against and harassed because of his ancestry and a psychological condition he suffered from after an Afghanistan deployment.
"I have suffered grave harm to my dignity and self-respect as a result of the RCMP's callous treatment of me since I became a member," he wrote in his complaint.
Blain also says the RCMP devalued his aboriginal identity.
"The RCMP's demeaning conduct is particularly hurtful to me as I have grown up with the burden of hundreds of years of oppression and discrimination by Canadian police forces and because I became an RCMP officer and chief of the Ashcroft Indian Band in the hopes of fostering better relationships between police and aboriginal persons."
The commission assigned an investigator to the complaint, who did not find sufficient evidence to merit a wider probe into any of the allegations that took place before February 2007.
However, the investigator felt there was enough evidence to warrant an inquiry into allegations made between February 2007 and June 2008.
During that time, Blain was posted to Afghanistan as part of the Canadian civilian policing contingent in Kandahar. He claims his white colleagues treated him poorly because he was an aboriginal.
Blain was sent home several months into his deployment after an investigation found he had altered electronic data, such as patrol reports and lesson plans. Blain denies any wrongdoing.
He went on an extended sick leave in September 2007 upon his return to the Kamloops RCMP detachment.
Even though the investigator recommended against an inquiry into allegations that took place before February 2007, the commission still asked the tribunal to look into Blain's entire complaint, which spans most of his 20-year career.
Nicholson argues in a court filing that the tribunal's focus should be much narrower.
The attorney general also claims the commission erred in not providing written reasons for its decision, and for not giving the government a chance to respond to the allegations.
This is not the first time the national police force has been rocked by accusations of harassment within its ranks.
The RCMP promised to investigate the prevalence of harassment within the force after a Mountie sued the force over alleged sexual assault and harassment on the job.
Cpl. Catherine Galliford, who was a high-profile police spokeswoman on the Air India and Robert Pickton cases, has filed a lawsuit detailing allegations that span nearly two decades. She claims a pervasive culture within the force left her powerless to make it stop.
Since Galliford sued the RCMP last year, at least four other female Mounties have filed cases of their own, including one who says dozens of other officers are prepared to join her in a class-action lawsuit.