The independent investigator appointed by the federal government to examine matters related to the RCMP pension and insurance plans released his final report today – the seventh “investigation” into matters surrounding the RCMP pension and insurance funds.
“What happened in the administration of the RCMP pension and insurance plans constituted a fundamental breach of trust between the RCMP and its current and retired members,” says David Brown Q.C., former chairman of the Ontario Securities Commission. “I found myself forced beyond these events to comment on a broader breach of trust between RCMP management and its members.” Brown was asked to report to the Minister of Public Safety and the President of the Treasury Board nine weeks ago on key questions related to RCMP management responses to revelations about improprieties in the administration of the RCMP pension and insurance plans.
Prior to this report, RCMP management conducted an internal audit of the pension plan in 2003, ordered a criminal investigation in 2004, conducted internal investigations and an internal audit in 2005, followed by a report by the Auditor General of Canada and subsequent hearings by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Accounts.
According to a press release on the findings , Brown sought to clarify conflicting information presented during the six previous investigations into this matter. Working with forensic investigators from KPMG, more than 400,000 documents and emails were collected from RCMP servers and personal computers, revealing 3,500 emails of relevance – many of which had not before been reviewed. More than 35,000 pages of documents were reviewed and 25 witnesses interviewed.
Brown recommended an urgent review and changes to the RCMP's culture, structure and governance. He recommended that this be conducted through a Task Force that will report back to the Minister of Public Safety by December 14, 2007. He said the Task Force should be comprised of members of the RCMP and senior public servants, as well as outside experts in relevant areas such as policing and governance.
Acknowledging that current governance problems at the RCMP are institutional and long-standing, Brown nonetheless pointed to recent leadership deficiencies of former RCMP Commissioner Zaccardelli as exacerbating the problems around the pension and insurance matters and overall culture of the RCMP.
Issues with Zaccardelli
"The issue with Commissioner Zaccardelli was not just his autocratic leadership style, but the way in which he articulated it. He expressed himself in passionate (some say intemperate) ways, with little regard or apparent respect for those with whom he was dealing."
"In an already fractured culture, senior management was projecting an attitude of disinterest and callousness in respect of an issue of legitimate concern to every single member - past and present - of the Force: their pensions. In the process, the Commissioner lost his troops."
Brown's report also notes that "It is clear that several individuals who were instrumental in reporting and reviewing mismanagement were treated very unfairly by RCMP management and Commissioner Zaccardelli. To the extent that they were treated in accordance with 'RCMP practices', I believe those practices were used as a weapon in a war of personalities and as a cover to achieve the desired result of removing the whistleblowers."
Brown found that the criminal investigation requested by the RCMP in 2004 was not conducted independently, though he stressed that it is impossible to determine whether or not the investigation materially suffered from this lack of independence. As a result, he recommended the Ontario Provincial Police immediately review the investigation to determine whether the findings are sound or whether a new investigation is required.
"At the conclusion of my work, I am able to report that there was no person with whom we wished to meet who declined to meet with us," Brown commented. Nor has any person declined to answer any question or to produce any document. Because of the extraordinary level of cooperation my office enjoyed from the RCMP under the command of Commissioner Busson, I had extensive access to all emails and documents. I can't conceive that access would have been greater had I been a commissioner under the Public Inquiries Act. Nor do I have any reason to believe that there is relevant information we have not received."