From Mayerthorpe to Moncton: The Unanswered Questions
Photos by Andre Gagne
“Holy crap, his wife his pregnant.”
This was the first thought that struck Louis-Philippe Thériault moments after hearing his friend and fellow officer Cst. David Ross had died from gunshot wounds, murdered in the line of duty by 24-year-old Justin Bourque. He’d take the lives of two others members of the RCMP in Moncton on June 4th 2014, severely injure two more and at the time of learning of the tragic death of one of their own, the killer was still at large.
“Pure chaos, that’s the best way I can describe the situation,” Thériault, now President of the Mounted Police Professional Association of Canada (MPPAC), told those gathered inside the Carleton University's Bell Theatre last night for From Mayerthorpe to Moncton: The Unanswered Questions.
Organized by Department of Sociology and Anthropology Professor Darryl Davies, a strong and vocal advocate for change in the RCMP, the symposium brought together key figures surrounding the debate of issues facing the police in the twenty-first century. Thériault, the keynote speaker, told students that he felt the RCMP were ill equipped on June 4th,, that they had to learn what was transpiring via Facebook posts and that nobody knew what to expect. Siting a shocking example, when he asked that day what he should be looking for in regards to the shooter he was informed “look for someone who could shoot you”.
“It’s been proven that we’ve been ill equipped for years. We’re supposed to be a national icon but we can’t equip our members properly,” said Thériault, a statement agreed upon in 2017 when Judge Leslie Jackson ruled that the RCMP was guilty of failing to provide adequate use-of-force equipment and related training to the Moncton Mounties.
Davies would stress that between the shootings in Mayerthorpe, Alberta in 2005 that took the lives of four Constables and today there still remains many unanswered questions, some shrouded by cover-up and corruption.
“There is overwhelming evidence to indicate that the investigations into the shooting deaths of the four Mounties at Mayerhorpe were totally compromised by the lack of independence and therefore nothing more than a blatant cover up,” stated Davies in a passionate speech to his students and other members of the public.
“Until a public inquiry is held into the Mayerthorpe tragedy and criminal charges are laid against RCMP management for what happened in Moncton New Brunswick for failing to equip their officers with patrol carbines there can be no justice for the officers who died serving their communities.”
Also speaking last night was former Mountie Rob Creasser. Now a spokesperson for MPPAC, he learned firsthand how the RCMP was trying to bury these issues in the public eye. After making comments to the media in 2006 on of the RCMP’s failure to train and equip its officers, he was slapped with a gag order and threatened with disciplinary action. He would later leave the RCMP while dealing with PTSD acquired on the job, something many other retired and active duty officers suffer from. Inadequate treatment and incorrect stigmas associated with this as well as recent claims of hundreds of cases of sexual harassment inside the RCMP were also touched upon.
“The preponderance of police misconduct in this country is staggering,” said Ottawa Life Magazine Publishing and Managing Editor Dan Donovan in an impassioned plea for change. He dedicated his talk to Cpl. Patrick Bouchard, another Mountie taken to task for his criticism of the RCMP, this time for the response to the Moncton shootings. Bouchard, who worked a 33-hour shift the day of the shooting, strongly criticized senior managers who did not appear in court the day of the judge’s ruling. He would later say he was targeted for his statements when he was removed from regular duty for not shaving his goatee.
“The group of people running the RCMP are massively incompetent and corrupt. This guy’s boss should be put in the Dunce Corner for a month,” said Donovan, who often broke up the serious discussion with some much needed humour eliciting chuckles from the crowd. “You know what I’d do as punishment for that guy’s boss? I’d force him to grow a goatee.”
Davies says he was happy how the discussion came together to conjoin multiple issues facing today’s police forces. He adds that it is important for his students to learn about issues not just from a textbook but from real life events in the world in which we live.
“An event of this nature makes students aware of the current problems facing the members such as sexual harassment, chronic staff shortages, mental health issues,equipment deficiencies and serious health and safety that they face when policing our communities,” Davies said.
“The RCMP is at a critical point in its history and unless cataclysmic and transformative changes take place the very existence of the RCMP as our national police service is in dire jeopardy.”