February 15, 2022

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Federal government promises probe of RCMP’s approach to sexual misconduct in the ranks

It’s been years since Cathy Mansley wore her RCMP uniform. She still gets upset talking about her exit.

The former constable said she was the target of discrimination and sexual advances — including unwanted touching — throughout her career.

“When I became more vocal about how I was being treated at work and how I wasn’t being helped, especially after I asked for help, everything just went downhill from there,” she told CBC News from her home in Cape Breton.

Mansley said that, despite complaints to the chain of command, the officer who she says touched her and others was allowed to retire. She said she spiralled as a result, began drinking too much and eventually left the RCMP after 24 years with a medical discharge.

After years of claims that sexual predators and harassers have been allowed to serve in the RCMP with few consequences, the federal government is promising to review how the police service disciplines its members.

Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino’s post-election mandate letter tasked him with launching “an external review of the RCMP’s sanctions and disciplinary regime to determine the adequacy of existing sanctions and whether they are applied properly and consistently.”

A spokesperson for the minister said the review will look at how the RCMP handles sexual misconduct in the ranks. “We know there remains more work to be done and RCMP reform is one of Minister Mendicino’s top priorities,” said Alexander Cohen.

The RCMP has been accused for years of imposing inadequate sanctions on Mounties in cases of harassment and sexual assault. In his scathing 2020 report on the RCMP’s internal culture, former Supreme Court justice Michel Bastarache said he heard alleged victims of sexual misconduct accuse the RCMP of letting perpetrators slide with next to no “consequences.”

The force has paid out millions of dollars to more than 2,300 victims as part of the historic Merlo-Davidson settlement agreement, which was the result of a class-action lawsuit related to sexual harassment of women within the RCMP. Read more on this story here.

Beijing orders COVID-19 tests for millions of residents ahead of Winter Games start

(Andy Wong/The Associated Press)

A medical worker prepares swabs at a coronavirus test site in Xichen District in Beijing today. Beijing’s city government has introduced new measures — including the testing of two million people and anyone buying fever or cough medicine — to contain a recent outbreak of COVID-19 with less than two weeks before it hosts the Winter Olympic Games. 

In brief

Conservative MPs fiercely opposed to the federal government’s new vaccine mandate for cross-border truckers have slammed what they call Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s “vaccine vendetta,” saying that the policy will disrupt the country’s supply chains. Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre, the party’s finance critic, claimed the government’s vaccine policy is “emptying grocery shelves and ballooning food prices,” leaving some Canadians to “go hungry.” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau defended the policy, saying a wave of COVID-19 infections is doing more to disrupt Canada’s supply chains than any vaccine mandate could. He said enforcing this policy is the best way to keep new travel-related infections under control. Read the full story here.

WATCH | Trucker vaccine mandate blamed for empty shelves as convoy heads to Ottawa: 

Trucker vaccine mandate blamed for empty shelves as convoy heads to Ottawa

Ukraine’s leaders sought to reassure the nation that a feared Russian invasion was not imminent, although they acknowledged the threat is real and prepared to accept a shipment of American military equipment today. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said late Monday that the situation was “under control” and that there is “no reason to panic.” The country’s Defence Minister, Oleksii Reznikov, said that, as of Monday, Russia’s armed forces had not formed what he called battle groups, “which would have indicated that tomorrow they would launch an offensive.” Read more on this story here.

WATCH | NATO troops on alert for possible Russian invasion of Ukraine: 

NATO troops on alert for possible Russian invasion of Ukraine

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the military commander who was dismissed from his job as head of Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout, has pleaded not guilty to a charge of sexual assault. The alleged incident dates back to 1988, when Fortin was a student at the Royal Military College Saint-Jean. Military police referred the investigation to the Quebec prosecution service in May 2021, just days after Fortin was removed from his assignment as head of Canada’s vaccine task force. Fortin’s lawyer, Phillippe Morneau, submitted the not-guilty plea at a courthouse in Gatineau, Que., on Monday morning. A trial date has not yet been set. Read more on this story.

The potential sale of a private zoo in southwestern Ontario where there are hundreds of exotic animals is raising legal and moral questions about the thorny issue of the private ownership of dangerous wildlife. Greenview Aviaries Park and Zoo, which has operated for nearly 40 years in the community of Morpeth in Chatham-Kent, is listed on Ontario’s Multiple Listings Service for $4.5 million. It includes about 20 hectares of land and a collection of 450 animals, including goats, llamas, hundreds of birds and a number of large predator cats. Animal rights activists say the fact the zoo’s menagerie of animals is included with the property illustrates the need for better laws governing keeping exotic animals in Ontario. They argue anyone could take ownership of potentially dangerous lions and tigers with no licensing or training required. Ontario has no laws governing the ownership or breeding of potentially dangerous animals, and no standards for training on how the animals should be handled. Read more about the sale of the zoo

Canadian tennis player Denis Shapovalov’s impressive run at the Australian Open is over. The left-hander from Richmond Hill, Ont., lost a marathon five-set quarter-final match (6-3, 6-4, 4-6, 3-6, 6-3) to Spain’s Rafael Nadal at Rod Laver Stadium today in Melbourne. Nadal is on track for a record 21 major singles titles. He also improved his career record against Shapovalov to 4-1. Nadal was appearing in his 14th Australian Open quarter-final. Shapovalov, 22, was in his first Australian Open quarter-final. Read more from today’s match.

The $10-billion US James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) that was launched into space on Dec. 25 safely reached its destination Monday afternoon. Webb is the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, launched in 1990. Hubble is still hard at work, providing astronomers with insight into our universe, but Webb is a new and improved telescope that will peer further back to a time when our universe was in its infancy. “It’s going to be amazing when we get the first data coming back,” said Chris Willott, an astronomer with the National Research Council Canada’s Herzberg Astronomy and Astrophysics Research Centre. “There are so many new things we’re going to discover.” Read more about the new telescope here

WATCH | Why the James Webb Space Telescope is such a big deal: 

Why the James Webb Space Telescope is such a big deal

Now for some good news to start your Tuesday: A writing project that’s been ongoing for nearly 700 days has kept a circle of seniors from the London, Ont., area connected during some of the darkest days of the pandemic. The group has been swapping email messages, marking the days in the subject line, and discovering that they now have a unique record of their friendship and global history. “It’s like they’ve become therapy for us to cope with the situation,” said Diane O’Shea, one of the four digital pen pals. “It’s been good in lots of ways.” Read more about the writing project.

First Person | The Prairies got something to say: how my hometown inspired my rap career

I wanted to inspire young artists on the Prairies to tell their own stories and develop their unique sound, writes Canadian rapper Rollie Pemberton a.k.a Cadence Weapon. Read his column here.

Front Burner: Boris Johnson’s ‘partygate’ scandal

For over a month now, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been embroiled in a scandal involving gatherings at 10 Downing Street while the country was under lockdown restrictions due to COVID-19. 

One Conservative MP has crossed the floor to the Labour Party, while another has called for his resignation, saying to Johnson in Parliament, “In the name of God, go.” 

Senior civil servant Sue Gray has been conducting an inquiry into the alleged rule-breaking, and that report looms. 

Today, CBC’s Europe correspondent Margaret Evans explains what’s led up to this point, and whether it could cost Johnson his job.

25:31Boris Johnson’s ‘partygate’ scandal

Today in history: January 25

1915: Alexander Graham Bell inaugurates transcontinental telephone service in North America — more than 40 years after developing the invention in Brantford, Ont. Bell makes a call from New York to San Francisco.

1924: The first Winter Olympics begin in Chamonix, France.

1953: The Empress of Canada, a luxury liner of the Canadian Pacific fleet, is destroyed in a dockside fire at Liverpool, England. The ship sailed between Canada and Britain for years and was used as a troop ship during the Second World War.

1977: In his first major international speech since becoming Quebec’s premier in late 1976, Rene Levesque tells the Economic Club of New York that Quebec independence is inevitable.

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