If you want a fresh example of the dysfunction in the RCMP, look no further than the Monday's flap-doodle over Bob Paulson's wedding.
Here's the background. Paulson, appointed commissioner of Canada's national police force less than a year ago with a mandate to heal the deeply troubled national police force, is in a war with some of his subordinates.
Since then, the veteran Mountie has managed to alienate a segment of his members who think he's tarring all of them with the misdeeds of a relative handful of bad apples connected to sexual harassment, questionable shootings and other misbehaviour.
Paulson's tartly worded responses to a couple of officers who directly questioned his approach didn't help. A group calling itself Re-Sergance Alliance earlier this month threatened that some officers were prepared to air the force's dirty laundry in public if Paulson didn't let up.
Perhaps we're seeing the start of that campaign with Monday's story in the Globe and Mail that trainee members of the Mounties' famed Musical Ride trotted off while on shift to act as an honour guard at Paulson's wedding in Ottawa on Aug. 16 to senior federal bureaucrat Erin O'Gorman.
The Globe got wind of nuptials the next day, a fairly low-key affair apparently, except for the squad of eight officers — sans horses — in red serge holding their lances in a bridal arch over the happy couple as they left the church.
An RCMP spokesman told the Globe they were members in training for the Musical Ride who volunteered to participate in the wedding.
"These duties were performed voluntarily at the end of their workday," Cpl. David Falls said in an e-mail.
That was, ah, not quite true. Sources (who, I wonder) told the Globe the trainees were in fact assigned to attend as part of their regular duties, and their shift was changed so they could take in the 4 p.m. ceremony.
In a followup with the Globe, Falls acknowledged the wedding took place "in the middle of the [modified] shift" and that the commissioner had requested the honour guard. But he said participants "were polled for their possible interest. They were not assigned."
But sources told the Globe the eight did not volunteer and were in fact assigned.
(Just as an aside, hands up any of you who, if you worked for an outfit run along paramilitary lines, would refuse to "volunteer" to attend some private function important to your boss.)
The Globe tried repeatedly to reach Paulson, who's apparently on vacation until Sept. 4.
But when the story broke Monday, Paulson was quick to say he was sorry.
"I would like to apologize to the members and to Canadians," Paulson in a written statement issued through his media relations office, according to the Toronto Star.
"I will reimburse $912 to the Receiver General as this amount represents the three hours of work of these eight constables."
It was all a big communications mixup, according to the Mounties.
Sgt. Greg Cox told the Star and other news outlets via email that Paulson had requested an honour guard at his wedding — itself not unusual — and asked the Musical Ride Corp's sergeant major "to seek some volunteers."
Cox said Paulson "was not consulted on their duty status."
The end result of this little screw-up; the new-broom commissioner is publicly embarrassed.