Ex-Mountie claims she is being censored

A veteran RCMP officer who was scheduled to testify before a House of Commons committee investigating harassment within the force says she's being censored and excluded after submitting her speaking notes.

Krista Carle said Friday she was shocked when Conservative members of the House of Commons standing committee on the status of women cancelled her appearance yesterday on Parliament Hill, shortly after she submitted her speaking notes to the committee 36 hours before hand, as required.

Carle said she was told she couldn't testify because she's among 300 female RCMP officers waiting to join a class-action lawsuit alleging they were sexually harassed while working for the force.

The committee began looking into harassment of female officers within the ranks of the RCMP and of woman throughout the federal workforce after CBC News broke the story of former officer Catherine Galliford's alleged harassment more than a year ago.

Carle says she believes some of the seven Conservative MPs who hold the majority of the 12 seats on the committee are trying to silence her.

"Some of Canada's bravest women received a terrible blow yesterday from their own government — to be muzzled by our own government after finally having the courage to speak up," Carle said Friday.

Carle said she is used to being silenced. When the former corporal and three other female officers accused RCMP Sgt. Robert Blundell of sexual assault in the late 1990s, they weren't allowed to testify then either, she alleges.

"I speak for countless numbers of women," she said.

Yesterday, only one former Mountie, who is not currently involved in any litigation against the RCMP, got to tell the committee about her years of working under a male boss at the RCMP.

"My supervisor — the one who was in charge of me — and another officer thought it was funny to call me 'beaver' and 'raisin tits,' not only in the office but on the radio and in public," Sherry-Lee Benson-Podolchuk testified on Thursday. "And when I would sign birthday cards they would put 'Beaver' or 'Raisin Tits' under my name," said Benson-Podolchuk.

Judy Sgro, vice chair of the committee, is angry about the decision to cancel Carle's appearance.

"To not hear from a woman who was an integral part of the sexual harassment for many years, to not to hear them when we heard from Mr. Paulson who admitted there were some issues, and to deny the committee the opportunity to hear in detail more on some of these issues — we only have, I believe, these two individuals who are going to speak directly to it — I think really leaves the committee at a disadvantage," the Liberal MP said.

The NDP says if the harassment lawsuits are an issue, the federal government should settle them and listen to the alleged victims' stories.

"What we've called on the government to do is start a process of reconciliation with these women and not drag them through the courts for years and years," said NDP MP Randall Garrison.

"It's shameful what is happening and it's an affront to women on International Women's Day," Carle said.

But Carle and other former female Mounties may still get a chance to tell their stories on Parliament Hill, because the Senate plans to launch its own investigation into the allegations of sexual harassment within the RCMP.

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