Focus on new commissioner shouldn't be gender, says RCMP women's council chair

Mountie sues RCMP, alleging 'systemic harassment'

Brenda Lucki has been named as the new commissioner for the RCMP and heralded as the first woman to permanently take on the top job.

Jane Hall, the chair of the RCMP Veterans' Women's Council and author of its 2014 report,Addressing a Crisis in Leadership, said she is disappointed that the focus has been on Lucki as a woman, rather than on the expertise she brings to the position.

"She has 31 years service. She was selected from a highly competitive and qualified field and yet focusing so much of the media attention on the fact that she's a woman almost undermines her credibility," Hall said.

Hall herself served in the RCMP all over the Lower Mainland for more than two decades and wrote about it in her book The Red Wall: A Woman In The RCMP.

A change in leadership at the top level is crucial to addressing the cultural challenges within the RCMP, Hall told Stephen Quinn, the host of CBC's The Early Edition.

"If the leadership portion is addressed, then all of the harassment, abuse of authority, all of the problems that come from not just gender issues but from race and fairness within the promotion process will all fall into line," she said.

Tools for change

When she was appointed commissioner, Lucki acknowledged some of the challenges she will face and vowed "no stone will be left unturned" in her mission to bring about cultural change and address the leadership issues.

"As commissioner, I will count on your support," Lucki said. "I will not have all the answers, but I definitely plan on asking all the right questions and maybe some difficult ones."

It's not a mission that can be accomplished alone, Hall agreed.

"It's very hard to bring in a cultural change to an organization where the basic needs of work-life balance and staffing and payment isn't in place yet," she said.

"There are things that have to be done at the government level to give commissioner Lucki the tools to actually effect that kind of cultural change."

With files from The Early Edition.