A Codiac RCMP officer who admitted deleting a 25-minute surveillance video has been docked 25 days' pay.
Const. Graham Bourque, a 13-year veteran of the RCMP who's worked in various jurisdictions in Canada and has been suspended with pay since December 2020, will be immediately returned to duty.
The punishment was imposed for two violations in Moncton of the force's code of conduct — discreditable conduct and failing to provide complete and accurate accounts of his work.
The disciplinary process against Bourque was held in accordance with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act and carried out by the force's conduct board.
RCMP conduct boards look into the most serious cases of police misconduct — ones where dismissal is on the table. They are formal, court-like processes and the adjudicators have the legal authority to order disciplinary measures, such as loss of pay or dismissal.
The prosecutor-like representative for the "conduct authority" had been seeking Bourque's immediate dismissal and didn't back down from that position in her final remarks on Friday morning.
In her decision on Friday afternoon, conduct board chair Louise Morel, whose role is similar to a judge in a criminal trial, said dismissal was "disproportionate to the gravity of Mr. Bourque's conduct."
The allegations against Bourque arose from a 2019 Codiac RCMP drug investigation code-name J Trilogy, and centred around a 25-minute surveillance video that Bourque deleted.
Cpl. Mathieu Potvin, who faced the same allegations as Bourque, was cleared of both counts by Morel on Thursday.
During his testimony, Bourque admitted to deleting a video he had taken during surveillance with three other officers.
Bourque said he didn't think the surveillance footage was valuable as evidence. He said it was a very brief, and poor quality video of the target, Jesse Logue, leaving a property on Donovan Terrace in Moncton.
As he rushed to continue following Logue, Bourque said he tossed the camera, not realizing it continued to record. He said the extra 25 minutes showed nothing but black, but it captured the sound of police radio chatter and a private conversation Bourque had with his wife.
He said he was concerned about the conversation being turned over to Logue if charges were laid as part of disclosure of the Crown's evidence.
Wanted Bourque's dismissal
Sabine Georges, the conduct authority representative whose function was similar to a prosecutor in a criminal case, wanted Bourque's dismissal.
She was asked on Thursday by Morel to bring alternative suggestions to Friday's punishment hearing.
"The conduct authority is well aware of that request, ma'am, and the conduct authority does not have any alternative measures to offer at this moment," Georges said on Friday.
"And just to clarify, the conduct authority is seeking dismissal."
Georges said "the conduct authority in this case, which is the CEO of J Division, no longer has faith or trust in Const. Bourque's ability to continue his employment with the RCMP with integrity."
"Dishonesty, lack of integrity and lack of accountability are contrary to the core values of the RCMP."
'I was, and I am still, proud to be a Mountie'
When he had a chance to address the board, Bourque apologized to fellow officers and took full responsibility for his actions.
"I deleted that video."
Bourque said he is "open to all and any opportunities to improve and grow and want you to know that I'm committed to learning from this mistake and ensuring that nothing somewhat similar occurs in the future."
Bourque ended by saying, "I was, and I am still, proud to be a Mountie."
In his remarks on Friday, David Bright, a lawyer representing Bourque, took issue with George's assertion that the administration of justice had been affected by Bourque's actions.
"J Triology went to its completion. Mr Logue was convicted and sentenced.
He also took issue with George's statement that the RCMP had lost confidence in Bourque.
"There is nothing before you by way of evidence, which would suggest that the federal Crown has lost confidence in the RCMP over this, or indeed lost confidence with respect to Const. Bourque."
Bright said no evidence was entered during the hearing to support the statement.
"I would respectfully submit that you need evidence and not suggestions or inferences in that regard."
Bright also mentioned several letters of reference submitted to the board about Bourque, most from RCMP officers who had supervised Bourqe over the last decade.
All spoke very highly of him.
"So I would respectfully suggest to you," said Bright, "clearly these two allegations are a one-off. No suggestion of anything before. No suggestion of anything after."
Bright said there were 4,004 personnel reports about Bourque, written by his director supervisors, which "are all highly supportive."
"They speak highly of his ability as a police officer, his integrity, things of that nature," he told Morel, asking her to take them into consideration when determining Bourque's punishment.
He said police officers are human and they make mistakes.
"What we have here is a man who made an error in judgment," Bright said.
"He has much to offer the RCMP. He has much to offer people in his community."