Outspoken Mountie who won't shave goatee removed from regular duty

An RCMP officer who was reprimanded last week for voicing displeasure about senior management has now been assigned administrative duties because he's refusing to shave off his goatee.

Cpl. Pat Bouchard first got into hot water after speaking to CBC News outside the Moncton, N.B. courthouse on Sept. 29, when the RCMP was found guilty of breaking the Canada Labour Code in connection with the deaths of three Mounties who were victims of shooting rampage on June 4, 2014.

Bouchard, who was among those who worked a 33-hour shift on the day of the shooting and counted the three murdered constables as friends, criticized the absence of any senior managers in the courtroom on the day of the judge's ruling.

"The rank and file are here," he said at the time. "The people that lived through this are here. We're not forgetting."

Last week, Bouchard received an internal document reprimanding him for going against RCMP policy by speaking to the media without authorization.

"I was informed in the document that because of my comments, I did not meet the basic competencies required for my position," Bouchard said in an interview with CBC News late last week.

Shave or civvies

That interview appears to have made the situation worse. On Tuesday, while in the middle of his shift, Bouchard was told to go home and shave off his goatee.

"The reason I was given was that I was putting myself in jeopardy, in contradiction of the Canada Labour Code, because of an issued piece of equipment we have, which is a particulate filter mask," he told the CBC after his shift.

Bouchard said he was told there were concerns his short-trimmed goatee would prevent him from getting a proper seal when wearing a face mask that filters out particulate matter and volatile chemicals.

The thing is, Bouchard explained, he had not yet been issued a face mask despite undergoing training two months ago, as none were available in his size.

After informing his supervisor he would not shave off his goatee, the 14-year veteran of the force said he was instructed to report to work today in civilian clothes and do office work.

"The important thing for me is to do police work. I mean I'm a policeman. I'm supposed to be on the road, answer calls, supervise my team. That's my job. Now I'm being told to do strictly administrative duties," he said.

Bouchard also received a special delivery.

"Well, when I received the mask today I performed a seal test like they instructed us on the course and was able to demonstrate to myself and to other members that the mask provided a fit, even with my goatee on. I asked if I could return to my operational duties and I was told to hold off and wait."

When asked for comment, the RCMP responded that it would be inappropriate to do so.

In the meantime, Bouchard said he's confident the order to shave has nothing to do with his brand new face mask.

Beard ban not the issue?

"I believe this is all stemming from the comments I made, because prior to the comments I made, I was just another small cog in the big machine," he said.

Even though several other police forces allow officers to sport goatees, RCMP rules stipulate no hair on any Mounties' chins.

Moustaches, however, are permitted.

Bouchard is among many male members of the national police force who started sporting facial hair this spring in support of the yellow stripe campaign, which seeks to raise awareness about RCMP working conditions.

That protest saw some members covering up the distinctive yellow strip on their uniform pants. But due to a national shortage of yellow-striped work pants, many Mounties are already wearing stripeless cargo pants and so have chosen to grow a beard or goatee to make their point.