Toronto Star

Office of the Editor

While reading the December 9th edition of the Toronto Star I came upon an article concerning the RCMP in the Opinion Section written by current affairs reporter Heather Mallick.  This reporter has written on many topics in the past and for the most part her articles seemed professionally written and balanced.  This one however I found disturbing.

Under the headline “RCMP displays ‘pure cruelty’ in charging shooter’s wife”, she proceeds to state the RCMP, “arguably the meanest and most incompetent police force in Canada, really outdid itself before, during and after the mass slaughter of 22 people”.  (Why?)  “That’s because it’s Nova Scotia, a have-not Province where it’s easier to disdain the population you police and get away with it”.  

In parts of the article, she writes:

  •  NS politicians “are cemented in place, there are fewer journalists to make a noise”
  • RCMP actions (were/are) “duplicitous and cowardly”
  • (suggests) The RCMP has an “always punish the woman first” attitude
  • The RCMP “knew how dangerous Wortman was, always had over the years”
  • The RCMP “knew he had said he wanted to kill a cop, that he was stockpiling weapons, beating Banfield and terrorizing his neighbours”
  • (question) “did he have some kind of pull with the RCMP that made them turn a blind eye to his presence in the drug trade?”
  • “Everyone attached to this police catastrophe has to come clean. Here in Ontario, where we are well acquainted with brutal and incompetent policing, we expect no less”.

This article went on and outlined other complaints which have been mentioned before, on how the RCMP acted during and after the incident. However, I believe it went beyond the bounds of ‘opinion’ when she includes unsubstantiated innuendo and dangerous assumptions along with criticism which appeared to be directed at everyone associated with the RCMP.

As an entity the RCMP is under a microscope and is taking a lot of heat these days and yes, where criticism is warranted it should be acknowledged and dealt with.  However, when this or any criticism is directed at every member and every employee it is not responsible journalism. The Force may not be perfect but to condemn the entire membership for every shortcoming, real or imagined, is blatantly unfair and should not be tolerated. 

The RCMP as a community is composed of Uniformed and Plain Clothes Members, Civilian Members, Special Constable Members, Temporary Civilian Employees, Public Service and Municipal employees. It includes Reserve Constables, Auxiliary Members and ordinary citizen volunteers.  Together they provide a wide range of duties and services and are found in offices and Detachments from Coast to Coast to Coast. Not everyone is mean or cruel, Not everyone is incompetent, Not everyone is duplicitous or cowardly, Not everyone turns a blind eye or disregards policy and procedures. Most are just hard-working individuals trying to do their best.  They are also parents, sons and daughters, community volunteers, coaches and your neighbours.  They are also people who deserve an apology.

After 37 years of service with the RCMP I will readily admit the Force is not perfect.  I will also state with confidence that the majority of those I worked or otherwise interacted with, were dedicated members and employees who competently and properly did their jobs. They also included those who stood up for themselves or stood up for others, challenged management, and helped bring about change.  Although retired for 10 years I still have contact with serving members and my opinion in this regard has not changed.

The average member is someone who wants to serve the public as best as they can.  They deserve an apology for criticisms directed at them on issues they were not part of or had any control over.  They also deserve your respect for faithfully carrying out their duties despite negative publicity, despite the general social justice anti-police sentiment, and despite the uncertainties they face because of the COVID pandemic. 


S.R. (Steve) Semenchuk

RCMP Veterans’ Association
Toronto Division 

L’association des vétérans de la GRC
Division de Toronto