Government appeals ruling on RCMP boss's 'unreasonable' promotion decision | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Government appeals ruling on RCMP boss's 'unreasonable' promotion decision

December 23, 2014 - 1:34 PM

OTTAWA - The federal government is appealing a judge's decision that it was "unreasonable" for the top Mountie to deny a staff sergeant's bid for promotion because of a long-settled allegation of misconduct.

In a ruling last month, Federal Court Justice John O'Keefe directed RCMP commissioner Bob Paulson to do as much as he could to ensure Staff Sgt. Walter Boogaard became an inspector.

Boogaard, 51, has been unsuccessful in advancing due to an episode 14 years ago in which his gun was stolen by two women.

The women said Boogaard had picked them up and was trying to buy sex from one when the other nicked the firearm — a version of events the veteran Mountie denies.

Boogaard's account — that the gun was stolen from his vehicle — was accepted when the matter was addressed by the national police force at the time.

The officer's lawyer, Paul Champ, says a modern police service should be above sidelining someone's career over innuendo.

"This kind of arbitrary action by the Commissioner destroys morale across the entire force because every officer understands that he or she could be treated the same unfair way," Champ said Tuesday.

"Staff Sgt. Boogaard is an officer with an outstanding record and should have been promoted nearly a decade ago but now it seems he will have to wait even longer."

Champ says the case is evidence of continuing bitterness and disillusionment among rank-and-file Mounties despite promises of change.

In documents filed with the Federal Court of Appeal, the government — acting on the RCMP's behalf — argues O'Keefe was mistaken in his findings and asks that the judge's ruling be set aside. It is also asking that costs of the appeal and the lower court hearing be awarded to the government.

Boogaard was reprimanded and ordered to forfeit five days' pay over the gun incident — but it did not end there, even though he has many positive job appraisals in his file.

After being passed over for inspector, Boogaard learned the chair of the board that disciplined him had told his career development adviser "there may have been more to the disciplinary matter."

That prompted Boogaard to file a harassment complaint, which he later grieved and took to the courts.

Meanwhile, Boogaard was selected for an officer's posting in Saskatchewan and his file was forwarded to the RCMP commissioner for approval.

The commissioner examined a copy of the investigation report underlying the firearm incident and his concerns — which he shared with Boogaard's commanding officer — effectively led to denial of the promotion.

Champ wrote to Paulson in July last year asking him to approve his client's advancement based on the findings of a judge and an adjudicator, both of whom looked into Boogaard's harassment complaint.

In a September 2013 letter to Champ, Paulson said an agreed statement of facts in the disciplinary proceedings for the firearm incident were "silent on the full nature of the events" and that Boogaard did not embody "the core values of the RCMP."

Paulson suggested Boogaard might one day be considered for promotion if he chose to "come clean" and "explain his behaviour."

For now, the commissioner said, he would not be promoting Boogaard and the officer should "therefore consider whether he can continue to contribute to the mission of the Force at his current rank."

In his ruling, O'Keefe said Paulson could not revisit the gun's disappearance and "substitute his own judgment" for that of the board.

"I would direct that the Commissioner must do as much as he can to enable the applicant's promotion and that he not withhold his recommendation once a position becomes available."

Follow @JimBronskill on Twitter

News from © The Canadian Press, 2014
The Canadian Press

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