Thursday, October 31, 2019


The front page article in today's Waterloo Region Record is titled "Female officers' suit won't be heard". The Supreme Court of Canada have determined that they won't hear an appeal of the original case. The Supreme Court does not provide reasons for dismissing an appeal application. The case that the Supreme Court have chosen not to hear is the class action suit filed a couple of years ago (or more) by three former Waterloo Region Police Service (WRPS) officers on behalf of female officers, past and present, of the WRPS.

Our local courts who have a sometimes strange decision making process (see October 26/19 posting here), this time were supported by the Ontario Court of Appeal who felt that the class action lawsuit should not proceed because female officers should address their grievances through their collective agreement or through the province's human rights tribunal. The Appeal Court also suggested that the plaintiffs "...had not presented evidence to show that the union grievance process didn't work."

I would expect that the WRPS "union" known as the Waterloo Regional Police Association has been very careful not to send out biased or misogynistic written rejection letters to female officers with grievances. I also know from first hand experience at the City of Waterloo that their union (a real union not an association) was male dominated and not the least concerned with the treatment of the few female members they had a couple of decades ago.

The plaintiffs and their lawyer have made some interesting comments regarding the most recent Supreme Court non-decision. Ms. Rivers suggests that it is unfortunate that the courts aren't more progressive and her lawyer, Mr. Elliot, suggests that the Waterloo Regional Police Association is part of the problem, not part of the solution. Also he advised that police "unions" really are not unions and their members do not have a right to strike. They are merely associations with the right to bargain with the employer. Mr. Elliot stated that "The judges didn't seem to appreciate the distinction."

The allegations in the class action suit included gender bias, sexual harassment, and discrimination in job postings and promotions. Interestingly despite past criticism by myself of WRPS lawyer James Bennett, in fact as reported here on July 4/19, he has publicly admitted transgressions by the WRPS towards female officers although he stated that they should be resolved elsewhere than through the courts.

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