Friday, March 19th, 2004
Bob Stenhouse, forced from the RCMP four years ago after he leaked biker gang strategy to a journalist, has been granted a new hearing.
The federal court set aside the Edmonton officer's dismissal, saying the RCMP did not fairly investigate and prosecute the internal complaint against him.
"The day I handed in my badge was a dark day," Stenhouse said Friday, choked with emotion.
Four years ago, he admitted giving documents about the RCMP's biker gang strategy to journalist Yves Lavigne, who quoted the information in a book.
He says he was frustrated by the way the police service was handling crime committed by the Hells Angels, that it amounted to a public relations exercise rather than policing. He argued that he was trying to get the RCMP to pursue the biker gangs more aggressively.
He says he's seen a change in RCMP biker gang policies since then.
But the RCMP wasn't pleased with the leak and ordered an internal disciplinary hearing, which removed Stenhouse from the force in 2002.
He fought his dismissal and Federal Court Justice Michael Kelen ruled that he didn't get a fair hearing. Kelen said the initial review committee should have allowed documents that showed RCMP Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli was inappropriately involved in the case. He corresponded with the committee reviewing Stenhouse's case.
"I would like to cross examine the commissioner. I would like to have the opportunity to cross examine some very senior executives that have shown in the documents that the RCMP had some responsibility in this whole drama, when I brought my frustrations to them in the first place," Stenhouse said.
RCMP Staff Sgt. Paul Marsh says it's important to note that Kelen ruled that the so-called whistle-blowers' defence doesn't apply in Stenhouse's case.
"I'm speaking in general terms here," Marsh said. "We can't have employees willy nilly deciding to leak information to outside sources. It would compromise investigations, it could compromise national security."
Kelen ordered that Stenhouse, who had spent 20 years with the RCMP, be reinstated and get a new hearing.
If the RCMP doesn't appeal the ruling, he will be reinstated at his staff sargent rank, but remain under suspension. Stenhouse, who started a consulting business in Edmonton, says he doesn't know if he wants to return to the RCMP.