Outspoken Mountie assigned to admin duties for refusing to shave goatee

Outspoken Mountie assigned to admin duties for refusing to shave goatee

The 15-year veteran of the force said he believes the RCMP is targeting him

A New Brunswick RCMP corporal who was rebuked for publicly criticizing the force’s top brass said Thursday he was assigned to administrative duties for refusing to shave off his goatee.

Cpl. Patrick Bouchard said he has had the goatee for two months, grown in support of the member’s yellow stripe campaign, which seeks to raise awareness about RCMP working conditions.

Bouchard said he was told on Tuesday afternoon, in the middle of his shift, to go home and shave the goatee.

The 40-year-old said the RCMP told him he was in contravention of the Canada Labour Code because a particulate filter mask used by the force would not seal properly on his face with the goatee, and that his safety was at risk.

He said when he “respectfully declined” to shave, he was told to report to work Wednesday in civilian clothing and perform administrative duties.

The 15-year veteran of the force said he believes the RCMP is targeting him for speaking out after the force was convicted last month of failing to provide its members with adequate weapons and training in the 2014 Moncton shooting that left three officers dead.

“I’ve had the goatee for two months and this is just starting to be an issue now. I find the timing of it quite suspicious,” said Bouchard in an interview Thursday.

“Other members have beards and they haven’t been issued sanctions, yet now I am being issued sanctions and being issued punitive reactions. To me that’s punitive and nobody else is being called to do that, just me.”

READ MORE: Chilliwack Mounties join the ‘no stripe’ campaign to protest wages

The RCMP said in an email statement late Thursday said it would be “inappropriate for us to comment” on the Bouchard matter.

But it said the force’s policy is for officers to keep their face clean shaven, with exceptions for religious or medical reasons.

“If a moustache is grown, it must be neatly trimmed, conservative and not excessive or unsightly,” the statement said.

The statement also said respirators are part of “established safety procedures when dealing with toxic substances and their effectiveness can be compromised by facial hair.”

“If an employee cannot be clean shaven, they cannot be involved in any work that involves the handling of toxic substances,” it said.

Bouchard, who is stationed at a detachment in Sunny Corner, N.B., told reporters after the Moncton verdict that the decision exposed the divide between the RCMP’s top ranks and Mounties on the ground, noting a conspicuous absence of senior managers in the courtroom.

Bouchard received a document last week stating that his comments were unacceptable. He says the “performance log” indicated that due to his comments, which had been televised, he did not meet the “basic competencies” required by his position.

He said at the time he was told to shave, he had not even received his particulate filter mask yet, despite being trained on the device months earlier. When he brought this to the RCMP’s attention, the mask was delivered the next day, he said.

Bouchard also says he had the goatee during training on the mask and it wasn’t an issue.

His goatee is part of the yellow stripe campaign, which seeks to draw attention to a multitude of issues including staffing, retention, recruitment, equipment and resource levels within the RCMP. Mounties have been removing the yellow stripe from their uniform, and others have been growing facial hair.

“We finally are in the process of getting an association that represents us, but we don’t have one yet. The yellow stripe movement was meant to unify the membership,” he said. “But instead of addressing the issues that we’re trying to bring forward, (management) have chosen to put their efforts into making my life difficult.”

Bouchard said he has received hundreds of messages of support from other rank and file members.

“I believe I have a responsibility to speak out,” he said. “I knew (Constables Fabrice Gevaudan, Dave Ross and Doug Larche). They were my colleagues and friends. I feel compelled to bring these issues forward so that more members don’t get hurt or injured when it could be prevented.”

The three Mounties were killed by Justin Bourque during a shooting rampage in June 2014.

In June, Bouchard wrote an open letter on Facebook condemning the testimony of then-commissioner Bob Paulson in the trial as a clear failure of leadership.

Paulson had testified that management had concerns over the possible militarization of the force as it prepared to arm officers with carbine rifles.

The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Grads at Riverside Park in Vanderhoof, B.C. (Aman Parhar/Omineca Express)
Vanderhoof celebrates 2021 graduates

NVSS grads got together at Riverside Park on Friday, June 11 in… Continue reading

Singing and drumming was heard in downtown Vanderhoof on Monday, June 14. (Aman Parhar/Omineca Express)
Photos: Honour Walk held in Vanderhoof

An honour walk was held Monday June 14 in Vanderhoof, remembering the… Continue reading

Emergency crews responded to the scene of a suspicious fire at the southeast corner of the OK Café in Vanderhoof Friday, June 11. The historic building is 101-years-old. (BC RCMP photo)
OK Café in Vanderhoof alright after suspicious fire

Damage kept to a minimum by firefighters

A person receives a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. Northern Health confirmed it has the lowest vaccination rates amongst the province’s five regional health authorities. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
Vaccination rates in Vanderhoof, Fraser Lake, Fort St James well below provincial average

COVID-19 immunization clinics for youth 12+ coming up in Fort St. James

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

(pixabay file shot)
B.C. ombudsperson labels youth confinement in jail ‘unsafe,’ calls for changes

Review states a maximum of 22 hours for youth, aged 12 from to 17, to be placed in solitary

Eleonore Alamillo-Laberge, 6, reads a book in Ottawa on Monday, June 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Parents will need to fight ‘COVID learning slump’ over summer: B.C. literacy experts

Parents who play an active role in educating their children this summer can reverse the slump by nearly 80%, says Janet Mort

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

The B.C. government’s vaccine booking website is busy processing second-dose appointments, with more than 76 per cent of adults having received a first dose. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations stable for Tuesday

108 new confirmed cases, 139 in hospital, 39 in intensive care

A worker, at left, tends to a customer at a cosmetics shop amid the COVID-19 pandemic Thursday, May 20, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Half of cosmetics sold in Canada, U.S. contain toxic chemicals: study

Researchers found that 56% of foundations and eye products contain high levels of fluorine

White Rock’s Marine Drive has been converted to one-way traffic to allow more patio space for waterfront restaurants. (Peace Arch News)
Province promotes permanent pub patios in B.C. post-pandemic plan

More than 2,000 temporary expansions from COVID-19 rules

Most Read