Opinion Column

Paulson out of touch with issues at hand

LEO KNIGHT
RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson recently apologized for having on-duty Mounties serve in his wedding's "honour guard". (FILE PHOTO)

RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson recently apologized for having on-duty Mounties serve in his wedding's "honour guard". (FILE PHOTO)

No matter what, RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson can't seem to get it right.

Last month, he got into a very public email peeing contest with a veteran officer in the Ridge Meadows Detachment, which he should have apologized for, and now he's apologized for something he shouldn't have done.

The latest flap, for which he issued his apology, occurred because he had an honour guard in Red Serge at his recent marriage to Erin O'Gorman, a Transport Canada director general. This is not unusual for RCMP members. Serving members of the force typically get married in Red Serge and long formal blue trousers with Congress boots and spurs called "Walking Out Order" of dress.

This is often done with an honour guard with members dressed in the more familiar red serge, high brown boots and breeches called "Review Order" of dress. The honour guard carries lances tipped with red-and-white streamers they use to form an arch for the couple to walk through when exiting the church.

All very routine. What wasn't routine, however, was the honour guard at Paulson's wedding were technically on duty. Not friends or acquaintances of the commissioner, but members on the equestrian course, which is the preparatory training for officers wishing to join the iconic Musical Ride.

According to spokesman Cpl. David Falls, the commissioner was not informed of their duty status, he had simply requested the Corps Sgt. Major to arrange an honour guard.

So what?

The members took a few hours from their yearlong training assignment learning to ride horses, shoveling dung from stables and they like to form a honour guard for the most senior member of their organization. I'm sure they were more than happy to put down their shovels for the afternoon. It's not like they were taken from operational roles protecting the public to stand for the commissioner at his wedding.

Why the flap and the apology? Honestly, I don't understand. Frankly, it makes the commissioner look weak and over-reacting to a media inquiry. He should have simply explained the situation and painted it as the non-story it really was.

Recent troubles for the beleaguered commissioner have caused a media 'piling-on' effect and in apologizing in this manner the commissioner fed the baying hounds.

I don't know who advises the Paulson on the RCMP's media-relations strategy, but I do know this was the wrong thing for him to do. As was not apologizing for his email blistering of Staff Sgt. Tim Chad.

The RCMP and the country really need for him to start getting it right.

Leo Knight@primetimecrime


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