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‘Disgusting’: Ex-Mountie who won first sexual harassment suit against the RCMP says little has changed

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Alice Clark wanted to be a Mountie before women were even permitted to join the force.

But when she joined in 1981, it wasn’t the honourable job she was expecting. After experiencing years of harassment, Clark left the force and became the first woman to successfully sue the RCMP for sexual harassment.


READ MORE:
$220M and counting: The cost of the RCMP’s ‘culture of dysfunction’

It’s been 25 years since, and while she’s grateful that more women are coming forward to support one another, she hasn’t seen the change she was hoping for.

“It’s disgusting that things haven’t changed,” she says.

WATCH: Alice Clark on the sexual harassment and culture of bullying in the RCMP







Whether the recently announced civilian advisory board will be able to address the scourge of sexual harassment in the RCMP remains to be seen. However, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said its first priority will be addressing internal bullying and harassment. Since Clark first came forward, more than 3,100 sexual harassment claims have been made under the Merlo-Davidson class-action settlement alone.

“I earned my right to wear that serge,” she says, decades later, her voice breaking. “I knew they were doing this to other people, too, and it had to stop.”

It didn’t. The RCMP settled the Merlo-Davidson suit for $100 million in 2016. Former commissioner Bob Paulson offered an unequivocal apology: “We failed you.”

Alice Clark, pictured at home in Nanaimo, B.C., with her RCMP graduation photo from 1981.

Jane Gerster/Global News

Mounties get their ma’am

Clark looked at the red serge and saw honour and integrity. And then: “Mounties finally get their ma’am,” read the caption in the March 4, 1975 edition of the Toronto Star. The picture shows the first, stern-faced women Mounties in skirts and fancy red shirts, arms swinging straight as they marched.

Clark joined their ranks in 1981; she is beaming in her graduation photo. She started in Bonnyville, Alta., as the detachment’s first woman, and another followed soon after.

WATCH: Alice Clark explains how male troops in the RCMP used to bark at female troops during training







When Clark was transferred southwest to Red Deer in September 1981, the harassment began.

There were plastic breasts left on her desk, she says, and a supervisor who called every man by his name but patted her shoulder and called her “dearie.” There were the men who told her to go home, have a baby and be a “real woman,” other men who called her foul words and others still who insisted she was a “waste of a uniform.” Then, there was the Mountie who asked her to have sex with him in the back of his squad car while she was guarding a dead body. An RCMP spokesperson said the force would not provide specific comment on Clark’s case.

WATCH: Why the first woman to sue the RCMP for sexual harassment wanted to be a Mountie







The stress started to get to her. Clark could barely get through a single workday so she thought in 15-minute increments: 15, deep breath, another 15, deep breath, half-hour gone.

“It was horrible,” Clark says.

When she could no longer bear to go to work, Clark filed an internal harassment complaint and took a transfer north to Beaverlodge. Work was starting to get better, she says, and then within a span of weeks, she got a note saying her harassment complaint was unfounded. Soon after, her sergeant told her the RCMP had laid assault charges against her in connection with old arrests.

It was unexpected, Clark says. In one case, she had been tasked with dealing with a drunk woman who refused to take off her jewelry and “things kind of went downhill from there.” Clark characterizes it as “hair-pulling” incident (she pulled the woman’s hair) in which her colleagues watched rather than assisted. In the second case, she says, she had pulled over a drunk driver after a high-speed chase. She didn’t realize the woman was quite small when she pulled her out of her car, Clark says, but as soon as she did she adjusted her hold.

Clark was done.

She quit in 1987, thinking the Mounties would drop the charges and finally leave her alone. They didn’t. After she was acquitted of the charges, Clark sued. She maintains that the force only charged her because she never shied away from speaking up about sexual harassment.An RCMP spokesperson said the force would not provide specific comment on Clark’s case.

“I put so much of myself into that job, into that serge,” Clark says, her voice almost breaking.

“I gave them a piece of me, a big chunk, and it was not easy for me to lay that harassment complaint. It wasn’t easy to turn in my red serge.”

From one woman to thousands

Janet Merlo remembers the nasty comments from people on the internet when she took her story public: She can’t take a joke, she has no place in the force, I bet she wishes she’d been harassed, she’s a shitty cop, she’s probably a terrible mother.

She was there in 2016 when Paulson, the former RCMP commissioner, apologized on behalf of the force to its women members.

WATCH: Historian explains how the Mounties’ modern scandals are nothing new







Now and then, Merlo says, women send her copies of the statements they plan to submit as part of their application for compensation under the $100-million settlement.

The women detail sexual assaults and unlawful confinements and other similarly serious charges, Merlo says. She reads the statements, which independent investigators are still combing through, evaluating and — when deemed credible — assigning a monetary value. So far, investigators have opened more than 3,100 claims.

RCMP commissioner Bob Paulson, left, answers a question during a news conference, as plaintiffs Janet Merlo, centre, and Linda Davidson look on, in Ottawa Thursday, Oct. 6, 2016. Paulson has apologized to hundreds of current and former female officers and employees for alleged incidents of bullying, discrimination and harassment.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

The public likely won’t hear those stories, even the ones deemed credible. The information they submit is not shared with the force. Per an RCMP spokesperson, the force only reviews information if a claimant “chooses to bring [it] forward” and it concerns a serving member.

“We’ve had a public apology, they’re paying all these RCMP female victims money,” says Dr. Greg Passey, a psychiatrist who has worked with Mounties for more than two decades. “But how many of the accused, how many of the harassers have actually come forward and there’s been any accountability?

RCMP spokesperson Daniel Brien said the RCMP “does not have the authority to provide information on specific conduct files to the public and media” due to privacy legislation but that employees are “expected to conduct themselves in a manner that meets the rightfully high expectations of Canadians.”

Without those stories, Passey says, the country “truly doesn’t understand the extent of this problem.”


READ MORE:
Resistance to reform: Is civilian oversight the magic bullet the Mounties need?

While the RCMP has acknowledged that it failed its female members, Merlo says she’s still waiting for accountability.

“What other organization in Canada can have a lawsuit so big, and yet nobody has ever been investigated?” she says. “Nobody is charged. Nobody is reprimanded. Nobody is fired. We’re not talking bad jokes here. We’re talking sexual assaults and unlawful confinement. All kinds of serious charges.”

Brien said the force is “focused on taking any steps possible to ensure a safe and respectful work environment” and noted that the RCMP has “enhanced and updated established policies and programs” in support of that goal.

‘You get so beaten down in this process’

Deciding to speak publicly against the RCMP isn’t easy, says Alice Fox, a former Mountie discharged in late 2017.

Fox has fought her own battles with the RCMP and is fighting one now with PTSD. She’s trying to articulate why the Mounties — women in particular — haven’t seemed to be able to make a difference, even decades after women like Clark made national news by going public with the sexual harassment they faced.

WATCH: ‘Being a martyr in this game will kill you,’ says former Mountie







“You get so beaten down in this process,” Fox says. Her voice is slow and her words carefully chosen, in part because she has a non-disclosure agreement with the force as the result of a harassment lawsuit she settled with them in November 2017. Many Mounties, past and present, are careful with their words for similar reasons; some won’t even talk, the risk feels too great.

“Being silenced is a difficult place to be,” Fox says, “but it’s the best place to be if it means you get to live.”

The RCMP did not respond to requests for comment about its use of non-disclosure agreements.

That women who were harassed in the 1980s and into the 21st century say there has been no internal accountability should be cause for concern, says Passey, the doctor who works with Mounties and specializes in PTSD.

WATCH: ‘The population truly doesn’t understand the extent of this problem’







The federal government has had years and years to deal with this, he says — a 2013 Senate report urged federal leadership to act, noting there is “little margin for error” — but instead, Canada has gone from a handful of women like Clark to thousands, not including the thousands of men coming forward with their own $1.1-billion class-action harassment lawsuit.

“The whole culture is used to this whole idea of being able to abuse power without any accountability, without any responsibility,” says Passey.

RCMP spokesperson Brien noted that the force’s “members are subject to the same laws as all Canadian citizens.”

People would face repercussions for their actions if there was accountability, both Clark and Passey agree. And yet, Passey says, when allegations are made public, there don’t seem to be any consequences.


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Clark remembers watching the formal RCMP apology. She was insulted. What did leaders of the force do when they saw women being harassed? Did they step up or speak out? She wants to know. It’s a question many have asked: how many of the harassers or those who witnessed harassment but said nothing have come forward, have been held to account?

Brien said the force is bound to an extent by privacy legislation but that it “addresses conduct issues in a timely, efficient and fair manner.”

Clark is still waiting for an answer.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Anglais

Nostalgia and much more with Starburst XXXtreme

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Get a taste of adventure with Starburst XXXtreme based on the legendary NetEnt Game. The nostalgic themes are sure to capture fans of the classic version as they get treated to higher intensity, better visuals, and features. The most significant element of the game is its volatility. Patience will not be an essential virtue considering the insane gameplay, and there is a lot of win potential involved. It retains the original makeup of the previous game while adding a healthy dose of adrenaline. 

Starburst Visuals and Symbols

The game is definitely more conspicuous than before. The setting happens over a 5-reel, 3-row game grid with nine fixed win lines, which function if a succession from the left to the right reel is present. Only those players that that attain the highest win per bet line are paid. From a visual standpoint, the Starburst XXXtreme slots illustrates lightning effects behind the reels, which is not surprising as it is inherited from the original version. Available themes include Classic, Jewels, and Space. The game is also available in both desktop and mobile versions, which is advantageous for players considering the global pandemic. According to Techguide, American gamers are increasingly having more engaging gaming experiences to socialize to fill the gap of in-person interaction. Starburst XXXtreme allows them to fill the social void at a time when there is so much time to be had indoors. 

Starburst XXXTreme Features

Players get to alternate on three features which are Starburst Wilds, XXXtreme Spins, and Random Wilds. The first appears on reels 2,3, or 4. When these land, they expand to cover all positions while also calculating the wins. They are also locked for a respin. If a new one hits, it also becomes locked while awarding another respin. Starburst XXXtreme offers a choice between two scenarios for a higher stake. In one scenario with a ten times stake, the Starburst Wild is set on random on reels 2,3, or 4, and a multiplier starts the respin. The second scenario, which has a 95 times stake, starts with two guaranteed starburst wilds on reels 2,3, or 4. it also plays out using respin game sequence and features. The game also increases the potential with the Random Wilds feature to add Starburst Wilds to a vacant reel at the end of a spin. Every Starburst Wild gives a random multiplier with potential wins of x2, x3, x5, x10, x25, x50, x100, or even x150.

The new feature is sure to be a big hit with the gaming market as online gambling has shown significant growth during the lockdown. AdAge indicates the current casino customer base is an estimated one in five Americans, so Starburst XXXtreme’s additional features will achieve considerable popularity. 

What We Think About The Game

The gambling market has continued to diversify post-pandemic, so it is one of the most opportune times to release an online casino-based game. Thankfully Starburst XXXtreme features eye-catching visuals, including the jewels and space themes. These attract audience participation and make the gameplay inviting. The game also has a nostalgic edge. The previous NetEnt iteration featured similar visuals and gameplay, so the audience has some familiarity with it. The producers have revamped this version by tweaking the features to improve the volatility and engagement. 

That is characterized by the potential win cap of 200,000 times the bet. Starburst XXXtreme does not just give betting alternatives for players that want to go big. The increase of multipliers also provides a great experience. If the respins in the previous version were great, knowing that multipliers can go hundreds of times overtakes the game to a new level. 

Players should get excited about this offering. All of the features can be triggered within a single spin. Whether one plays the standard game or takes the XXXtreme spin route, it is possible to activate all of the features. Of course, the potential 200,000 times potential is a huge carrot. However, the bet size is probably going to be restricted and vary depending on the casino. It is also worth pointing out that a malfunction during the gameplay will void all of the payouts and progress. Overall, the game itself has been designed to provide a capped win of 200,000 times the original bet. 

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Anglais

‘We’re back’: Montreal festival promoters happy to return but looking to next year

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In downtown Montreal, it’s festival season.

In the city’s entertainment district, a musical act was conducting a sound check on stage Friday evening — the second day of the French-language version of the renowned Just For Laughs comedy festival. Tickets for many of the festival’s free outdoor shows — limited by COVID-19 regulations — were sold out.

Two blocks away, more than 100 people were watching an acoustic performance by the Isaac Neto Trio — part of the last weekend of the Festival International Nuits d’Afrique, a celebration of music from the African continent and the African diaspora.

With COVID-19 restrictions continuing to limit capacity, festival organizers say they’re glad to be back but looking forward to next year when they hope border restrictions and capacity limits won’t affect their plans.

Charles Décarie, Just For Laughs’ CEO and president, said this is a “transition year.”

“Even though we have major constraints from the public health group in Montreal, we’ve managed to design a festival that can navigate through those constraints,” Décarie said.

The French-language Juste pour rire festival began on July 15 and is followed by the English-language festival until July 31.

When planning began in February and March, Décarie said, organizers came up with a variety of scenarios for different crowd sizes, ranging from no spectators to 50 per cent of usual capacity.

“You’ve got to build scenarios,” he said. “You do have to plan a little bit more than usual because you have to have alternatives.”

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Anglais

MELS new major movie studio to be built in Montreal

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MONTREAL — MELS Studios will build a new film studio in Montreal, filling some of the gap in supply to meet the demand of Hollywood productions.

MELS president Martin Carrier said on Friday that MELS 4 studio construction will begin « as soon as possible », either in the fall or winter of next year. The studio could host productions as early as spring 2023.

The total investment for the project is $76 million, with the Quebec government contributing a $25 million loan. The project will create 110 jobs, according to the company.

The TVA Group subsidiary’s project will enable it to stand out « even more » internationally, according to Quebecor president and CEO Pierre Karl Péladeau. In the past, MELS Studios has hosted several major productions, including chapters of the X-Men franchise. The next Transformers movie is shooting this summer in Montreal.

Péladeau insisted that local cultural productions would also benefit from the new facility, adding that the studio ensures foreign revenues and to showcase talent and maintain an industry of Quebec producers.

STUDIO SHORTAGE

The film industry is cramped in Montreal.

According to a report published last May by the Bureau du cinéma et de la télévision du Québec (BCTQ), there is a shortage of nearly 400,000 square feet of studio space.

With the addition of MELS 4, which will be 160,000 square feet, the company is filling part of the gap.

Carrier admitted that he has had to turn down contracts because of the lack of space, representing missed opportunities of « tens of millions of dollars, not only for MELS, but also for the Quebec economy. »

« Montreal’s expertise is in high demand, » said Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante, who was present at the announcement.

She said she received great testimonials from « Netflix, Disney, HBO and company » during an economic mission to Los Angeles in 2019.

« What stands out is that they love Montreal because of its expertise, knowledge and beauty. We need more space, like MELS 4, » she said.

There is still not enough capacity in Quebec, acknowledged Minister of Finance, the Economy and Innovation Eric Girard.

« It is certain that the government is concerned about fairness and balance, so if other requests come in, we will study them with the same seriousness as we have studied this one, » he said.

Grandé Studios is the second-largest player in the industry. Last May, the company said it had expansion plans that should begin in 2022. Investissement Québec and Bell are minority shareholders in the company.

For its part, MELS will have 400,000 square feet of production space once MELS 4 is completed. The company employs 450 people in Quebec and offers a range of services including studio and equipment rentals, image and sound postproduction, visual effects and a virtual production platform.

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