Article originally appeared in the Times Colonist. Photo by Daily News photographer Matthew Gauk.
Cara McKenna/Nanaimo Daily News
Former city Mountie Janet Merlo criticizes 20 years spent with the Nanaimo RCMP in a new tell-all memoir, comparing the things she endured to maggots eating her up inside.
In Merlo’s book, No One to Tell: Breaking My Silence on Life in the RCMP, she writes about alleged experiences with senior management taunting her with sex toys and making coarse sexual remarks. Merlo was discharged from the force in 2010 and launched a proposed class action lawsuit against the RCMP in 2012 that now involves almost 300 women. In No One to Tell, which was released Wednesday, she describes incidents outlined in the lawsuit in detail, including an operational officer who allegedly told her to “keep her legs closed next time” when she announced her pregnancy.
“I don’t think I ever looked the operational officer in the eye again,” she wrote. “I would lower my head in shame every time I saw him. I was a healthy young woman expecting her first baby, but I felt beaten down, demoralized.”
Merlo’s book also touches on positive aspects of being in the RCMP, including times when she was able to help people and the integrity of many officers she worked with. But she describes a certain watch commander and sergeant as a “destructive duo,” corrupting her experience with the force and contributing to her life and marriage falling apart.
In one instance, she alleges that a watch commander announced, “boys, Merlo’s on the rag again!” after she pointed out a manpower shortage. She also alleges a sergeant was notorious for keeping a blow-up sex doll in his office and that she had found sex toys left in her files.
Merlo ultimately questions the RCMP’s ability to work with women at all, and said she thought about how she was treated by coworkers when the story of Robert Pickton and Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside prostitutes emerged.
“If police officers could feel such an animosity toward the woman who were their coworkers, trained by and committed to the same organization, then how did those men feel about women who were considered, globally, the lowest of the low?” she wrote. “It is reasonable to think some of those women would still be alive if they’d been considered more valuable – valuable enough for someone to pay attention and launch an investigation earlier.”
She believes no matter how close to equal the female to male ratio on the force gets, a gender discrepancy will still exist as long as the fundamentals of the police organization stay the same.
No One To Tell was published by Breakwater Books and is now available for purchase in stores and online.
The Nanaimo RCMP detachment declined to comment on the memoir.