A human rights complaint against the RCMP by six indigenous people from Northern British Columbia is proceeding to a Human Rights Tribunal hearing.
In late 2016, Lake Babine First Nation members Richard Perry, Maurice Joseph, Emma Williams, Dorothy Williams, Cathy Woodgate and Ann Tom complained to the Canadian Human Rights Commission. They said they suffered discrimination because the RCMP bungled their abuse complaints against John Furlong, the former head of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. They filed with the commission after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did not reply to their late 2015 appeal for help.
“Although the government failed to acknowledge, let alone investigate, our concerns regarding alleged abuse by John Furlong, it has favoured Furlong in ways that have silenced and re-traumatized us,” said the complaint by the six ex-Furlong students. “Neither the Public Safety Ministry nor the RCMP provided a service to remedy this situation.
“Instead they treated us in an adverse and differential manner. The denial of a service, and treatment in an adverse and differential manner are both prohibited under the Canadian Human Rights Code.”
Former VANOC CEO Furlong has always denied the allegations and was never charged after the RCMP dropped the investigation in early 2013.
None of the allegations against him has been tested in a criminal or civil court. He filed defamation lawsuits in B.C. Supreme Court against the Georgia Straight and reporter Laura Robinson in late 2012, but later withdrew them. Robinson lost her defamation case against Furlong in 2015.
On Jan. 31, the Canadian Human Rights Commission decided the circumstances of the complaint warrant an inquiry and referred the matter to the Human Rights Tribunal. Hearing dates are pending. The RCMP has the right to ask for a Federal Court judge to review the decision.
The RCMP was in charge of the $900 million security operation during the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, the largest peacetime operation in Canadian history with more than 10,000 police officers and soldiers blanketing Vancouver, Whistler and Richmond.
After the Olympics, Furlong chaired the Own The Podium high performance funding agency for Canadian national teams. He was executive chairman of the Vancouver Whitecaps from April 2012 until December 2020, but remains a director of Canadian Tire and chairman of Rocky Mountaineer Railtours.
Robinson’s September 2012 exposé in the Georgia Straight (“John Furlong biography omits secret past in Burns Lake”) found omissions and inconsistencies in Furlong’s 2011-published memoir, Patriot Hearts. Robinson’s story included allegations based on affidavits from those who accused Furlong of physically abusing them when they were students at a Burns Lake Catholic day school and he was a volunteer gym teacher beginning in 1969.
Furlong is keynote speaker at the Vancouver Board of Trade’s celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Vancouver Winter Olympics and Paralympics on Feb. 20.
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