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Trudeau picks woman to head up RCMP as force struggles with sexism, sexual harassment

OTTAWA — Justin Trudeau is expected Friday to put a woman in charge of the RCMP, signalling a culture change in the national police force which has been beset by complaints about sexual harassment and discrimination against female officers.

Sources say the prime minister will name Brenda Lucki as the new commissioner of the Mounties during a visit to the RCMP training academy at Regina's Depot division, where Lucki is currently the commanding officer.

A 31-year veteran of the force, Lucki has also served in the former Yugoslavia and assisted in the United Nations civilian police mission in Haiti.

She has received numerous commendations over the years, including a United National Force Commander's commendation for bravery, two UN protection forces medals, and the Canadian peacekeeping service medal.

According to her RCMP biography, she is also a member of the Order of Merit of the Police Forces in recognition of her work to improve relations with First Nations.

Lucki's appointment comes amid continuing embarrassing revelations about sexism and sexual misconduct in RCMP ranks, one year after commissioner Bob Paulson apologized for discrimination against female officers and agreed to a $100-million settlement of two class-action lawsuits.

It also comes at a time when the force's relations with Indigenous people are particularly strained.

The Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP this week launched an investigation into how the Mounties handled the death of Colten Boushie, an Indigenous youth who was shot by a Saskatchewan farmer after driving onto his property. The farmer, Gerald Stanley, was acquitted last month, prompting accusations of bias against Indigenous people by both the police and the justice system as a whole.

The appointment follows the creation last year of an independent, non-partisan selection committee, headed by former New Brunswick premier Frank McKenna, which earlier this year recommended three contenders for the top job.

In coming up with the short list of highly qualified candidates, the committee was specifically instructed to "seek to support the government of Canada's commitments to gender parity and representativeness of diversity" in its appointment process.

Lucki will become the first woman to permanently take the helm of the RCMP; Beverley Busson held the post on an interim basis for six months in 2007.

Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press