N.B. Mountie disturbed by editorial cartoons addressing drug use
The subject of post-traumatic stress disorder is at the heart of an angry response from New Brunswick’s top Mountie.
Assistant Commissioner Roger Brown says a recent series of editorial cartoons is deeply disturbing and void of compassion, but some suggest Brown is being overly sensitive.
“I don’t find it funny and usually cartoons are used to make fun of a situation,” says Brown. “I don’t find it funny at all.”
The cartoons have appeared in New Brunswick newspapers and ridicule the recent drug issues surrounding the RCMP.
In one cartoon, a Mountie dressed in red serge is seen smoking marijuana and in another cartoon, two officers appear to be using cocaine for ‘medical purposes.’
The cartoons come after revelations that one New Brunswick RCMP officer has been using medical marijuana to combat PTSD.
In a separate case, another Mountie in the province is facing charges for allegedly possessing and trafficking cocaine.
Brown says he finds the cartoons disturbing.
“In today’s world, PTSD, mental health issues are real, and people who suffer with them, they don’t need to be ridiculed,” he says.
“They don’t need to be made fun of. They need support.”
The Mounties claim the cartoons are unfair to the RCMP, but they also say they diminish the seriousness of an important health issue.
Brown says the RCMP take the issue of PTSD seriously and he has written an open letter to the newspapers to voice his objections.
However, a journalism professor at St. Thomas University says editorial cartoons are exempt from strict rules of journalism.
“This is a statement from a man who doesn’t understand the media,” says Michael Camp.
“These are expressions of opinion. They’re meant to be humorous. They’re not meant to be taken literally…the court understands that and I think people understand that too. This RCMP chief does not.”
Brown says the RCMP image has not suffered long-term damage and admits criticism comes with the job, but he feels the cartoons cross a line.
“What I can’t accept is the ridicule towards a person, a member, who came publicly and said ‘look, I have some issues with PTSD and really, I need some help.’”
CTV News attempted to contact the editorial department of the newspapers in question, but calls were not returned.
However, the RCMP says they have been assured Brown’s letter will be published in its entirety.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Mike Cameron