“We need the Public Safety Committee to meet to get concrete answers from the minister and RCMP Commissioner about how they intend to address the systemic racism inherent in Canada’s law enforcement,” said Harris. “The police are supposed to serve and protect. That should go for everyone, but it clearly doesn’t. We can’t continue to do nothing while Indigenous and Black people and other racialized communities are forced to live in fear and mistrust of the police.”
Harris’ call comes in the wake of recent reports and video of police violence against Indigenous and Black people, including the shooting of Chantel Moore during a wellness check, the footage of an RCMP officer striking an Inuk man in Kinngait with the door of a police vehicle, the killing of D’Andre Campbell and death of Regis Korchinski-Paquet, and the dashcam footage of Chief Allan Adam being violently attacked and arrested by RCMP officers in Fort McMurray.
New Democrats have already called for a review of the nearly $10 million per day RCMP budget and for investments in intervention, de-escalation, and mental health and addiction supports to prevent many of the situations that police are being asked to handle with guns and handcuffs from ever becoming police issues.
“The RCMP in particular has a long history of enforcing race-based laws on behalf of the government of Canada against Indigenous peoples and no amount of reports and enquiries have stopped the treatment we see day after day,” said Harris.
Earlier this week, RCMP commissioner Brenda Lucki struggled to acknowledge or even define systemic racism and its presence in the police force. The RCMP’s commanding officer in Alberta denied outright that systemic racism exists in policing in Canada.
“We have a long way to go and it’s going to take a lot more than acknowledging systemic racism to make sure we get a solution,” said Harris. “We need to hear from the Minister of Public Safety, the RCMP Commissioner, and other witnesses, to ensure government accountability and hear what specific concrete plans that are to be put in place to deal with this crisis.”