OTTAWA – The Standing Committee on Public Safety released their report Thursday on racism in policing in Canada. While New Democrats fully support the recommendations in the report, NDP public safety critic, Jack Harris, who requested the study, insists that the minister and Prime Minister must take full responsibility for the comprehensive changes needed within the RCMP if policing is to improve.
“Canadians are coming to a greater understanding of the role that the RCMP and policing has and continues to play in perpetuating systemic racism against Indigenous and Black communities. It is more clear than ever before that the RCMP needs transformational change,” said Harris. “Unfortunately, this government has a history of failing to act on reports. The time is now to take serious and concrete action. The RCMP needs to move away from the para-military colonial model to a police service model with strong civilian oversight.”
Video released this week of Vancouver Police Department officers handcuffing a 12-year-old indigenous girl and her grandfather all because they wanted to open a bank account at BMO Bank of Montreal has renewed calls that police racism is real and must be dealt with.
Police officers must be held accountable for any excessive use of force, even when it doesn’t meet a criminal threshold. We need a national database on all police use of force incidents and all forms of racial profiling need to be prohibited in a national policy.
In addition to the recommendations in the report, Harris proposes a complete overhaul of RCMP training from the ground up, beginning with the closure of Depot in Regina. This facility has a long history of instilling a military mindset and colonial culture into new recruits.
New Democrats recommend a new National Police College to provide professional police education and training, including training in de-escalation, implicit bias, gender-based violence, cultural awareness and the history of colonialism.
“Should Indigenous leadership and communities want it, a parallel Indigenous Police College or other form of police training should be developed within an Indigenous Police Service Framework and with proper government support,” said Harris.
“There is a path forward, but it requires real and concrete action as proposed in this report. We have had enough of the pretty words and assurances from the Prime Minister and Public Safety Minister. Black, Indigenous and racialized Canadians deserve a policing service that they can trust,” added Harris.