RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki and Public Safety Minister Bill Blair will testify this evening before a parliamentary committee launching a study of systemic racism in policing — a study taking place at a tumultuous time for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and police services everywhere.
Members of the House of Commons public safety and national security committee agreed today to study systemic racism in policing.
New Democrat MP Jack Harris had been pressing the committee to launch a study and call both Blair — a former Toronto police chief — and Lucki as witnesses. Both are scheduled to appear between 5 and 7 p.m. ET.
The official study comes as pressure mounts around the world to rethink police budgets and use of force in the wake of George Floyd’s death in police custody in the U.S.
In Canada, the RCMP — which, outside of its federal obligations, acts as the provincial police in most provinces and all three territories — has come under intense pressure to be more sensitive to racial issues in recent weeks after a number of controversial incidents were caught on camera.
An RCMP officer’s decision to shoot Rodney Levi of the Metepenagiag Mi’kmaq Nation in New Brunswick earlier this month is under review. It followed closely on the heels of the shooting death of Chantel Moore, a 26-year-old Indigenous woman from British Columbia, by a police officer in Edmundston, N.B.
Video emerged earlier this month showing an RCMP officer slamming the door of his vehicle into an intoxicated man. That case is under review.
Around the same time, a video surfaced of an RCMP officer tackling Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation Chief Allan Adam outside of a casino after he was stopped for driving with expired plates. The officer said the chief was resisting arrest.
Earlier this month, Lucki faced a backlash for saying in several media interviews that she was struggling to define the term “systemic racism”. She later reversed herself, issuing a statement saying she believes systemic racism exists in the RCMP.