I do, Mr. Chair. Thank you.
I'd also like to take the opportunity to thank you and the members of the committee for their kind invitation to speak before you. As we speak, we know that important discussions are taking place in communities and provinces right across Canada and around the world on the issue of systemic racism within the criminal justice system. This is a very important issue, and I am very grateful that SECU has decided to take on this particular issue at this most critical time. I'm pleased to have the opportunity to contribute to your discussion.
We have seen shocking video footage of George Floyd's death, and that footage has galvanized people to raise their voices in protests like never before. While the protest movement began south of the border, the demonstrations soon spread to Canada as well and have compelled us to take a deep and serious look at the issue of systemic racism and the impact it has on Canadians here at home.
As the has said, it is something that touches every corner and every person in our country. There's no doubt that indigenous people, black Canadians and other racialized people experience systemic racism and disparate outcomes within the criminal justice system. That system includes all of our police services, including the national police force, the RCMP, for which I am responsible in the government.
As you know, the RCMP commissioner, who I am very fortunate to have joining me here today, has acknowledged that systemic racism is part of every institution in Canada, the RCMP included. I commend her for that acknowledgement. I also support the important work she is doing to reform the RCMP, including her efforts to increase diversity and inclusion in decision-making, training and recruitment.
I also want to express my sincere and profound appreciation to the members of the RCMP, who serve Canadians with integrity, dedication and professionalism every day. The RCMP has a very strict and bias-free policing policy that guides the actions of its members in every interaction they have with the public. This policy is based on the principles of equality and non-discrimination, and therefore it is an important step forward. It's also important to acknowledge that when individuals do not live up to that bias-free policing policy there must be strict accountability.
I have, as many of you know, spent most of my life in public service. For almost four decades, I served my community as a police officer, including 10 years as the chief of police for Canada's most populous city. I can tell you from first-hand experience that the overwhelming majority of police officers in this country do conduct themselves in an exemplary manner and make every effort to minimize the use of force.
The goal of every police officer must always be to protect and maintain public safety and keep our citizens safe. The highest duty is the preservation of all life.
However, we would not be having this discussion today if everything were perfect, if this happened flawlessly on each and every occasion. Systemic racism is a reality in Canada, and when it occurs, I have no intention to and will not defend the indefensible. Let me be very clear: Discrimination on the basis of race or as a result of any other form of bias is unacceptable and abhorrent. It is not merely unacceptable and abhorrent; it is unlawful. It's contrary to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and it's contrary to the Canadian Human Rights Act.
It cannot be tolerated within policing or in any other aspect of our justice system. We cannot shy away from uncomfortable truths. We must do more and we must do better. Our policing services must be committed to ensuring they are worthy of the trust all Canadians put in them to protect us. Maintaining that trust requires rigorous accountability when there appears to be suggestion of misconduct. For example, when an officer appears to have exceeded their authority, used excessive force or acted in a biased or discriminatory way, that must be quickly investigated. If an officer is found to have broken the law, they need to be held strictly to account.
There are processes and oversight mechanisms in place to ensure these things happen. These mechanisms are important, and I will continue to support and uphold their use. I will also continue to speak with racialized community members and indigenous leaders across the country about the concerning incidents that have taken place over the past several weeks, as well as about the newly released data on the RCMP's use of intervention options.
These discussions are critical to ensuring that our policing services serve everyone with the dignity and respect they deserve. It is more important than ever that we acknowledge the lived experience of those who have experienced racism or discrimination at the hands of the police, and work to put a stop to this injustice.
While we will continue to engage with individuals and groups, Canadians expect concrete action. That's why I will continue to pursue my mandate priorities in this area. One of those priorities is to ensure that all officials in Canada's law enforcement and security agencies have access to unconscious bias and cultural competency training. Another is to co-develop a legislative framework that recognizes first nations policing as an essential service and ensures that police services are culturally appropriate and reflect the communities they serve. I will have more to say about this, perhaps during the questions you may ask.
We have already committed to investing up to $291 million in the first nations policing program, which provides federal funding for professional, dedicated and culturally responsive policing services in hundreds of first nations and Inuit communities. That federal funding commitment is ongoing. It includes an annual increase to keep up with inflation, providing greater financial stability for communities. Of course, that's on top of recent funding to improve police facilities in first nations and Inuit communities, such as improving detachments and communication systems. That means funding for 185 police agreements under the first nations policing program, policing a first nations and Inuit population of roughly 432,000 people. This includes support for more than 1,300 police officer positions in over 450 first nations and Inuit communities.
I want to be clear that the first nations policing program has been a program for more than three decades in this country. It needs to become an essential service. It is our intent to co-develop, with indigenous communities and indigenous leadership across Canada, a new legislative framework for the delivery of culturally appropriate, professional and effective police services. We will work with and respect the jurisdiction and authority of first nations across this country to ensure that they have the policing services they need and deserve. I look forward to working with interested communities to expand the number that are currently served by first nations policing.
I'd also like to note that the government continues the important work to advance the calls for justice in the final report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. This includes the calls for justice related very specifically to policing. Following the release of the inquiry's interim report, for example, the public safety department funded reviews of police policies and practices to identify gaps and challenges in the delivery of culturally competent policing services. The government has invested $1.25 million over two years for four external organizations with expertise in law enforcement and policing to lead these reviews. The reports have also made recommendations and identified tools, resources and promising practices that may be helpful in fostering a more trusting relationship and building confidence in police services. Their final reports will be made available on the public safety department website in the very near future. One of those reports is currently available on our website. The findings and recommendations from this review will also be an important source of information for such key law enforcement partners as the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police.
We are also taking steps to increase transparency in police interactions through the adoption of body-worn cameras across the RCMP. Body-worn video creates greater accountability while also providing excellent evidence and a first-version view of what a police officer encounters, often in highly dynamic and potentially tense situations. The RCMP piloted body-worn cameras in a number of different environments. We will continue to build on this experience as well as examine the experience in other jurisdictions. We're currently working on the policy framework that will support their more widespread use, ensuring that this technology is also, and always remains, respectful of Canadians' privacy interests. We will move forward with implementing body-worn cameras as quickly as possible.
Mr. Chair, as I have made clear, there is no room for racism or discrimination of any kind in any of Canada's law enforcement agencies and institutions. We are working hard, and we will continue to work harder, to make our systems more just. We have taken some steps in the right direction, but let me acknowledge that there is much more work to do. That's why I will continue to work with Commissioner Lucki as she strives to make the RCMP a more just and accountable police service, where diverse voices and perspectives are valued and included, to create a better and safer environment in the communities they serve.
I thank you once again for your kind invitation.
I look forward to seeing the results of this committee's deliberations on this important topic, and I'd now be happy to answer your questions.
Let me explain it this way, Mr. Paul-Hus.
When we look at the criminal justice system, like many aspects of Canadian society, we see disparate outcomes. There are grossly disproportionate outcomes for indigenous communities, racialized communities and young black men in our society, who are, among all of those groups, disproportionately represented in police interactions, in our court system, and in our prisons.
We also see similar disparities manifesting themselves on issues of employment, in health outcomes, in education, and in access to mental health services and a wide variety of things. That highlights for us that there are significant issues of disparity that are systemic within a number of systems.
With respect to the criminal justice system, those disparities are obvious and we have been working on that fact. The has done a number of things, which we are bringing forward now to try to address some of those disparities in our prison system and our courts.
The Commissioner, through the RCMP, has also been undertaking to reduce those disparities and those disparate outcomes.
Thank you both for being here today.
I think we all need to recognize that while many of these events have come to light in the last few weeks, this issue has been ongoing certainly with indigenous people for hundreds of years, sadly. The systemic racism in policing against indigenous peoples and black Canadians and other racialized people in Canada is just unacceptable. I'm glad we're having these conversations right now.
To start, Minister, I have some questions around the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission. I'm going to give you a list of some things that I think could be looked at, and I'm wondering if you could maybe let me know if they're on your radar and would consider doing them. These things include bringing in legislation that would have timelines on the reports being released; an appeals process; the report going to an advisory committee or another body rather than the RCMP reporting to itself; meaningful engagement of indigenous and marginalized peoples in the review process; and simplifying the complaints process, because many people feel that they need to hire a lawyer in order to file a complaint, and a number of people do not have the socio-economic ability to hire a lawyer.
Minister, I'm wondering if you could let us know whether that would be on your radar right now.
Let me begin by saying that I think our complaints system has to be accessible to all Canadians. It needs to be transparent. It needs to be fair and objective. It also needs to be quick. What we have seen and what I've heard very clearly is that Canadians across the country have raised a number of concerns regarding the timeliness of those complaint reviews.
I've had a little bit of experience in my own jurisdiction, under a different legislative framework, with a complaints process. As a police chief, I can tell you that a well-functioning and accessible complaints review system that the public can trust with regard to its objectivity, its fairness, and its accessibility, and through which individuals who engage in misconduct will be held to account, is of tremendously important assistance to a police chief to maintain public trust in those complaints systems. I also recall that when they were first being introduced across the country, there was some resistance to them amongst police leaders. What we found very quickly was that when those investigations were being conducted independent of police leadership and the public trusted the outcome, they produced much better results.
I'll also tell you that in my experience the overwhelming majority of complaints can be resolved quite informally and quite quickly, but they need to be recorded to ensure the integrity of a complaints review system.
I am in complete agreement with the importance of published and enforceable timelines so that Canadians can have a reasonable expectation of when a matter will be resolved, and I think they should be as open and transparent as possible. The commissioner and I have had a number of conversations about how that can be achieved.
I would also point out that we introduced legislation in the last Parliament, which, unfortunately, passed in the House but didn't get through the Senate. We've reintroduced it in the form of Bill . That's for a complaints review system that builds upon the existing CRCC body and includes the responsibility for providing a complaints mechanism for our border services officers. I'm looking very carefully at that legislation to ensure it does have those appropriate and defined timelines. I think there are a number of things this committee could do.
Let me assure you that I'm very open to your observations and recommendations coming forward from the work of this committee on how we can make the complaints review system work better, not just for all Canadians but for police officers who are the subject of these complaints. Timely resolutions of those complaints are actually in their interests as well so that they can get on with rebuilding their relationship with the people they're supposed to be serving.
I want to begin by saying that I am pleased that the committee has been able to come together so quickly to consider this most important issue. The Bloc Québécois was among the first to support this request, at the initiative of the NDP, to convene this committee and study the issue.
The issue of systemic racism within the RCMP and police brutality must definitely be addressed. Of course, we need to meet with the RCMP Commissioner and the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, and I thank them for being here today. Having said that, I think it is imperative that we hear from and listen to victims of police violence and discrimination from all walks of life. These are the men and women who have the most to teach us as parliamentarians so that we can come up with concrete, non-partisan solutions on this committee.
I am very much looking forward to this process, which begins today.
Minister, thank you again for being here. You talked about concrete solutions and a number of measures that have been put in place since the Liberals have been in power. You talked about the use of cameras when officers respond.
I would like to know, specifically, what measures have been put in place from the start.
I feel everyone here today agrees that systemic discrimination exists within the RCMP. The commissioner recognizes it, you recognize it, and so does the Prime Minister. Now is the time for specific solutions and actions.
What are they?
Let me speak to a couple of things that I think are very important.
One thing that was recognized prior to the recent incidents, and that was placed right in my mandate letter from the , was to co-produce with indigenous leadership in Canada a new legislative framework for indigenous policing. For 35 years indigenous policing, policing in indigenous communities and in the territories, has been done primarily as a program. That's the first nations policing program. It receives program funding every year, but it's never been acknowledged or recognized as an essential service. I think that's to its detriment.
It's also, I think, necessary and appropriate to work with indigenous leadership to acknowledge and recognize their jurisdiction in governance, in oversight and in accountability and for them to have the ability to define how they want their communities to be policed. There are a number of models with various levels of success across the country. I think we can learn and build upon that. We've been doing that work. I have reached out to regional chiefs of the AFN and to the national chief, but also grand chiefs from around the country. We're also looking at those communities that are currently being policed by their own first nations policing program to look at how we can improve, through a legislative framework, the delivery of those police services. It may include the RCMP. It may include other provincial police services, such as the Sûreté du Québec and the Ontario Provincial Police. Really, it's to acknowledge and recognize the indigenous leadership in their communities and how they want to be policed. We believe there's a need and an opportunity to move forward on that.
As well, we have been investing in creating a more diverse and inclusive RCMP. The commissioner can share with you as well the work that is being done. I will tell you from my own experience that having people in policing who have the lived experiences of the people they serve, who know what it's like to face discrimination and disparity, who know what it's like to be a new immigrant family, who have that lived experience and who bring it to the profession of policing makes policing more effective in those communities. As we work to create more diverse police services, I think that's an important step forward as well. So there is no one thing to do. There are very many things to do.
The last thing I will say in response to your inquiry is that it's not simply about the police; it's about the community in which the police work and the type of work we have them do. It's also necessary to invest in communities, in kids, and to support other aspects of those communities that reduce the need for police intervention. Perhaps no greater challenge exists for the police in this country than that of dealing with people in crisis. A great deal of work has been done and much more needs to be done in that regard.
Thank you, Minister Blair, and thank you, Commissioner Lucki.
It's an honour to be here. I'll say two things at the outset.
Mr. Blair, you are, like me, a talker, so I'll have to ask you to keep your answers a little shorter. I have only six minutes here, and I don't want to be rude.
Second, I want to acknowledge the late Wayne Russett of the RCMP, with whom I had the honour of negotiating some very tense standoffs when I worked with the indigenous communities. Wayne understood policing as a social engagement about de-escalation and about building trust. We are here to ensure that all officers in all departments understand that the role of the police officer, as someone who can actually take on a very difficult and tense situation and de-escalate it, is vital.
With that in mind, I was interested in your comment that systemic racism is deficiencies in the system that bring different outcomes to different people. To me, the deficiency in the system is that 4.9% of Canadians are indigenous, and yet they represent nearly 40% of fatalities in the RCMP. The different outcome is like life and death. These numbers are staggering.
Minister, you talked about young black men being disproportionately involved in the system. When you were chief of police, carding was one of your very strong tools. You were very strong about it in the city of Toronto, and it was heavily used. Given what you know now, as my colleague Matthew Green has said, would you consider apologizing to say that it was a mistake using those tactics? What do you say about the use of carding that happened on your watch?
That was what was pointed out about carding—the arbitrary stopping of young black men.
Again, we can look at the numbers and at what they tell us: 8.8% of Toronto's population is black, yet they made up 30% of physical confrontations with police that resulted in serious injuries; and 60% of deadly encounters and 70% of fatal police shootings were black, young black men mostly, in the city of Toronto. These are very serious issues, so I'm glad to hear that from you.
I want to switch gears a little bit. We understand that the government is not moving forward yet on the murdered and missing indigenous women and girls because of COVID, but COVID hasn't stopped the domestic violence and the horrific mistreatment of indigenous women. I refer you to what's going on in Nunavut, where I believe the complaints commission has over 30 cases of women being treated in horrific conditions. It's actually hard to read it out: strip searches, humiliating treatment, tying women naked to chairs. That wouldn't happen to white women, anywhere else, but in Nunavut this seems to be a pattern. And yet we've had no investigation of it.
In light of the promises that were made on the murdered and missing, how is it that we can see such abusive treatment of women who are suffering sexual assault in Nunavut?
I want to start off with a brief comment. As a former member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for over 30 years, I am fortunate to have worked across Canada and internationally. I've worked with thousands of regular members, civilian members and public service support staff, as well as municipal and provincial police agencies.
The RCMP is a professional organization with outstanding employees. I am proud of my service, and I am confident in RCMP policing in Canada. I want to recognize the members of the RCMP who live in our communities. Their children grow up in our communities. They coach high school sports and volunteer for many events. I thank them for their service to Canadians, especially in tough times.
Right now, though, their morale is low. The members are looking for some leadership from senior management, and they're not getting that support. We're here to discuss racism in all departments of the federal government, specifically today with the RCMP, and we are here to discuss senior management recognizing current issues and being accountable to take corrective action.
I want to thank Minister Blair and Commissioner Lucki for being here today.
Minister, the government has admitted there is systemic racism in every department of the federal government, including in the RCMP. I know that your mandate letter does not identify the priority of working to engage your departments with instructions to eliminate racism, although diversity was in the commissioner's mandate letter.
Mr. Minister, can you explain why the commanding officer's cultural diversity advisory committee in British Columbia was dissolved?
First of all, I try not to be too discouraged, because I've seen some extraordinary examples right across this country. I've been speaking to indigenous leaders and people in communities right across the country who have shared with me extraordinary stories of the relationship between them and the police officers who serve them.
I was speaking to the national chief the other day. We were talking about policing, and he shared with me that three of his brothers serve in the RCMP. I was speaking to one of the regional chiefs in the Northwest Territories who talked to me about special constables, community safety officers and the extraordinary relationship that was built between the RCMP and people in his community. There are some extraordinary examples in the Yukon and in places right across Canada.
I think we need to build upon that extraordinary work and the relationships that have been built. That's not to suggest for a moment that the situation does not require a lot of work or that it's perfect, but there's a great deal to be encouraged by, because we have good people working in good communities and they are doing some extraordinary work. We need to make sure that they're properly supported, and that's not just supported by money, people, resources and equipment. We're talking about having strong governance structures and strong systems of accountability and transparency.
There's nothing more important in the relationship between the police and the people they serve than trust. To be trusted, one has to be trustworthy, and trustworthiness has a number of really important elements, which include accountability and transparency. People need to demonstrate their commitment to service and to protecting the people they're sworn to serve.
There are some great examples of that, and there are some places where we need to improve.
With me is Dennis Daley, assistant commissioner with contract and indigenous policing. On the screen is Gail Johnson, our fairly new—eight months, probably—chief human resources officer.
Thank you for the invitation to speak on these critical issues.
I would like to acknowledge that I am speaking on unceded Algonquin territory.
The last several weeks have been extremely difficult for Canadians, for indigenous, black and racialized communities, as well as for police. This has sparked an important conversation across the country. I have been listening. The calls for action have been heard. My opening remarks will outline RCMP modernization efforts in the wake of these recent events.
When I was appointed commissioner two years ago, I said, “I plan to challenge assumptions, seek explanations and better understand the reasons how we operate. This means that no stone will be left unturned.”
The past two weeks have given the RCMP an unprecedented opportunity to advance change and step up our actions.
We have strengthened our resolve to advance change and step up our actions to serve, protect and reflect all communities; achieve reconciliation with indigenous and racialized communities; and bolster relationships built on recognition of rights, respect, mutual trust, co-operation and partnership. We are not a perfect organization but we will continue to learn, grow and evolve.
As I expressed directly to my members in a video message several days ago, it's painful to hear; nevertheless, a constructive dialogue is important if we are to strengthen the trust of Canadians. There's also a deep pain in Canada's indigenous, black and racialized communities, including those in the RCMP, who have suffered the inequities of systemic racism. I would like to affirm here, before Parliament, that I am so very proud to lead the 30,000 employees of the RCMP who continue to have my deep appreciation for what they do every single day, serving Canadians with dedication and professionalism. They do this out of an intense sense of fairness and a desire to protect the vulnerable in every corner of Canada and around the world.
Let me say that we are committed to seeking out and eliminating all forms of racism and discrimination in our organization. I have listened to RCMP employees and their families who are demoralized by the anti-police narrative that is painting everyone unfairly with the same brush, but acknowledging that systemic racism is present in the force does not equate to employees being racist. It is about how an organization creates and maintains racial inequality, often caused by sometimes subtle and unintentional biases in police policies, practices and process that either privilege or disadvantage different groups of people.
I have heard from and reached out to many people, listening, learning and reflecting on how these discussions translate into strengthening my organization. I have spoken with indigenous leaders, including Senator Murray Sinclair, who spoke to me about taking a closer look at our recruitment and our training. I also spoke to MMIWG Commissioner Marion Buller, who spoke to me about our ongoing commitment to work with and learn from communities, which will help us make real progress. I listened to indigenous employees, both current and retired, who reminded me of the importance of our roots in community policing and the importance of our connection to the people we serve.
Now the RCMP can strengthen this trust and counter systemic racism.
I want to talk to you about what we have done to date.
I was given a clear mandate to modernize and transform our culture. In just over two years, we have made significant progress. I have received input both internally and externally from my national council of diversity and inclusion, my indigenous advisory committee and community leaders, particularly those in black and indigenous communities. I have established a new indigenous lived experience advisory group, comprised of current and former indigenous RCMP employees.
We are putting a diversity and inclusion lens on our policies, programs, recruiting, training and practices to better understand some of the unintended barriers that exist, and to work to correct them.
Character-based leadership is being integrated into our recruitment, our training and our promotion process. We have added more learning about indigenous history for cadets and incorporated indigenous traditions into our RCMP traditions in a number of ways, including supporting indigenous employees' wearing of traditional items like the eagle feather and the Métis sash when donning our red serge. We have updated national programs, including strengthened cultural awareness training and training in unconscious bias and trauma-informed approaches. We have enhanced the RCMP's participation in restorative justice initiatives across the country.
In terms of doing more to address systemic racism going forward, we are reprioritizing and enhancing our action plan to make changes at all levels, from recruitment to training to reporting and accountability. We really need to double down on hiring a more diverse membership, as we would like greater diversity to reflect the communities we serve. We are working to ensure that no unintended bias exists in our recruiting or training that could inadvertently and inappropriately impact some segments of our society.
We are revisiting our relocation practices and looking at place-based recruitment so that officers remain in the communities where ties and roots are already established.
We also have continued examining our policing models and are really looking at solutions with the communities we serve that are community focused and community driven. The RCMP was built on community policing, and we respond to an average of two million calls for service each year. Fewer than 1% of those calls involve use of force. Over 99% of incidents are resolved with our presence, our communication and de-escalation, and not the use of force. For those few incidents where force is used, our training and our protocols provide clear direction on using a minimum amount of force. We rely on de-escalation and crisis intervention when necessary.
When it comes to holding employees to account, we have extensive operational policies designed to ensure transparency, accountability and openness. Policing is a profession that has a broad range of accountability mechanisms. There is oversight in the courts, as well as independent inquiries, commissions, inquests and reviews. We are completely dedicated to making this great organization better than what it was when we started.
My team and myself are determined to get this work done, and we are making progress, but modernization is an ongoing process.
Our goal for the RCMP is to be the most respected and the most trusted police service in the world, grounded in solid relationships with all Canadians, and particularly with our indigenous, black and racialized communities. We need to broaden the space for these difficult discussions and build on the ones already under way. It is an opportunity for real change and leadership, and we are committed to doing just that.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak to you today.
I look forward to your discussions and dialogue.
Thank you, Commissioner, for being here for this important study.
As Canadians, we around the table would all agree that there's so much we have to proud of in being Canadian. We are proud of our history and proud of what Canada is. Of course, there are issues we need to work on in Canada. Racism is one of them, both racist incidents and systemic racism. We've all acknowledged that they exist in our public institutions and in private institutions as well.
This is a very important conversation. It's an important opportunity to study this issue and for legislators to take a look at how we can move forward. As parents, this conversation about racism is one that my wife and I have had with our kids. Racism is not something we can completely shield them from, so it's something we feel they need to understand and to maybe prepare them for as they grow older. Of course, the conversations change, but they're important. The work we're doing today is working to make the system better going into the future, and better for them.
To start off, I just want to ask you about the makeup of the RCMP, the demographics of it. Do you have any statistics? In terms of members with cultural, indigenous or ethnic backgrounds, do you know what the percentages are, overall, for the RCMP? Is that data that you keep? If you do—which would be important for recruitment—where was that five years ago compared to where are you now?
I'd like to start by acknowledging that we're all gathered here on the unceded lands of the Algonquin people.
Madam Commissioner, I was one of the many people who were very excited upon your appointment two years ago. The last several weeks have been very difficult, and very difficult for racialized people. There are many names, starting with George Floyd, and there are many others in Canada I can name as I outline the tragedies that have taken place at the hands of the police. What is very disappointing is your lack of clarity in acknowledging that systemic racism existed when the question was posed to you, and equally troubling was the failure of your deputy commissioner in Alberta.
I think what's difficult for me today is to understand whether the RCMP, and you and your office and your team, understand the urgency that is before us. This is a moment in history where the world is moving. I have seen people demonstrating on the streets who've never gone out before, who were complacent and who thought that, even if they were affected by racism, they would not speak because they were afraid of the repercussions. I've seen so many people, especially young people, who have been on the streets demanding action.
How do you respond to this urgency? It's not the recruitment and training. Those are important, but those will take time. How do you respond in order to gain the confidence of the public, particularly racialized people, notably indigenous and black people?
Any RCMP member who does not live up to our core values will be held to account, point, final, no question. We have obviously a range of disciplinary measures from operational guidance to dismissal.
We need to look at hiring the right person, training them properly to be empathetic and to be compassionate, to live to our core values. We are introducing character-based recruitment so that we can ensure that we get the right person. It's not just about that because you might get the right person, but if your training is all for naught, that's not going to help. It has to be from the time they start to the time they retire.
We've brought in foundations of leadership, a pilot project that was brought in at the end of last year and the beginning of this year. There are several modules, one includes unconscious bias racism, conflict management and having difficult conversations, because we can have great employees but if they are not properly supervised or properly led, that's yet another issue.
It has to be from all angles and it's something that we need to work on and get better at, but we are definitely putting the GBA+ lens on our recruitment. We did a full GBA+ on our recruitment and we are now starting a GBA+ on our entire cadet training program.
When I got into the chair as commissioner, I introduced Vision 150, and that's our road to the 150th anniversary in 2023.
The focus was based on people within the RCMP and community. The premise was that if we focus on our people, we'll have better operations and a safer Canada. Under that we put four pillars: our people, our culture, our stewardship and our policing services. There are initiatives under each one of those pillars.
All of it is so that we can make our culture more tolerant, more inclusive and more diverse, so that we can be reflective of the communities that we serve. They need training, they need to make sure that they.... How do we get rid of their unconscious bias, or sometimes conscious bias, when they are policing? That's the most difficult part of policing because when you are policing groups of people, and with the same types of incidents, it's very easy to get an unconscious bias.
How do we get people to recognize that, acknowledge it and be more empathetic? Bringing in, for instance, the blanket exercise through the training academy is one such area. The culture and humility course is very powerful. Bringing in a trauma-informed approach to dealing with victims was part of our missing and murdered indigenous women and girls actions. We have quite a few actions underneath that so when we speak about.... We established a national office of investigative standards and practices so that those investigations will be dealt with the same way regardless of what individual is the victim, or what individual is the criminal.
We need to get better at our restorative justice referrals so that we eliminate people getting into the justice system, especially as a youth...pre-charge restorative justice. We need to get better at the referrals.
Thank you, Mr. Chair. Thank you, Commissioner.
This past weekend 400 people in my little town marched for Black Lives Matter. This is a transformative moment, and I have to be able to look at them and say that they can trust that their voice is being heard around the world and that change will happen.
For you, you need to be able to tell your officers that when we deal in a transparent manner with issues that are completely unacceptable, the morale of the force will be strong. It really comes to moving beyond good words to clear actions that we can point to.
I want to ask you just a few questions on that, because when an incident occurs, we need to know that the process in place can deal with it and that whatever the result of that is, we can hold it up and say that this was the investigation.
I did meet with the Colten Boushie family and I learned a lot. I learned about the trauma the mother suffered when she was basically treated like an accomplice when her son was dead, and that the evidence and the body of the boy were left out in the rain for 24 hours, which wrecked the case. There were RCMP members on a Facebook group saying Colten Boushie got what was coming to him.
These are the allegations that we saw that came out in court. The Civilian Review and Complaints Commission looked into it—you have the report—but when I spoke to indigenous advisers in F Division, they hadn't heard anything about what the RCMP thinks of it or what they're going to do about it. They say it's like dealing with a black hole, and that black hole is about the lack of trust.
When is that report going to be released?
Thank you, Mr. Chair. It is very kind of you to give me this opportunity to ask a question.
Thank you very much, Madam Commissioner. We are happy to have you here.
First of all, I would like to say that I recognize the very difficult work that the RCMP and all its members do every day. It is not easy being a police officer. It is not easy to have spotlights shone on cases that are the exception, perhaps. I understand that it is very difficult, but that is the burden that you and all members of the RCMP have to bear. It is normal, in a democracy, that our police services have to undergo this kind of attention.
I do not want to repeat Mr. Anandasangaree's question, but I too was a little confused by your definition of systemic racism when you were asked that question in early June. I sincerely believe that people can change. They have to be given a chance to evolve and change their minds. So, to you I say, well done!
In connection with Ms. Michaud's question, could you once again provide me with a definition of systemic racism? You mentioned the notion of duration and the history of the RCMP. You acknowledged that systemic racism has existed.
Do you believe systemic racism still exists in the RCMP today?
Thank you for your question.
We have started a special recruitment process in Nunavut for Inuit people. We've identified people interested in the RCMP and we are working with them. Right now we have seven. It's a pilot project. Seven people were recently identified, in January, and we are giving them the skills that they don't have access to, like driving, or if they require certain educational components that can help them with their learning of police studies, we are giving them that learning in Nunavut before they go to the RCMP training academy. We will look at every single piece that we can do in Nunavut to help them succeed, and we will do it there instead of bringing them down to the RCMP training academy.
We are also looking at a troop—and we've done this before—specifically with Inuit candidates or indigenous candidates in the north, as opposed to people south of the 55th parallel, because they have very unique needs, and it's very difficult for people who have never been away from home to all of a sudden be sent to a training academy in Regina for six months.
Again, we have to be open and flexible for all of those diverse options in order to attract the most diverse population.
I think under our modernization efforts, as I said, no stone will be left unturned, and one of them is a review of contract policing.
I do have to say, having now been in this position and having been exposed to police agencies from around the world, that our motto, as much as it is sometimes criticized, is the envy of most police agencies because of its flexibility and nimbleness in times of crisis.
I can give you numerous examples. One was that of the manhunt in northern Manitoba, where we could bring resources in and not make the rest of the province vulnerable because we had to move resources around. We could bring fresh resources in. There were the fires in Fort McMurray, and a terrorism file that we had in Kingston. It takes a lot of specialized resources, which you can't afford to have in each area. We could draw from each province and bring those specialized resources in, deal with the file, and then they could return to their place.
It is a great model, but it needs to be resourced accordingly, and we have to make sure that it's in the proper footprint with the proper resources.
Thank you for that question.
In a perfect world, I would say yes.
When I was the district officer in northern Manitoba, in Thompson, we policed half of the province, and in that entire half of the province, there was not one addictions centre, so anybody who needed addictions counselling had to go down south. Therefore, I would say yes, in a perfect world, if those resources were available, but when you look at Toronto or Ottawa or the Lower Mainland, it's a different story than it is in the majority of the areas we police.
In Nunavut, we have seven or eight two-person detachments, and there are no social services. Any time social services are needed, people usually need to go to Iqaluit, because those other communities do not have them. The police are the first responders for all of those, and that's the reality. It's not a fair reality, but it is reality.