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Results: 1 - 15 of 136
Bryan Larkin
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Bryan Larkin
2020-08-14 12:15
Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.
Mr. Chair and members of the distinguished committee, as a member of the board of directors of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, it's a privilege to be here on behalf of our president, Chief Adam Palmer of the Vancouver Police Department.
Let me begin by saying that we live in a great country, although, as great as it is, racism is an insidious part of Canada's history and continues to be a reality in the communities across our nation today. Study after study, including a series of government-commissioned reports, continues to demonstrate that we have an issue with systemic racism throughout our judicial system, which includes our legal system, our courts and our police services across the nation.
The voices of black, indigenous and other members of our community were clearly heard recently as they conducted peaceful rallies across our country with calls to action regarding police interactions and the way we provide policing services to our communities. Our communities have expressed concerns about policing practices and systemic racism, including racial profiling. Black, indigenous and other ethnocultural groups have also condemned their overrepresentation in our judicial system as well as their treatment within our judicial system.
This is a powerful movement. It's also a powerful moment that we are experiencing, one that has culminated after more than a century of systemic racism in Canada. The Canadian chiefs believe the time is overdue: It is time for meaningful change in all aspects of our society. Tackling racism requires a concerted response from the entire community, including your police services. It is required to bring vision and to take courageous, bold leadership in our organizations and in our relationships with our respective communities.
Here in Canada, the approach to policing has significantly evolved and changed over time. Our police services have developed many strong relationships over the years with the communities we serve, shifting the emphasis from a focus on law enforcement to community engagement, community well-being, and a public-led, proactive crime prevention model that reflects true and meaningful partnerships. Our association is focused on the development of progressive, community-oriented leadership at all levels. We believe this approach is a key success factor to addressing the issue of systemic racism that affects our members and our communities as well as the trust and confidence within policing services across Canada.
There is much talk about improving mental health within both policing and our communities. We must achieve diversity, equity and inclusion in police services. The Canadian chiefs association strives to support tangible change in a meaningful way within the organizations we represent.
For this reason, diversity, equity and inclusion represent one of our nine national strategic policing priorities that guide the work of our association. A CACP committee is devoted to equity, diversity and inclusion. It was established in early 2018. It is committed to support our efforts and its membership to create and enhance practices that promote fairness, equity and inclusion through the identification, mitigation and elimination of implicit bias and discrimination in practices, polices and procedures; to remove systemic barriers; and to promote the advancement of inclusive, diverse and human rights equity within police institutions across our nation.
To achieve the cultural and operational change that is required, we feel it's important to begin with a common vocabulary and a common understanding of the key concepts that will help to identify, mitigate and be proactive to prevent racism and discrimination within policing across Canada as well as during our interactions with the communities we serve. As such, we have defined specifically for our membership the true meaning in our organizations of equity, diversity and inclusion.
When you look at police training and recruitment and oversight within Canada, police training and civilian oversight in Canada are among the best in the world. We should be proud of our accomplishments in policing within Canada. That being said, there's always room for improvement, advancement and modernization. Reflecting the powers and authorities invested in them, our officers and our members are carefully selected. We increasingly face more rigorous scrutiny and screening to try to ensure that our members meet and espouse the values of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, which consist of courage, integrity, respect, transparency, inclusiveness, excellence and compassion.
We are working on enhancing our recruitment, hiring and promotional processes nationally to increase the quality of our candidates as well as to accelerate the diversification of our organizations so that we can be more representative of and more responsive to the communities that we serve.
Much progress has been made to embed accountability within our teams and expectations to model professional, equitable and inclusive behaviours and leadership, but clearly we need to do more.
Our officers are also provided extensive training that goes well beyond basic policing. That includes training on cultural awareness, sensitivity, de-escalation and emotional intelligence. Again, much progress has been made, but your chiefs are open to new approaches and strive to continuously improve within a national framework for policing. This includes investing in and involving communities in our training and our processes to understand what works and what doesn't work and where we can grow.
Once officers are hired and trained, they have more accountability and independent civilian oversight than almost any other profession within Canada. Again meaningful improvements can be made.
Race-based data collection is a key. We must embark on a course of change with regard to how we can tell we are making progress. The problem is the data doesn't currently exist to accurately define the scope and breadth of the problem of systemic racism within Canada. The collection of data on indigenous and ethno-cultural identity has been subject to much discussion. Last month, the CACP issued a joint statement with Statistics Canada announcing our commitment to work together to meet this important information need for justice within Canada and the Canadian public committed to advancing racial equity.
Together we will work with policing communities and key organizations to enable the police to report statistics on indigenous and ethnocultural groups in police-reported crime statistics on victimization and accused persons to include important context and avoid stigmatizing communities. We believe this initiative will help.
Racism, whether systemic or individual, is painful and inexcusable, and it will not be tolerated by your Canadian police leaders. Stopping systemic racism requires a whole-of-society approach. While improvements are required in policing, your chiefs are committed to supporting positive change in this regard.
View Kristina Michaud Profile
Thank you. I also feel that the national framework could be a good recommendation, indeed.
In terms of training, you say you are going beyond fundamental police skill sets. That recommendation has come up often from the various witnesses who have appeared before us. They tell us that more cultural awareness is needed.
You brought that up in your opening remarks and you say that training is already being provided. However, if you want more training and more awareness, you need more resources. I would like to know how you see the federal government's involvement in this. Should funding be reduced, or should it be increased to ensure that police recruits receive training that is better adapted to the various communities?
Bryan Larkin
View Bryan Larkin Profile
Bryan Larkin
2020-08-14 12:41
Thank you, MP Michaud. You raise an excellent question.
Clearly, although there is cultural sensitivity, cultural awareness, and equity and inclusion training built into the various systems across our nation, I think we'd all agree that it's simply not enough. When we look at the police training, although it has evolved over the 30 years that both Nishan and I have been policing, we also recognize that society's evolved significantly. Naturally, when we look at training, we try to balance the cost on our ratepayers. Policing in Canada, for the most part, is funded by municipal taxpayers, particularly municipal policing. There are provincial and national responsibilities that are funded separately—that's a much larger discussion.
One recommendation of the CACP is that we establish a national equity, diversity and inclusion tool kit for all police services, for all police colleges, that we could roll out nationally. How we go about funding that is something we would be looking to work on with Public Safety Canada, with the national police service, as well as various provincial bodies that oversee policing—whether that be the solicitor general or public safety. These are phenomenal options.
Also, as I think my colleague alluded to, we must look at our systems through an equity lens. Our encouragement and our recommendation is that the training and/or the work we're doing within policing be reviewed and have community experts, those with lived experience, participate in those processes, with the outcome of a delivery of a national training tool kit. It would vary by different sectors, which would provide a much more enhanced skill set for our recruits.
I will say, anecdotally, and I think—
View Kristina Michaud Profile
Thank you for the extra minute, Mr. Chair.
My question is for Ms. Whitman.
In recent meetings, we have talked a lot about a national structural framework for training police officers. In addition, we have often discussed community involvement in training.
What changes need to be made to training so that they include such things as cultural realities, the various racialized communities and the prevention of violence against women?
Lorraine Whitman
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Lorraine Whitman
2020-08-14 14:07
At our national office at NWAC, we do have the means to assist any of the officers and the police in training, as well as with our cultural component, because that's a very important component. We represent the Métis, the first nations and the Inuit. We are able to call in elders. The elders are so...component to this whole stream of change, because they know the history. We have the younger ones. They have to blend with both.
I really do feel that if you're able to do change, then do it in a positive way. Make sure the people who need to be there are at the table, and make use of the women in the community and the elders so that we're all-inclusive and there's not one who's left out.
Chris MacDonald
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Chris MacDonald
2020-08-10 16:16
Thank you, Madam Chair. I'd like to thank the members of the committee for this chance to speak to you today.
My goal today is to provide a scholarly point of view. In what follows, I'll lay out the key elements of conflict of interest and the reasons that conflict of interest is important.
First, let's look at how it is defined in Canada's Conflict of Interest Act.
Section 4 of the act says the following:
For the purposes of this Act, a public officer holder is in a conflict of interest when he or she exercises an official power, duty or function that provides an opportunity to further his or her private interests or those of his or her relatives or friends or to improperly further another person's private interests.
This definition from the act is flawed in one key way—namely, in its reference to exercising official power. Under this definition, the conflict of interest doesn't exist unless the official actually takes action in an improper way. This fails to correspond to the view of leading scholars in this area, according to whom conflict of interest is a kind of situation, not a kind of action.
According to this expert consensus, a conflict of interest exists as soon as the official finds herself in a certain kind of situation, namely one in which she has the opportunity to act in a way that puts biases into action. Such an official is already—blamelessly—in a conflict of interest, so a more suitable definition would be this: a conflict of interest is a situation in which a person has a private or personal interest sufficient to appear to influence the objective exercise of his or her official duties as, say, a public official, an employee or a professional.
According to this definition, all that's required for a conflict of interest is the existence of a certain kind of professional duty, one that is in tension with some personal interest that stands to affect judgment.
Next, why is conflict of interest considered a problem? Two reasons are generally recognized. First, conflict of interest is considered a problem because we worry that if the professional or official goes ahead and renders judgment or offers advice in spite of an unremediated conflict, her decision may fail to serve those she has sworn to serve. A judge, for instance, in adjudicating a case involving a family member, might impose a sentence that isn't a just one, or a manager might end up making a hiring decision that fails to serve the interests of the organization.
Perhaps more important is that where conflict of interest is not dealt with properly, there is the possibility that confidence in the decision-maker and indeed in the institution in which decision-making occurs will be shaken. Seen from this perspective, the problem with the conflicted judge is not just that she may make a bad decision but that citizens will lose faith in the judiciary. The problem with the conflicted manager is not merely that a bad hire may result but that stakeholders will lose faith in the company's hiring process.
This is in fact the moral crux of conflict of interest. Trust is imperilled if people even suspect that experts or office-holders, who are inherently difficult to monitor, might be in a position to improperly profit from their privileged status.
It's crucial to point out that, properly understood, conflict of interest itself is not and cannot be an accusation. Conflict of interest can arise entirely innocently, as when the judge finds that a close relative has been charged with a crime and brought into her court. The judge here has done nothing wrong, but she is clearly in a conflict of interest. She has a personal interest—namely, an interest in not seeing her relative go to jail—and that interest could be expected to interfere with her judgment. In this situation, the judge is not to be accused of conflict but simply needs it pointed out if she hasn't noticed it already. If she handles the situation badly—for instance, if she goes ahead and presides over the case—then she is rightly to be criticized for that.
What should the individual do when she finds herself in a conflict of interest? First, note that the fact that conflict of interest is not an accusation implies that the integrity of the individual is not a solution. When a true conflict of interest exists, it is insufficient for us to encourage the individual to take care and it's insufficient for her to insist on her own integrity. It's beside the point.
Most experts recommend three key steps in dealing appropriately with conflicts of interest: One, avoid them when you can; two, disclose conflicts to relevant individuals; and three, remove yourself from decision-making.
Each of these steps, however, poses difficulties. Avoidance, for example, is sometimes impossible, because sometimes professionals find themselves thrust into conflict of interest through no doing of their own. Disclosure too poses difficulties. Disclosure sometimes allows professionals to feel as though that's all they needed to do when additional steps were in fact needed. Further, disclosure may leave stakeholders wondering just what to do with the information that has been disclosed. Finally, removing oneself from decision-making is sometimes impossible due to relevant roles and responsibilities, and in some cases, recusal may not even be effective.
Imagine, for instance, the situation of a corporate board member who declares a conflict of interest on some matter and then steps out of the boardroom while a vote is taken. The other members of the board may well find their own decision-making influenced nonetheless by the disclosed interest of the colleague who has left the room. On the other hand, it might be said that while the practical value of disclosure is unclear, interested parties still have the right to know that an individual in whom they are placing their trust is in a conflict of interest.
Briefly, what does all of this imply for the Canadian Conflict of Interest Act? Time doesn't permit a full analysis, but let me make just a couple of points.
First, the act certainly has the ingredients to point public officials in the right direction with regard to conflict of interest. Under the act, public officials are properly obligated to arrange their own affairs in a manner that will prevent them from being in a conflict of interest. They are also obligated to abstain from decision-making regarding matters in which they have a private interest. Setting aside quibbles outlined above about how the act defines conflict of interest, the act does provide decent basic guidance to public officials seeking to satisfy the main requirements of ethical behaviour in the face of conflict. It exhorts officials to avoid conflict; to disclose conflicts, including in writing, to the commissioner, who then posts them on the commissioner's office website; and to recuse themselves from decisions regarding which they have a conflict.
However, one important implication of what I said above might be worth noting. One section of the act allows for exceptions to be made to some of its requirements “if the Commissioner is of the opinion that the contract or interest [involved] is unlikely to affect the exercise of the official powers, duties and functions”, but as I suggested above, whether the conflict will have an impact on decision-making is only half the point, and perhaps the smaller half at that. The key is really whether participation in a decision will reduce public confidence in the relevant decision-making process.
Finally, a key challenge with regard to conflict of interest really lies in what's not in the act—namely, the process by which government officials come to know the requirements of the act and hopefully to internalize its real meaning. There is clear consensus in the relevant scholarly fields that simply having a clear set of rules accomplishes relatively little. Individuals need to understand the values underpinning those rules. They need training. Reading a piece of legislation is not training. Training on ethical issues is a tricky thing, and unfortunately too often gets done in kind of a check-box manner. Ideally, training should be experiential. Individuals need to experience the relevant ethical challenges in order to both appreciate their seriousness on an emotional level and to practise—to develop the habit of—doing what the rules require.
One of my own research projects, IN.Lab, provides an example of what I mean. That project, which is online at, involves immersing individuals in realistic scenarios, simulated online, to allow them to engage in ethical decision-making in real time. Federal government training on conflict of interest doesn't need to look exactly like that, of course, but it illustrates what is possible in going beyond the typical annual sign-off approach to training on ethics and conflict of interest.
Thank you.
View Kristina Michaud Profile
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I thank all the witnesses for their testimony.
I’m going to address Mr. Vil, whom I want to congratulate for the work he is doing with “Pour 3 Points” and in Briser le code, which was directed by Nicolas Houde-Sauvé. I think there’s a lot of work being done in the community right now, at least in Quebec.
So I’m going to give you the opportunity to finish what you were saying, Mr. Vil. In fact, you’re talking about racism in a way that differs from what we’ve been hearing since the beginning of our proceedings. You’re talking about a multifactorial crisis for which we are all responsible, which I think is important.
In fact, a lot of it comes back to the fact that more training needs to be done with police officers, or at least better training.
In your opinion, how should the issue of racism be addressed in police training?
Fabrice Vil
View Fabrice Vil Profile
Fabrice Vil
2020-07-24 14:40
First of all, thank you for your kind words and for giving me the opportunity to add to what I was saying.
In fact, we are adding solutions that require larger budgets, when they are not effective. To answer the question I was asked, reinvestment in community workers, in the fight against drug addiction and in urban planning will, in my opinion, make it possible to do prevention.
Now, there’s a lot of talk now about training on unconscious bias, among other things. This training is, to some extent, relevant, but, given the repressive impact of the police, I think we need to go a little further, as Ms. Michel was saying. We cannot rely solely on training. So I will not get involved as a police training expert. However, in the United Kingdom, for example, police officers who conduct street checks do not carry weapons. Could we explore this possibility in Canada and reserve weapons for emergency response units, which, where warranted, will carry a weapon? That would have prevented the deaths of people like Nicholas Gibbs, Pierre Coriolan or Alain Magloire, who were killed at close range with a rifle or other weapons, such as clubs.
Disarming the police in this context seems important to me. I have already had a conversation with a police officer about this. He told me that we need to understand the stress a police officer feels when he is holding a gun and feels threatened. Well, if he’s too stressed, let’s take his gun away from him. I think we have to consider that elsewhere in the world, people have found other ways of interacting, and that’s where I think we need to go beyond training. How could the funding allocated to the police be allocated to other types of interventions? That’s where I think we really have something important to do.
View Greg Fergus Profile
Lib. (QC)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
I would like to thank all the witnesses at the meeting today for their passionate testimony. I think it's a real privilege for the members of this committee to have such knowledgeable people here.
Ms. Michel, Mr. Vil, I will now ask Ms. Lashley a few questions, but if I get some fairly short answers, I'll be able to ask more.
Ms. Lashley, you pointed out that police forces are made up of members of society and, quoting Sir Robert Peel, you said that, therefore, the police are the public, and the public are the police.
Based on your experience with the Montreal police (SPVM), would you tell me whether police training is a significant part of the answer or whether there is something much deeper?
Myrna Lashley
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Myrna Lashley
2020-07-24 14:57
It's something much deeper than that. I don't think we need more training. Honestly, I don't think training is going to change anything. We've done a lot of that. As you may know, I was at John Abbott College. I was the chair of that department. I was the vice-chair of the board of the École nationale de police, and we trained them.
It's not training. We need institutional change; that's what we need. The training is there, but if you put people into a system where the ethos is that it's an us-against-them mentality, the training doesn't matter because they get hooked into that system. They have to work with those people who believe there's a warrior perspective going on. Therefore, I don't think training is the issue. I think we need a fundamental change.
View Kristina Michaud Profile
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you all for your testimony today.
I'd also like to take this opportunity to thank the interpreters who do important work for us, the few who speak French at the committee meeting today.
Mr. Zacharie, you made a number of recommendations regarding indigenous policing, including more long-term funding, better coordination between police forces, better training for police cadets on the socio-cultural realities of indigenous communities and access to comprehensive training for indigenous officers.
We often talk of training for all types of police officers, but you feel that the training specifically provided to indigenous officers is lacking. Why do you say that?
Dwayne Zacharie
View Dwayne Zacharie Profile
Dwayne Zacharie
2020-07-24 15:51
I feel that way because it seems like oftentimes we're treated as second-class citizens in the policing realm. There's not a lot of training that's necessarily available for first nation police departments. There's not a lot of advance training that's out there.
For example, in the province of Quebec, first nation policing is considered only a level 1. That's basic police services: You can answer the phone 24 hours a day, and that's it. There are so many first nation services in this province that provide so many other services that we've had to be creative in order to be able to provide that type of service.
Then again, when you look at it, the training institutions are providing training based on research they've done. What happens is that, when we send our officers and they end up coming back to the community, we have to make adjustments so that they're ready to provide the training that they've learned to our community.
For the Kahnawake Peacekeepers, we send all of our officers to the RCMP training academy: Depot Division in Saskatchewan. As far as I'm concerned, that's a great training institution and our officers are excellent, but before we put them out in our community, we also have our own field training program that adjusts the training that they've learned, so that way we're providing true community policing to our territory.
View Gary Vidal Profile
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I, too, want to recognize and thank all the witnesses for appearing today. Your testimony is valuable.
Mr. Sauvé, earlier today we had a witness who is a criminologist, Mr. Parent. He talked to us about an issue within the RCMP where they send recruits up into northern communities with very little training, maybe adding to that retention problem that you talked about a little bit earlier. A lot of RCMP members leave very quickly after being appointed; that was the testimony he gave.
There's also another barrier that I noticed in northern Saskatchewan that's created by sending young members into northern, rural and remote communities to gain so-called experience, when they have significant language and cultural differences that they have to overcome and they're there for a short time.
I'm wondering if I can get you to comment on that in the time that I have here.
Brian Sauvé
View Brian Sauvé Profile
Brian Sauvé
2020-07-24 16:05
For sure. Thank you.
Obviously, we do send our young members who graduate from Depot all over Canada. Part of this conversation, and part of the conversation I should be having with the commissioner, is how we can improve the ability to deploy our resources to set those members up for success. Those who get into Depot and graduate from Depot are really the best of the best, and we need to ensure that they are being set up for success, within the RCMP and within the communities they go to.
How can we make that better? How can we do that better? We definitely have ongoing conversations about that. Our recruiting and our training modules are definitely something we're open to discussing.
View Pam Damoff Profile
Lib. (ON)
My next question is for you, Chief Teegee. One of the concerns I have as we're looking at a new model is training. Training officers in the old way will not present new results. I'm wondering what your thoughts are in terms of training for first nations policing and whether there should be a separate indigenous police training academy.
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