Mr. Speaker, Canadians are coming to a greater understanding of the role that the RCMP and policing in general have and continue to play in perpetuating systemic racism against indigenous and Black communities. It has become unmistakably clear that the RCMP needs transformational change. It needs to evolve from a paramilitary national police force with a colonial legacy into a modern, bias-free national police service with civilian oversight and accountability.
New Democrats fully support the recommendations laid out in the public safety committee's report on systemic racism in Canadian policing, but make the following additional recommendations.
First, the depot in Regina should be closed. For generations, it has indoctrinated new recruits into the paramilitary culture and structure. It needs to be replaced with a national police college built from the ground up that provides professional education and training in de-escalation, implicit bias, gender-based violence, cultural awareness and the history of colonialism.
Second, the government should consult with indigenous communities on whether they want a separate indigenous police college to provide training for indigenous police services rooted in cultural knowledge and history. The federal government should provide any required funding and resources for this.
Third, the government should introduce measures to immediately and automatically expunge all criminal records of convictions and findings of guilt for the simple possession of small amounts of cannabis, which we know disproportionately burdens Black, indigenous and other racialized Canadians.
Fourth, we should empower mental health professionals to be the first responders whenever possible, since for many the police embody the systemic racism that has permeated our system.
While we fully support the recommendations in this report, the transformation that is needed will simply not be possible unless the Prime Minister and the Minister of Public Safety take full responsibility for making that change happen with a whole-of-government approach.