Trudeau, RCMP officials differ on police racism
EDMONTON -- The prime minister says systemic racism exists within all Canadian institutions, including Canada’s national police force. That message seems to go against what the head of the RCMP suggested, that it was more about unconscious bias.
"Systemic racism is an issue right across the country, in all our institutions, including in all our police forces, including in the RCMP," said the prime minister on Thursday.
It came one day after RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki said she struggled to define systemic racism, and claimed it wasn’t rampant within the national police force, at worst only an unconscious bias that preventive modelling helps to continually improve.
“We want to continue to learn from that and make sure that we absolutely in our organization promote that inclusion, and so when i think of it in those terms, it’s not completely systemic,” she said.
Alberta’s top Mountie also said he doesn’t believe racism is a widespread problem within the force.
"I don’t believe racism is systemic in policing in Canada, I don’t believe it’s systemic in policing in Alberta,” Curtis Zablocki said.
One sociology professor says while it’s troubling that two high ranking officials don’t see what the prime minister does, there’s more to making meaningful change than just replacing those at the top.
“In order to get into that position, there has to be something beyond the individual, and I think if we were able to reconfigure systemic as institutionalized that might help us better understand what’s happening here,” said Kalyani Thurairajah.
Thurairajah says Trudeau’s words about all Canadian institutions suffering from systemic racism are the big takeaway, and hopefully a pivotal moment.
“Everything is interconnected to policing are they more likely to be criminalized because they are under supported in school, likely to be more criminalized because they are not getting adequate health care, adequate housing,” she said.
She says it’s not just police who need to address it, we all need do.