Fundamental transformation of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police is necessary to end systemic racism, concludes a landmark report by the Commons public safety committee.
It recommends the RCMP transition away from a paramilitary force into a police service with stronger civilian oversight, that the federal government support provinces and territories that want to develop their own police services and investigate ending contracts for RCMP policing.
“This, in my judgment, is a time for Canada to have a reckoning with itself and with its premier institutions,” committee chair John McKay said at a news conference after release of the 100-page report.
The report, Systemic Racism in Policing in Canada, released in June, makes 42 wide-ranging recommendations for police reform, 23 of which focus on the RCMP, which, aside from its federal role, polices all three territories and about 150 communities in all provinces except Quebec and Ontario.
While individual officers may not be racist, the report says, the policing system is founded on racism and reinforces the discrimination and bias that promulgates inherent injustice for First Nations, Métis, Inuit and other racialized groups in Canada.
Recommendations for the federal government also include strengthening the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP; appointing members from racialized groups; and mandating training and disciplinary policies to prevent excessive use of force, racism and racial profiling in the RCMP.
Recommendations for the RCMP include providing a family liaison officer and female officer in Indigenous communities; developing cultural awareness training in collaboration with First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples; screening recruits to weed out those with racist or gender bias; and enforcing its zero-tolerance policy on excessive use of force.
In response to the report, the RCMP said it was addressing systemic racism in Vision 150, its plan to modernize the service.
In evidence before the committee, RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki said the force aims to serve, protect and reflect the communities where it operates. The force has reviewed its policies and practices in an effort to identify barriers, correct bias and promote cultural awareness.
It has examined what can be improved in recruitment, training, reporting and accountability to counter racism. Among initiatives to improve inclusiveness, the force is now recruiting from the communities in which they serve.
A government response to the report was pending at press time.