Singh calls on Trudeau to address systemic racism in police forces

Singh calls on Trudeau to address systemic racism in police forces

Singh said Trudeau needs to move on specific actions including reviewing the RCMP budget

If the Rideau Hall intruder had been a person of colour, the outcome of last week’s events in Ottawa would have been very different, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said Wednesday.

Singh, speaking to reporters on Parliament Hill, said that incident, contrasted with others in recent weeks when police in Canada killed Indigenous people and people of colour during visits to check on their welfare, “reminds us all of how systemic racism is real.”

Military reservist and Manitoba businessman Corey Hurren is in an Ottawa jail facing 22 charges for allegedly carrying weapons and making a threat against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Police say they arrested Hurren early on July 2, about 200 metres from Trudeau’s front door, after he allegedly rammed his pickup truck through gates at Rideau Hall and then ran with a loaded gun through the grounds towards Trudeau’s residence.

Police spoke to Hurren, who was still carrying at least one gun, for an hour and 42 minutes before he was arrested without anyone getting hurt. Singh said he is thankful for the safety of Trudeau and his family — who were not home at the time — and said he sees the event as an episode of “domestic terrorism.”

And when asked if he thought there would not have been a peaceful end to the event if the suspect had been a person of colour, Singh said simply, “Yes.”

Singh specifically mentioned Ejaz Choudry, a 62-year-old man who was shot by police in Mississauga, Ont., June 22, after his family called a non-emergency help line out of concern Choudry was not taking his medication. Choudry was diagnosed with schizophrenia, said his family after his death.

“That contrast — someone showed up to potentially kill the prime minister of Canada, or with weapons at his residence, and that person was arrested without any violence and you had a person who in his own home was killed,” said Singh. ”That to me is what systemic racism in policing is all about, that difference.”

Other recent incidents involving police that ended in deaths include:

—Chantel Moore, 26, a First Nations woman who was shot and killed by police called to do a wellness check in Edmundston, N.B., on June 4

—Rodney Levi, a 48-year-old First Nations man struggling with his mental health who was killed by police near Miramichi, N.B. June 12

—Regis Korchinski-Paquet, a 29-year-old Black woman from Toronto who died after falling from a 24th-story balcony while police were at the apartment for a family conflict that had left Korchinski-Paquet in distress.

Singh also said Trudeau needs to actually do something to address the issue of systemic racism within the RCMP. He said last fall, when images of Trudeau wearing blackface in multiple old photos emerged, Trudeau asked to be judged by his actions against racism.

Those actions, said Singh, have been nil.

“The most he has done is a vague reference to body cameras,” said Singh.

“The fact that President Trump, who has been horrible on this issue, who has said hateful things and I’ve called him out on that, has done more in terms of a concrete policy change than the prime minister of Canada who says that he is an ally, that to me is really troubling. He’s literally done nothing.”

In mid-June, as protests erupted all over the United States after Floyd George was killed by police in knee choke hold, Trump signed an executive order banning the practice unless an officer’s life is at risk.

Singh said Trudeau needs to move on specific actions including reviewing the RCMP budget with a view to shifting some resources to community services so police no longer respond to mental health crises as a norm. He also wants data collected on the use of force and a commitment to end racial profiling by police forces.

Shortly after Singh’s remarks, Trudeau said his cabinet has set a work plan for the summer to take concrete steps to address racism, including modernizing police structures and updating standards for the use of force and developing legislation to recognize First Nations policing as an essential service.

“We have our work cut out for us. We’re ready. Fighting systemic racism, unconscious bias and discrimination is a top priority for our government.”

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press

Jagmeet SinghJustin Trudeauracism

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A woman wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 uses walking sticks while walking up a hill, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Interior Health reports 83 more COVID-19 infections overnight

46 cases are now associated with a COVID-19 community cluster in Revelstoke

Laird Creek watershed logging road. Photo: Renee Hayes.
COLUMN: Healthy watersheds support resilient communities

Kendra Norwood writes about nature-based planning

Glacier Gymnastics head coach Sandra Long says she doesn’t understand why her sport is currently shut down while others are allowed to operate. Photo: Tyler Harper
‘It is bewildering’: Nelson sports leaders call out provincial shut down

Indoor group classes for activities such as gymnastics and dance are on hold

An employee of the Adventure Hotel was taken to hospital on Nov. 20 after she confronted a customer of Empire Coffee about not wearing a mask. File photo.
UPDATE: Nelson hotel employee suffers heart attack after being assaulted in anti-mask incident

This update includes the present condition of the victim and a comment from the police department

A tongue-in-cheek message about wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 on a sign outside a church near Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection count climbs back up to 656

20 more people in hospital, active cases still rising

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Interior Health said its new toll-free line will help people connect to health-care services. (File)
Interior Health expands toll-free line to improve access to community care

By calling1-800-707-8550, people can be connected to several health-care services

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C. researchers launch study to test kids, young adults for COVID-19 antibodies

Kids and youth can often be asymptomatic carriers of the novel coronavirus

A sign is seen this past summer outside the Yunesit’in Government office west of Williams Lake reminding visitors and members to stay safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
B.C. First Nation leaders await privacy commissioner decision on COVID-19 information

Release of life-saving data cannot wait, says coalition of First Nations

MLA Jennifer Whiteside is B.C.’s new minister of education. She is speaking out against Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld and asking him to resign. (Black Press)
New education minister calls on Chilliwack trustee to resign

Whiteside echoes former minister’s promise to look at options to remove Barry Neufeld

Peter Beckett. ~ File photo
Supreme Court of Canada to decide if it will hear appeal in 2010 wife murder trial

Peter Beckett has stood trial twice for murder in connection with the death of his wife, Laura Letts-Beckett

Most Read