Politics Briefing

June 7, 2020

Politics Briefing: Trudeau changes his talking point on police violence in Nunavut, and across Canada

Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

  Politics Briefing: Trudeau changes his talking point on police violence in Nunavut, and across Canada

Marieke Walsh


Twenty-four hours after he was first asked to respond to a video showing an RCMP officer driving his truck into an Inuit man, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had an answer.

“The videos and reports that have surfaced from across the country over the past few days are disturbing,” Mr. Trudeau said at his press conference in Ottawa Friday, without specifically naming any of the incidents.

The police brutality in Nunavut is being investigated by the Ottawa Police along with several other police incidents in the territory that the police in the city’s capital are probing. But it was far from the only case this week that raised more questions and again made clear the violent police conduct in the U.S. is also a problem in Canada.

On Monday, B.C.'s Independent Investigations Office recommended charges against five RCMP officers in the 2017 death of Dale Culver, an Indigenous man.

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On Thursday, Chantel Moore, an Indigenous woman, was shot and killed by an officer with the Edmundston Police Force, in New Brunswick. The police said the officer was called to Ms. Moore’s house for a wellness check. The force says the officer who responded to the call encountered a “woman holding a knife who made threats.”

The case will be investigated by the New Brunswick RCMP.

Mr. Trudeau said he would meet with his cabinet today to discuss the police violence and he will also be speaking with RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki. Late Friday, the Prime Minister’s Office said the meeting with Commissioner Lucki was moved to next week due to scheduling issues.

The Prime Minister’s cabinet colleague Marc Miller, who is responsible for Indigenous Services, delivered his government’s sharpest rebuke to the police treatment of Indigenous people.

“A car door is not a proper police tactic. It’s a disgraceful, dehumanizing and violent act," Mr. Miller said, “I don’t understand how someone dies during a wellness check.”

“I’m pissed, I’m outraged. There needs to be a full accounting of what has gone on. This is a pattern that keeps repeating itself. Police serve Canadians and Indigenous peoples of Canada, it’s not the opposite.”

“These independent inquiries need to bring justice," he added.

This week, the CBC also reported on violent arrests of Black men in Canada. The first, in Edmonton in 2018, where police used the same knee-on-neck restraint that was used against George Floyd in the U.S. The second, in Laval, Que., showed a violent arrest of a Black man last week.

Protests against anti-Black racism are scheduled across Canada today. In Toronto, Police Chief Mark Saunders took a knee in solidarity with the demonstrators marching near police headquarters.

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Marieke Walsh. It is available exclusively to our digital subscribers. If you’re reading this on the web, subscribers can sign up for the Politics newsletter and more than 20 others on our newsletter signup page. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.


Also today, Canada’s jobs numbers took a turn for the better, but the unemployment rate rose. As Matt Lundy reports, the country added 290,000 jobs in May after two months of brutal layoffs, a surprise turn for the job market as provinces have only recently begun to ease lockdown restrictions. Despite the gain, the unemployment rate rose to 13.7 per cent, the highest since comparable data became available in 1976, as more people started seeking jobs.

At his daily press conference, the Prime Minister also announced his government will offer the provinces $14-billion in financial support as they navigate their economic reopenings. The money will help to cover the costs of personal protective equipment and help cash-strapped municipal governments keep their services running. As Laura Stone reports, Ontario Premier Doug Ford wants a lot more cash from Ottawa.

The CBC reports that the Liberal MP for Kitchener South-Hespeler, Marwan Tabbara, is facing assault, break and enter and criminal harassment charges related to an incident that happened April 10 this year, Guelph Police have confirmed.

Alok Mukherjee (The Globe and Mail) on defunding the police: “About a decade ago, in response to growing public concern, a national consensus appeared to emerge among police boards and commissions and their respective municipalities – that the current model of using a highly paid, uniformed and armed police officer for all functions was obsolete, expensive and too often produced dire consequences.”

Michael Adams and Marva Wisdom (The Globe and Mail) on confronting anti-Black racism in Canada: “Canadians should challenge themselves to look past the deeply disturbing American news clips and reflect on the situation here at home, including the recent death in Toronto of Regis Korchinski-Paquet, a 29 year-old Black woman. If we do, we will learn there is no room for complacency in this country."

Peter Donolo (The Globe and Mail) on Trudeau’s 21-second pause: “Previous prime ministers have spoken up for Canadian values even when it ruffled presidential feathers. In 1965, Lester Pearson spoke out against the Vietnam War in a speech at Temple University in Philadelphia, inciting a monumental tantrum from President Lyndon B. Johnson; he also opened Canada’s doors to American draft dodgers. In 2003, Jean Chrétien kept Canada out of George W. Bush’s ruinous Iraq invasion, much to the consternation of that administration – and the vocal pro-U.S. lobby in Canada.”

Chris Selley (The National Post) on the fax machines in Jane Philpott’s way: “A jurisdiction as advanced as Ontario shouldn’t need a distinguished jurist to tell it that it shouldn’t be transferring critical public health information by fax, telex, telegraph, regular mail or horse relay. But it is yet another lesson that Ontario did not learn 14 years ago from Superior Court Justice Archie Campbell’s SARS inquiry — the one that supposedly turned us into a ruthless, well-oiled anti-pandemic machine.”

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