The RCMP Commissioner and the head of the force’s union say they are “disappointed” by commentary from those who have speculated there may have been a different outcome to an incident at Rideau Hall had the intruder been another race.
Last week, Mounties intervened and arrested an individual who posed a “significant threat” to Rideau Hall in Ottawa, said a joint statement from RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki and National Police Federation President Brian Sauvé.
The National Police Federation is the only certified bargaining agent for regular members and reservists of the RCMP below the rank of Inspector.
“To suggest a more violent conclusion would have been inevitable if the suspect was of another race is speculative and disheartening to the responding officers, their families, and all partners who helped successfully and professionally resolve this threat,” they wrote late Friday.
“This creates an abstract and negative distraction from an evolving and important national dialogue with all stakeholders seeking solutions to societal issues.”
Last week, the RCMP laid 22 charges against a member of the Canadian Armed Forces from Manitoba after an individual allegedly rammed a truck through a fence and entered the grounds of Rideau Hall carrying at least one weapon.
The majority of the charges against Corey Hurren, 46, are related to the possession and transportation of firearms. He also faces one count of uttering threats.
On Wednesday, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said he viewed the event as an episode of “domestic terrorism”.
When asked if he thought there would not have been a peaceful resolution to the incident if the suspect had been a person of colour, Mr. Singh replied and said, “Yes.”
Commissioner Lucki and Mr. Sauvé rejected this in their Friday statement but did not name Mr. Singh by name.
“Our Members responded quickly and effectively to end a volatile situation using successful de-escalation techniques taught and practised by all RCMP officers,” they added.
RCMP officers follow a model that emphasizes the need to approach situations with the lowest level of intervention possible, they said.
“Through this model, RCMP officers successfully resolve the vast majority of crisis situations without using force,” they wrote.
“We welcome the constructive and necessary dialogue evolving across the country. The RCMP is changing and evolving to reflect the people and country we serve. It is already well underway and we are committed to so much more.”
In response to Commissioner Lucki and Mr. Sauvé‘s statement, NDP MP Matthew Green said the comments are another example of the RCMP Commissioner being unable to recognize systemic racism in the force.
Last month, Commissioner Lucki acknowledged the existence of systemic racism in her her organization after she previously questioned its application to the force in several interviews, including with The Globe and Mail.
Critics, including some Indigenous leaders, have asked what specific steps are being to address it.
Mr. Green also questioned on Friday what the Liberal government is doing to combat systemic racism within the force.
The House of Commons public safety committee is examining tragic deaths of Black, Indigenous and racialized people, Mr. Green added.
”This is less about the feelings of police, it’s about the tragedies families face when their loved ones die at the hands of the police,” he said. ”The incident at Rideau Hall is proof that under the greatest duress and threat, de-escalation works. But de-escalation is not always the experience of Black, Indigenous and racialized people. This should be the norm. Always.”
In a recent conducted by Nanos Research for The Globe and Mail, a strong majority of Canadians believe the RCMP has a problem with systemic racism, but they are divided on whether they have confidence that the force can fix it.
The poll, which asked Canadians about their views on systemic racism in the national police force, found that four in 10 Canadians, or 40 per cent, believe the RCMP has a problem and have confidence they can fix it.
Additionally, 35 per cent of Canadians believe the RCMP has a problem with systemic racism but do not have confidence they can fix it.
Another 14 per cent said the force does not have systemic racism, and 12 per cent were unsure.
Nanos Research says it conducted a hybrid telephone and online random survey of 1,049 Canadians, 18 years of age or older, between June 28 and July 2.
The firm says the sample included landlines and cellphones across Canada, and that the margin of error for the survey is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
It found residents of the Prairies more likely to say the RCMP does not have a problem with systemic racism, at 23 per cent, compared with people in Atlantic Canada at 11 per cent, Ontario at 12 per cent and Quebec at 9 per cent. Men were also more likely to say this, at 19 per cent, compared with 8 per cent of women.
The poll did not provide a specific definition of systemic racism.
-with files from Daniel Leblanc and The Canadian Press
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