People protest to defund the police in front of Toronto Police Service headquarters, in Toronto, Thursday, July 16, 2020. They didn’t always agree on what to do, but scores of concerned citizens penned letters urging the federal Liberals to address police mistreatment of Black and Indigenous people as the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota helped spark indignation about injustices in Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

People protest to defund the police in front of Toronto Police Service headquarters, in Toronto, Thursday, July 16, 2020. They didn’t always agree on what to do, but scores of concerned citizens penned letters urging the federal Liberals to address police mistreatment of Black and Indigenous people as the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota helped spark indignation about injustices in Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Trudeau Liberals got earful on police racism from concerned public, emails reveal

A letter writer urged the prime minister to take concrete steps to reform Canadian policing

They didn’t always agree on what to do, but scores of concerned citizens penned letters urging the federal Liberals to address police mistreatment of Black and Indigenous people as the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota helped spark indignation about injustices in Canada.

Hundreds of pages of correspondence disclosed through the Access to Information Act reveal deep mistrust of the RCMP and other police services, along with plenty of suggestions on how to make things better.

Many of the emails, from May 25 to July 1 of last year, were addressed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, though they all wound up in the inbox of Public Safety Minister Bill Blair, the cabinet member responsible for the Mounties and the federal prison and border agencies.

In most cases the senders’ names were removed, out of respect for privacy, before release under the access law.

“The people should know they are safe in the presence of the law,” said a message from Toronto. “Right now, many do not.”

A Verdun, Que., writer said that as a white male he had never experienced racial or gender discrimination, so he could not truly understand the pain and rage of people of colour. “But I feel their pain and will not remain silent.”

Added another letter: “Although we might need the police in some specific instances, the unrestrained force that they regularly use against Black and Indigenous people is appalling and completely unacceptable in a country like Canada.”

At an anti-racism rally in Ottawa last June, Trudeau put one knee to the ground, his head bowed, as others also took a knee around him. The demonstration was one of several events in Canada following days of rallies against racism and police brutality in numerous American cities prompted by Floyd’s death at the hands of police.

RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki initially stopped short last June of endorsing Trudeau’s assessment that the national police force, like all Canadian institutions, exhibits systemic racism.

In a sudden reversal soon after, Lucki spoke with regret for not having done so.

A writer from Powell River, B.C., told Trudeau in mid-June it was time for Lucki to go.

“Enough is enough! The replacement of the current commissioner will send notice to our police and all our nation’s people that this laissez-faire hedging and outright denial will not stand.”

A New Brunswick correspondent advised the prime minister that demanding Lucki’s resignation would not rid the RCMP of racism, and instead recommended improved recruitment and training of Mounties. “Selecting better suited candidates would go a long way in rectifying the situation.”

The Mounties should be completely removed from Indigenous communities, a writer from Amherst, N.S., said after seeing a video of the RCMP violently arresting Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation Chief Allan Adam in Alberta.

“I have read before that the Indigenous people have grown to distrust the RCMP and I now see why.”

A letter from Calgary urged Blair late last July to take drastic action by diverting funds from police forces to “those measures that actually address the root of crime,” such as education, mental-health services, housing and social work.

“There are countless examples of police brutality in Canadian history, and without acknowledging this fact and actively working to change it, there will continue to be,” the message says.

An email from B.C. rejected the notion of reducing police budgets, calling instead for better training of officers in arrest methods.

Another letter writer urged the prime minister to take concrete steps as soon as possible to reform Canadian policing to eliminate racial bias.

“Unfortunately, we haven’t done enough yet to save the lives and preserve the well-being of Black and Indigenous Canadians,” the letter says.

“I don’t know what the solutions are, but I encourage you to listen to the people who do.”

The House of Commons public safety committee is preparing to release a report on systemic racism in policing.

In last fall’s throne speech, the Liberal government promised legislation and money to address systemic inequities in all phases of the criminal justice system.

It pledged action on issues ranging from sentencing and rehabilitation to improved civilian oversight of the RCMP and standards on police use of force.

The planned measures also include modern training for police and other law-enforcement agencies, as well as broader RCMP reforms that emphasize a shift toward community-led policing.

In addition, the Liberals promised to speed up work on a legislative framework for First Nations policing as an essential service, seen as crucial to ensuring safety in Indigenous communities.

Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Justin TrudeauLiberalsracism

Just Posted

Grads at Riverside Park in Vanderhoof, B.C. (Aman Parhar/Omineca Express)
Vanderhoof celebrates 2021 graduates

NVSS grads got together at Riverside Park on Friday, June 11 in… Continue reading

Singing and drumming was heard in downtown Vanderhoof on Monday, June 14. (Aman Parhar/Omineca Express)
Photos: Honour Walk held in Vanderhoof

An honour walk was held Monday June 14 in Vanderhoof, remembering the… Continue reading

Emergency crews responded to the scene of a suspicious fire at the southeast corner of the OK Café in Vanderhoof Friday, June 11. The historic building is 101-years-old. (BC RCMP photo)
OK Café in Vanderhoof alright after suspicious fire

Damage kept to a minimum by firefighters

A person receives a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. Northern Health confirmed it has the lowest vaccination rates amongst the province’s five regional health authorities. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
Vaccination rates in Vanderhoof, Fraser Lake, Fort St James well below provincial average

COVID-19 immunization clinics for youth 12+ coming up in Fort St. James

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

(pixabay file shot)
B.C. ombudsperson labels youth confinement in jail ‘unsafe,’ calls for changes

Review states a maximum of 22 hours for youth, aged 12 from to 17, to be placed in solitary

Eleonore Alamillo-Laberge, 6, reads a book in Ottawa on Monday, June 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Parents will need to fight ‘COVID learning slump’ over summer: B.C. literacy experts

Parents who play an active role in educating their children this summer can reverse the slump by nearly 80%, says Janet Mort

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

The B.C. government’s vaccine booking website is busy processing second-dose appointments, with more than 76 per cent of adults having received a first dose. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations stable for Tuesday

108 new confirmed cases, 139 in hospital, 39 in intensive care

A worker, at left, tends to a customer at a cosmetics shop amid the COVID-19 pandemic Thursday, May 20, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Half of cosmetics sold in Canada, U.S. contain toxic chemicals: study

Researchers found that 56% of foundations and eye products contain high levels of fluorine

White Rock’s Marine Drive has been converted to one-way traffic to allow more patio space for waterfront restaurants. (Peace Arch News)
Province promotes permanent pub patios in B.C. post-pandemic plan

More than 2,000 temporary expansions from COVID-19 rules

Most Read