MP Morrison reflects on systemic racism in public service, RCMP

Kootenay-Columbia MP wants RCMP mandate letters to prioritize combating racism

Kootenay-Columbia MP Rob Morrison says prioritizing diversity and combating racism should be included in mandate letters for the RCMP commissioner and the public safety minister.

Morrison, who served with the RCMP for over three decades domestically and internationally, said he was left wanting for answers during a public safety committee meeting after questioning RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki and Bill Blair, the public safety minister, over systemic racism within the federal government public service.

Morrison also pressed Minister Blair over the dissolution of a cultural diversity advisory board for RCMP commanding officers in British Columbia.

“We wanted to talk and try and figure out what the RCMP was doing to deal with systemic racism that they’ve had and their next steps,” Morrison said.

He added that the public safety committee is going to have more meetings in the summer to identify issues of systemic racism in the RCMP and look at solutions to removing those barriers.

“I have some ideas on academia being involved, they’re independent, let them review our stats and interviews and come up with solutions based what they believe, not necessarily based on what the police believe, and so it’s more independent,” said Morrison. “And it’s not based on what politicians think, it’s based on having some academics from a variety of experts on criminology helping and guiding the RCMP and other provincial police forces and municipal police forces.”

The issue of racism in policing has touched off international demonstrations and protests ever since the death of George Floyd in the United States, a Black man who died after a police officer knelt on the man’s neck for over eight minutes during an arrest in Minneapolis.

Floyd’s death, which was recorded on video from a bystander, has sparked protests across the world and led to calls for law enforcement reform. In Canada, those protests amplified a week after Floyd’s death when Chantel Moore, a young Indigenous woman, was killed by police during a wellness check in New Brunswick.

In Cranbrook, demonstrators marched from the downtown Spirit Square to Rotary Park as part of an event to stand in solidarity against racism and discrimination on June 5. Similar events have been ongoing in communities across the province, which has put policing, and law enforcement funding, under the microscope.

Morrison said there are differences in police training, tools and responses with municipal, provincial and federal law enforcement between Canada and the United States.

“I think if you want to be critical — which is fine — let’s look at the RCMP, let’s look at Canadian policing and see where can we do a better job,” he said.

Deputy Commissioner Jennifer Strachan, the commanding officer for RCMP in British Columbia, issued a statement in response to ‘global events and demonstrations’ at the beginning of June, outlining steps the police have taken during cadet training to recognize biases, ongoing diversity training and describing the accountability process if a complaint is lodged against an RCMP member.

“Racism and discrimination are societal challenges that transcend policing, but the BC RCMP will continue its efforts to deliver a workplace and police services free of bias by addressing these issues openly and transparently as part of the global community’s united stand against prejudice,” reads the statement. “This is one of the ways in which we strive to improve ourselves, our service and public confidence in policing.”

Morrison admits there are challenges for rural policing, particularly for members who are first on-scene for emergency response calls that involve medical or mental health aspects.

“In our remote areas where we have two or three detachment members there, they’re everything,” Morrison said. “It’s not like municipal police where a lot of people who are reacting, perhaps, are in municipalities where they have instant medical, mental health care facilities to help them,” he said.

“But it’s training too, if the RCMP are going to be responding to those calls, let’s train them professionally and train them up so they can.”

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

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

Just Posted

Mount Baker students support Spooner Park initiative

Outdoor Education and Geography students work with Mainstreams to clear weeds, support ecosystem

Nine new COVID-19 cases announced in Interior Health region

The total number of cases since the pandemic started is now at 531 for the region

Cranbrook and Kimberley Councils support initiative calling on BC Gov. to cover prescription contraception

On September 14, 2020, Cranbrook City Council unanimously passed a motion calling… Continue reading

Former MP Wayne Stetski running for BC NDP in Kootenay East

Former federal MP Wayne Stetski is running as the BC NDP candidate… Continue reading

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 27 to Oct. 3

World Farm Animals Day, Drink Beer Day and Virus Appreciation Day are all coming up this week

Weekend sees 267 cases, 3 deaths in B.C.; Dr. Henry says events leading to COVID spread

There are currently 1,302 active cases in B.C., while 3,372 people are under public health monitoring

Canada’s population tops 38 million, even as COVID-19 pandemic slows growth

Immigration, the top population driver, decreased due to the pandemic

Lightning strike: Tampa Bay blanks Dallas 2-0 to win Stanley Cup

Hedman wins Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP

16 MLAs retiring from B.C. politics add up to $20M in pensions: Taxpayers Federation

Taxpayers pay $4 for every dollar MLAs contribute to their pensions

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

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Liberals seek to fast track new COVID-19 aid bill after CERB expires

Government secured NDP support for legislation by hiking amount of benefits by $100 to $500 per week

B.C. VOTES 2020: Echoes of HST in B.C. debate over sales tax

Cannabis, tobacco, luxury cars still taxed in B.C. Liberal plan

She warned her son about toxic drugs, then he was dead

Donna Bridgman’s son died at the age of 38 in Vancouver

Most Read