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

Surrey students paint mural, paying homage to First Nations, at SkyTrain station

Artwork to showcase ‘positivity and racial inclusivity in the city’

PHOTOS: Residents showcased as ‘companion’ sculpture unveiled

Amica White Rock welcomes bronze guardian, celebrates resident talent

More than 50,000 checks: Surrey COVID-19 compliance, enforcement team’s role has ‘evolved’

Joint bylaw, RCMP team created to help with coronavirus education, support

Homemade explosives detonated in South Surrey

Police asking public for help identifying those responsible

White Rock highrise on hold after workers exhibit ‘severe’ overexposure symptoms

WorkSafeBC issued stop-work order at 1588 Johnston Rd. site on July 24

‘Don’t kill my mom’: Ryan Reynolds calls on young British Columbians to be COVID-smart

‘Deadpool’ celebrity responds to premier’s call for social influence support

Captain Horvat’s OT marker lifts Canucks to 4-3 win over Blues

Vancouver takes 2-0 lead in best-of-7 NHL playoff series with St. Louis

PHOTOS/VIDEO: Wings and Wheels set for weekend lift-off in Abbotsford

Fundraiser to raise money for Crystal Gala Foundation and the fight against breast cancer

Undercover video shows alleged animal abuse at Fraser Valley egg farm

One employee wearing logo of Chilliwack chicken-catching company already facing abuse charges

Widow of slain Red Deer doctor thanks community for support ahead of vigil

Fellow doctors, members of the public will gather for a physically-distanced vigil in central Alberta

Protesters showcase massive old yellow cedar as Port Renfrew area forest blockade continues

9.5-foot-wide yellow cedar measured by Ancient Forest Alliance campaigners in Fairy Creek watershed

Taking dog feces and a jackhammer to neighbourhood dispute costs B.C. man $16,000

‘Pellegrin’s actions were motivated by malice …a vindictive, pointless, dangerous and unlawful act’

Racist stickers at Keremeos pub leaves group uneasy and angry

The ‘OK’ hand gesture is a known hate-symbol

Most Read