PM announces summer 'work plan' to tackle systemic racism
OTTAWA -- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced his government's summer "work plan" to address systemic racism in Canada — including in policing and the justice system.
"Our goal is to come up with strong policies that will help eliminate barriers facing Indigenous peoples, racialized people and persons with disabilities," Trudeau said, speaking at a press conference on Parliament Hill Wednesday.
As a part of this plan, multiple ministers have different roles based on their portfolios that would see them update use of force standards in policing, ensure better protection for temporary foreign workers and recognize First Nations policing as an essential service.
The announcement followed a scathing critique from NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, aimed at Trudeau's response to anti-Black racism and police brutality.
In Singh's view, when it comes to calls from anti-racism activists and the thousands who have gathered in support of Black lives to address police brutality, he said Trudeau has done less than U.S. President Donald Trump.
During his press conference on Wednesday morning, Singh pointed to Trudeau's response to calls for defunding the police and reviewing the practices of the RCMP.
"He has done less to address police brutality and violence than even Trump has done. And that is shameful," Singh said.
Singh added that, when Trudeau apologized after photos of him in Black and brownface emerged during the 2019 federal election campaign, the Liberal leader asked Canadians to judge him on his actions, and by that metric the NDP leader doesn’t think he's doing enough.
"This is a moment right now, this is a movement right now where we've seen people killed and brutalized by the police…and specifically, Indigenous people and racialized people. So in light of that…why is the prime minister, simply giving symbolic gestures and saying words instead of doing something concrete?"
Trudeau responded to the critique during his press conference, pointing to the work Minister Blair has been asked to do.
"We need to end systemic racism in this country, and that includes looking carefully at what happens in our police forces and changing the protocols and the ways our police forces operate. Minister Blair is engaged in looking specifically at that," Trudeau said.
"We need to take the right action in concert with vulnerable communities. We're working with them, listening to them, but we need to do it quickly as well and that’s what we’re focused on."
As The Associated Press has reported, after weeks of national protests, in mid-June Trump signed an executive order to encourage better police practices, but didn’t mention the ongoing conversation around racism in doing so.
Around the same time, Trudeau spoke to the existence of systemic racism within Canadian institutions including the national police force, and said the RCMP would be equipping more members with body cameras.
Singh said that what Trump has done is still insufficient, but Trudeau has yet to actually advance direct policy changes in response to these recent calls for action. “Nothing in legislation, no changes to policy at all,” Singh said, calling it “very troubling.”
He is calling for Trudeau to act on the calls in the NDP unanimous consent motion that was defeated by one Bloc Quebecois MP. The Liberal caucus supported it.
Specifically, Singh wants to see the RCMP budget reviewed so resources can be reallocated to community resources; a review done on the RCMP’s use of force; and a commitment to end racial profiling by the RCMP.
“We don't need the prime minister to take a knee, we need the prime minister to take a stand,” Singh said.