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Good evening, Mr. Chair and Members of the Committee. Thank you for the invitation to speak on these critical issues.
I would like to acknowledge that I am speaking to you on unceded Algonquin territory.
The last several weeks have been extremely difficult for Canadians, for Indigenous, black and racialized communities, as well as for police officers.
This has sparked an important conversation across the country. I am listening and the calls for action have been heard.
My opening remarks outline RCMP modernization efforts in the wake of these recent events.
When I was appointed Commissioner two years ago, I said
"… I plan to challenge assumptions, seek explanations and better understand the reasons how we operate. This means that no stone will be left unturned."
The past two weeks have strengthened our resolve to advance change and step up our actions to:
- serve, protect and reflect all communities
- achieve reconciliation with Indigenous and racialized communities
- and bolster relationships built on recognition of rights, respect, mutual trust, cooperation, and partnership
We are not a perfect organization, but we will continue to learn, grow and evolve.
I am so very proud to lead the more than 30,000 employees of the RCMP who continue to have my deep appreciation for what they do every single day serving Canadians with dedication and professionalism. They do this out of an intense sense of fairness and desire to protect the vulnerable in every corner of this country and around the world.
Let me say, we are committed to seek out and eliminate all forms of racism and discrimination in our organization.
I have listened to RCMP employees and their families who are demoralized by the anti-police narrative that is painting everyone unfairly with the same brush.
But acknowledging that systemic racism is present in the Force does not equate to employees being racist.
It is about how an organization creates or maintains racial inequality, often caused by sometimes subtle and unintentional institutional biases in policies, practices and process that either privilege or disadvantage different groups of people.
I have heard from and reached out to many people. Listening, learning and reflecting on how these discussions translate into strengthening my organization.
I have spoken with Indigenous leaders, including Senator Murray Sinclair who spoke to me about taking a closer look at our recruitment and training. I also talked to MMIWG Commissioner Marion Buller who spoke to me about our ongoing commitment to work with and learn from communities that will help us make real progress.
I listened to Indigenous employees, both current and retired who reminded me of the importance of our roots in community policing and the importance of our connection to the people.
So what is the RCMP doing to strengthen this trust and counter systemic racism?
I want to talk to you about what we have done to date.
Actions to date
I was given a clear mandate to modernize and transform our culture.
In just over two years, we have made significant progress.
I have received input both internally and externally: from my National Council for Diversity and Inclusion, my Indigenous Advisory Committee, community leaders, particularly those in the Black and Indigenous communities.
I have established a new Indigenous Lived Experience Advisory Group, comprised of current and former Indigenous RCMP employees.
We are putting a stringent diversity and inclusion lens on our policies, programs, recruiting, training and practices to better understand some of the unintended barriers that exist, and to work to correct them.
Character-Based Leadership is being integrated in recruitment, training and the promotion process.
We have added more learning about Indigenous history for cadets, and incorporated Indigenous traditions into RCMP traditions through a number of ways, including supporting Indigenous employees wearing traditional items like the eagle feather and metis sash when donning our Red Serge.
We have updated national programs, including strengthened cultural awareness and training in unconscious bias and trauma-informed approaches.
And, we have enhanced RCMP participation in restorative justice initiatives across the country.
In terms of doing more to address systemic racism going forward, we are reprioritizing and enhancing our action plan to make changes at all levels - from recruiting to training to reporting and accountability.
We need to double down on hiring a more diverse membership as we want greater diversity to reflect the communities that we serve.
We are working to ensure that no unintended bias exist in our recruiting or training that could inadvertently and inappropriately impact some segments of society.
We are revisiting our relocation practices and looking at place-based recruitment so that officers remain in the communities where ties and roots are already established.
We also have to continue examining our policing models and look at solutions with the communities we serve, that are community focussed and community driven.
Use of Force
The RCMP was built on community policing and we respond to an average of 2.8 million calls for service each year.
Less than 1 percent of these calls involve use of force. Over 99 percent of incidents are resolved with communication and de-escalation, not use of force.
For those few incidents where force is used, our training and our protocols serve to ensure we are using the minimum amount of force. We rely on de-escalation and crisis intervention when necessary.
When it comes to holding employees to account, we have extensive operational policies designed to ensure transparency, accountability and openness.
Policing is a profession that has a broad range of accountability mechanisms. There is the oversight in the courts as, well as independent inquiries, commissions, inquests and reviews.
We are completely dedicated to making this great organization better than what it was when we started.
Our goal is for the RCMP to be the most respected and most trusted police service in the world. Grounded in solid relationships with all Canadians and particularly, our Indigenous, black and racialized communities.
We need to broaden the space for these difficult discussions, and build on ones already underway. It is an opportunity for real change and leadership. We are committed to doing just that.
Thank you, I look forward to your questions.