Police and Prosecution Reform

Indigenous and racialized communities in Canada are over-policed. Moreover, police resort to force far too often, and frequently employ excessive force.

Racialized communities and those living at a lower socio-economic status are disproportionately “randomly” stopped and carded. Not only are these stops arbitrary, the information collected from them is not well-regulated. Police forces are sharing this information without proper respect for the privacy interests of people who are stopped, and without the necessary caution to ensure the information is not improperly used. (See [1]).

Our policing system deals with the symptoms of criminal behaviour and not the root causes. By refocusing our resources and efforts on addressing the root causes of crime, we can ultimately create a society in which the police are unnecessary and can be abolished.

Because policing in Canada is managed at both the federal and provincial level, the federal government must act in the areas where it has power to effect change. Primarily, this means the RCMP.

Canada should:

  • Over five years, defund the RCMP by 50% and reallocate those funds to initiatives and systems that empower communities to promote their wellbeing and prevent violence before it escalates. This reallocation of funding is particularly important in marginalized communities where policing disproportionately occurs.
  • Institute a national ban on carding, and prohibit the RCMP and CSIS from receiving or using information obtained from carding.
  • Strengthen civilian oversight of the RCMP by requiring the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission (CRCC) to disclose its reports in any case where the complainant and witnesses to the alleged RCMP misconduct consent to disclosure.
  • Require the CRCC to track and disclose annual data on the racial background of complainants.
  • Make the CRCC’s recommendations enforceable, so that the RCMP no longer has the authority to disregard the recommendations of the CRCC.
  • Conduct an external human rights audit of the RCMP annually to ensure progress against human rights indicators. The goal of this audit would be to support cultural change within the force and prevent further harassment and discrimination by the RCMP as detailed in the Merlo Davidson class action settlement.  The RCMP sought over $50 million dollars in extra funding to pay for this class action alone.  This money would have been better spent serving communities than paying for decades of harassment and human rights abuses.  (On the budget request, see [2]. On the settlement, see [3])
  • Require police forces to recruit equitably, so that forces reflect the racial, sexual orientation, and gender composition of the population they serve, and ensure that trainers are experts in equality, diversity and inclusion principles and practices.
  • Monitor prosecutorial decision-making for biases and tunnel vision in deciding which offenses to prosecute. This can be done, in part, by introducing a “contrarian thinking advocate” within Crown Prosecutors offices as recognized by the Public Prosecution Services of Canada. (see [4])

To ensure Canadian policing is de-militarized and shifts to non-violent policing approaches, Canada should:

  • Institute a major programme of training in non-violent policing, aimed at enhancing the trustworthiness of police forces within the communities they serve.
  • Review RCMP training methods and manuals to ensure these do not encourage the use of force, especially potentially lethal force.
  • Review hiring practices to ensure that recruits have the necessary skills to problem-solve without resorting to use of force.
  • Ban counter-productive training exercises between Canadian police and foreign police forces that have a record of infringing civil liberties or human rights.

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[1] https://www.mcscs.jus.gov.on.ca/english/Policing/StreetChecks/ReportIndependentStreetChecksReview2018.html#part_I
[2] https://www.canada.ca/en/department-national-defence/corporate/reports-publications/proactive-disclosure/vac-estimates-budget/rcmp-estimates-budget.html
[3] https://merlodavidson.ca/en/rcmp-settlement/the-agreement/
[4] https://www.ppsc-sppc.gc.ca/eng/pub/is-ip/ch2.html#ch2_4

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