Working to End Systemic Racism in Canadian Policing

The Ongoing Discussion of Racism in the RCMP

Dear Members of the Association,

New Brunswick Division member, retired S/Sgt. Rick Bohus has been in a series of conversations with a variety of individuals in an effort to shed some light on the issue of racism within the Force.

Rick has very generously supplied copies of the correspondence that he has had during the course of his discussions and they are shared with you to provide a profile of some of the work that our members are doing to support the Force.

James Forrest
Director of Communications
RCMP Veterans’ Association

Various Correspondence to PM Trudeau, Hon Bill Blair, MP Greg Fergus, the Commissioner and MP Singh.

June 25th 2020

Letter to MP Greg Fergus (Bloc)

Mr Fergus:

I have to thank you for your questioning of Commissioner Lucki with regard to systemic racism in the RCMP today.

I have noted below an email I crafted and forwarded to a reporter and a number of your colleagues in the House after the Commissioner’s “about face” on systemic racism about ten days ago. I have had no response from anyone and quite frankly I do not expect one. And to be up front with you, my letter has been published, in part, with our local paper here in Moncton, NB. Unfortunately, the media did not include a reference to the definition of “systemic racism” as defined by the Alberta Civil Liberties Research Center.

I served with the RCMP for 33 years and witnessed great strides in ensuring the policies and procedures within the organization were not disadvantageous to any group of individuals. I have worked with exceptional individuals from all walks of life and even today maintain contact with them.

For the period 1987 -1990 I was one of two Recruiting NCO’s in Toronto and my role was to develop community contacts in the various ethnic communities of that city. I worked in conjunction with a National Recruiting Team which travelled the entire country to assist in promoting the Force’s desire to attract minorities, women, bilingual individuals, and university educated individuals as well. I devoted a great deal of energy in developing these contacts and ultimately held many community forums where parents and their children were provided an overview of the RCMP. The main theme was that the RCMP provided career opportunities for anyone interested in law enforcement and that we welcomed people from diverse backgrounds. Of course, we were competing with other police organizations as law enforcement everywhere, primarily in large urban cities, recognised the valuable contribution that could be made by having their organizations mirror the faces of the communities in which they provided policing services.

So it will be of no surprise to you to understand just how hurtful and demoralizing it has been for retired and currently serving members to have had their leader claim that there is “absolutely systemic racism” within the RCMP. But without examples!!!

Thank you for drawing out Commissioner Lucki’s concept of what constitutes the topic at hand.

Sincerely and respectfully,

Richard Steven Bohus,
Moncton NB

Letter to John Paul Tasker – Parliamentary Bureau CBC

Good morning Mr Tasker:

Just finished reading your articles on systemic racism in the RCMP.

I can fully appreciate the struggles that some of the top brass within the Force have with the actual term. Yes, it has been acknowledged that there are likely those few who harbor racist attitudes while others may have biases based on experiences encountered prior to their engagement or after they joined the RCMP. But for the Commissioner of the Force and a senior officer to walk back their comments after listening to our Prime Minister whitewash the RCMP as housing systemic racism within its organization is shameful. Shameful because it is not true and shameful to witness senior officers of the Force bowing to political pressure and questionable political correctness; those senior officers have abrogated their responsibilities to all those dedicated members who put their lives on the line each and every day. They should step down.

And it is not enough for the Commissioner, our Prime Minister, and well-meaning individuals from all walks of life to suggest there exists systemic racism with the policies and procedures of the Force today.

Quote: “The Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre defines systemic racism as “the policies and practices entrenched in established institutions, which result in the exclusion or promotion of designated groups” and says “it differs from overt discrimination in that no individual intent is necessary.” Unquote.

If one is going to suggest the policies and procedures and other administrative practices of the RCMP are restrictive in nature to the point of disadvantaging minorities, please provide factual evidence or examples. Personally, I do not think for a moment that there exists policy in today’s RCMP which advantages certain individuals over others. I also believe there is a deliberate attempt to confuse the mindset of readers by implying and linking the word “racism” with the term “systemic racism”; they are two separate and distinct topics for discussion.

So once again I am asking you, where is there concrete examples of systemic racism within the RCMP? Or will you and others of your ilk continue to wrongly denigrate the RCMP as an organization that promotes systemic racism? ” Unquote

Richard Steven Bohus
Moncton, NB

July 7th2020 letter from MP Jagmeet Singh

Subject:NDP: Working to end systemic racism in Canadian policing

Thank you for writing and sharing your comments and experiences with me. I wanted to let you know more about why I asked our Canadian Parliament to recognize and examine systemic racism in the RCMP.

I wanted to start with the RCMP because Parliament has the federal jurisdiction and power to do something about it now. To end racial profiling and police brutality we need complete changes to the system that’s responsible for how policing in our national police force is conducted. I believe it’s time to challenge the beliefs and attitudes that make police behave in a racist way. That’s why a national review of police Use of Force policies, training and tactics is needed to dismantle this problem of systemic racism.

My June 17th motion asked that we look at the nearly $10 million a day that we’re spending on the RCMP and what we’re asking them to do, and to look at alternatives to some of these services – like wellness checks – and consider other options – like healthcare or social workers. I invite you to view or read the full text of my motion:

Regrettably, while all parties earlier had agreed to give unanimous consent, an individual MP decided to vote against the motion.

But it’s undeniable that systemic racism within Canadian institutions—and within policing, specifically—is a very real and very serious issue. That’s why New Democrats continued to push for a concrete plan from the government and the RCMP on how they intend to address the systemic racism that’s deep-rooted in Canada’s national police force.

What’s more, we know we can do better by investing in intervention, de-escalation, and mental health and addiction supports to help prevent crises from becoming police matters. We need to invest in housing, address poverty, and support community programs to prevent many of the situations that police are being asked to handle with guns and handcuffs.

And we need to get rid of the systemic barriers Indigenous peoples, Black Canadians and other racialized communities continue to face in their daily lives – like banning the practice of carding, resolving the chronic overrepresentation of Indigenous peoples and Black Canadians in the prison system, ending race-based employment discrimination, and improving the reporting of and data collection from hate crimes.

I believe it’s our individual and collective responsibility to keep working for the changes that will ensure all the people we know and everyone who lives in our communities can live their best lives. Together, we can build a future where racism, discrimination, homophobia, and transphobia have no place in Canadian society – where everyone is treated with the respect and dignity that we all deserve.

Thank you again for taking the time to be in touch. Stay safe!

Best regards,

Jagmeet Singh, M.P. (Burnaby South)
Leader, Canada’s New Democrats

July 12th Reply to MP Singh’s letter

Subject: NDP: Working to end systemic racism in Canadian policing

Mr Jagmeet Singh:

Let me first thank you for taking the time to actually respond to my correspondence on the 7th July. It is refreshing to actually have received a reply from an elected Member of Parliament and in your case, a leader of a National Party. But I do take umbrage with your caption line which is nothing short of being generic because within the very first line of your response you immediately specify and target the RCMP!

I have taken the time to read the Hansard version of your motion and I still take issue with the content of the motion which specifically identifies the RCMP as having systemic racism permeating throughout the National Police Service. It is more than obvious you have taken the liberty to redefine the definition of systemic racism; you have completely, or purposely, ignored the definition as espoused by the Alberta Civil Liberties Research Center which I had forwarded to you in my earlier correspondence.

It is astonishing that a parliamentarian and leader of a Party can utilize his or her position to grandstand before the entire country and cherry pick an individual organization devoted to protecting ALL Canadians. Your comments have demoralized and deeply hurt the men and women who have devoted themselves to serving the public good. You have done immeasurable harm to the recruiting efforts by the RCMP and, by extension, other police services to attract young people of diverse backgrounds. It is a noble profession which will now be hindered by your uninformed rhetoric which will do nothing but dissuade a young indigenous individual or person of colour from ever considering a law enforcement career.

That’s why New Democrats continued to push for a concrete plan from the government and the RCMP on how they intend to address the systemic racism that’s deep-rooted in Canada’s national police force. (Your words, not mine). (My words, not yours, “there is no deep-rooted systemic racism in the RCMP”)

Your examples of prejudicial treatment of indigenous and people of colour by the RCMP in everyday encounters with the police is fraught with inaccuracies. I wish you would review factual crime data and speak to that data as opposed to relying of several regrettable instances which still are being investigated. You wilfully and woefully ignore the millions of yearly contacts between citizens of this country and the RCMP but rather take delight in focusing on a very small percentage of questionable actions which can be expected given the number of encounters in any given year.

It is also disturbing to witness you throwing out the word “racist” which was directed toward a Bloc member of Parliament. So very easy to toss out that word whenever one does not get his way in this free and democratic country, isn’t it? And this has been followed by your most recent blockbuster and outlandish claim that the results of the police intervention on the grounds of the Governor General’s residence might have been different if the culprit had not been white!

I am 70 years old and have travelled throughout this country, the USA, a large portion of Europe, and a southern and sunny Island. I have encountered people from every imaginable background and we all associated with each other very well. I also have been exposed to self-proclaimed experts who, regardless of all evidence, will not give an inch to a sound and logical argument or rebuttal to their entrenched position; unfortunately, you have given me every reason to believe that you are one of those individuals.

I have shared this correspondence with a number of friends, family, and former colleagues who in turn may very well forward our interaction with their friends, family, and former colleagues.

As for your comment “stay safe”, believe me when I say I could not feel any safer given the fact my community is policed by the RCMP.


Richard Steven Bohus
Moncton NB

Editor’s Note

And one last passing quote from the RCMPRCMP officials have told CBC News that when a political leader faces a serious security threat, the RCMP will complete a threat assessment. The leader’s protective detail will then sit down with the leader to discuss how the RCMP would like to proceed. Together, all will then negotiate a plan.If the leader still wants to attend an event despite the threat level being high, the RCMP would implement additional safety measures.

Last month, sources told CBC News the RCMP were compiling daily threat reports on online hate targeting federal political leaders during the campaign leading up to the Oct. 21 election, fearing it could spill over into real-world violence.

Meanwhile, there has been an increase in online posts condoning violence during the campaign, according to government sources close to the file.



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