Canada hired more female police officers in 2022, while the number of racialized officers remained unchanged

Of note:

The representation of women in police departments across Canada continued to increase in 2022, according to a new report by Statistics Canada, while the number of racialized officers remained largely the same.

More than 2,000 police officers and nearly 1,900 recruits were hired in 2021/2022, an increase of about 900 between the categories compared to the year before, the report says.

That year, 15 per cent more female officers were hired than the year before and 16 per cent more female recruits were hired. Recruits are people training to be police officers.

Overall, women represented 23 per cent of police officers in 2022, while just eight per cent of the police force comprised racialized officers, the report says.

Number of women officers continues to increase steadily

Police services in the country have been hiring more and more women since 1986, the report notes, when data on gender was first collected. At the time, women represented less than 4 per cent of all officers in Canada.

As of May 2022, there are more than 16,000 women working in Canadian police departments, up by more than 270 compared to 2021.

Most women on the force last year held positions as constables, making up about 24 per cent of all such positions in the country.

While women still represent a slightly smaller portion of senior and nonsenior ranks (commissioned and non-commissioned), the number of officers is rising on both fronts.

In 2022, 18 per cent of senior officers were women — the highest number recorded to date.

Racialized officers continue to represent less than 10 per cent of the force

While 26.5 per cent of Canada’s population was racialized in 2021, according to census data, only eight per cent of all police officers were racialized in 2022, the report found.

The figure did not change from 2021.

The report notes efforts are underway to boost diversity and inclusion among the ranks, highlighting the importance of representing the diversity of the population among police.

Racialized recruits, training to be police officers, did increase by three percentage points compared to 2021. That year, 11 per cent of recruits were people of colour, while the same was true for 14 per cent of recruits in 2022.

In the RCMP, racialized officers made up 13 per cent of personnel. In municipal services, they made up seven per cent.

Indigenous populations, meanwhile, made up five per cent of people in Canada in 2021, and four per cent of police in 2022.

In First Nations police services, more than half of officers identified as Indigenous.

They comprised 7 per cent of the RCMP, one per cent of officers in municipal police and two per cent of those in the Sûreté du Québec and Ontario Provincial Police, the report says.

Police operating expenditures increased by 12 per cent

Across the country, police services spent $18.5 billion in 2021/2022 on operating budgets.

After factoring in inflation, operating expenditures increased by eight per cent. That amounts to $342 per person for the 2021/2022 year, the report adds.

Salaries and wages accounted for 67 per cent of expenses, benefits were 17 per cent and other operating expenditures accounted for 16 per cent of the money.

The report credits the implementation of the first collective agreement for RCMPmembers and reservists, in part, for the increase.

Since a reckoning hit police services across the country in 2020, many anti-racism advocates have called for police funding to decrease or for services to be abolished altogether.

Others have made the case for initiatives such as new body cameras, that have added funding to police, and some have called for more police in the face of growing violence, as has sometimes been the case in Toronto.

‘Police strength’ decreases despite an increase in number of officers

The number of police officers compared to the Canadian population had been relatively stable for two years, but that rate decreased in 2022, the report says.

In 2022, the rate of “police strength” was 181 officers per 100,000 population, down one per cent from 2021.

This rate decreased despite there being about 70,560 police officers in 2022 — 400 more than the year before — due to the growth in the Canadian population.

This occurred as police calls increased by 2.7 per cent, which the report points out happened as pandemic restrictions eased and fewer people stayed at home.

The report also notes that civilian employees — clerks, communications staff, managers and other administrative professionals — are making up more police employees.

Source: Canada hired more female police officers in 2022, while the number of racialized officers remained unchanged

McWhorter: Police Brutality Is Not Always About Race

A reminder:

The brutal killing of Tyre Nichols by Memphis cops horrified and infuriated many Americans, not least because it was another in what has been an endless litany of Black men and boys killed by police officers in America: George Floyd, Eric Garner, Philando Castile, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown and literally thousands of names less well known. There is one confounding detail in Nichols’s death, however. The five policemen who mercilessly beat the life out of him were all Black.

Thus, to understand the full tragedy of Tyre Nichols, it is important to ask hard questions about the culture and behavior of police officers — including grappling with the fact that whatever role race played in Nichols’s death, it was more complicated than the racist-white-cop-kills-Black-man framework into which we typically sort such horrific episodes. One possibility that needs further exploration is the role that poverty plays in determining the victims of police killings — a characteristic that overlaps with but is obviously distinct from race.

Much of the conversation about police violence in recent years has been through a lens of systemic racism, white cops and antiracism reform goals. But a man (or a woman) who is killed by a police officer merits our attention and response, regardless of the race of either victim or killer. There has long been a theory afoot that hiring more Black cops would result in fewer shootings of Black civilians. But there is little evidence that this intuitive solution has any meaningful effect. (It’s worth noting here that there is substantially more readily available data regarding the race of victims of police violence than that of the perpetrators.)

More than one study has suggested that the difference in likelihood between white and Black cops killing Black people is much smaller than one might suppose. Expert observers on the subject regularly concur, and it is a commonplace in Black community discussions that one cannot necessarily expect any particular clemency from Black officers in tough situations. The Memphis Police Department is 58 percent Black and has a Black police chief; that did not prevent the horrific acts of violence perpetrated on Nichols.

As Duane Loynes Sr., an assistant professor of urban and Africana studies at Rhodes College in Memphis, told The Los Angeles Times’s Jaweed Kaleem, “Here’s a dirty little secret: Studies indicate that Black officers are just as brutal and at times even more brutal against Black bodies as their white counterparts.”

The point is not that we don’t have a grievous problem but rather that the problem is not exclusively racist white cops. It’s cops, period. (An important note: When it comes to nonlethal mistreatment, as opposed to police shootings, studies demonstrate the existence of outright racial bias. This is very much a problem but a very different problem from police killings.)

The way we are trained to view the situation is understandable but outdated. As recently as the 1970s and 1980s, cops killed people — Black and white alike — at much higher rates in major cities than they do now, as the criminologist Peter Moskos has shown. I grew up in the Philadelphia of that era, where Mayor Frank Rizzo openly condoned cops’ brutality against Black people. By morbid coincidence, I saw the gruesome videotaped beating of Nichols shortly after I rewatched Melvin Van Peebles’s pioneering 1971 film “Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song.” In the movie, Van Peebles plays a Black man on the run from racist white cops whose shameless, bloodletting brutality roughly corresponded to what some Black people of the period actually experienced. A lot of time has passed since then, but the way we discuss police brutality against Black people today can sometimes make it sound as if there is no difference between the situation Van Peebles depicted — of marauding, openly racist cops — and the one we face today.

Yet white Americans are also killed by police officers in appalling numbers — many more, overall, than Black Americans, owing to the fact that the latter make up only about 14 percent of the U.S. population. In 2022, The Washington Post’s database on cop killings documented that of 755 victims whose race was known, 225 were Black and 389 were white.

Because casual and sometimes lethal violence against Black people by cops is part of our shameful and still recent national narrative, names like those of the victims I cited earlier sometimes become national news stories. But the media rarely even covers police killings of white people, which don’t fit so neatly into that existing narrative.

So we largely missed the story that in 2015 in Paradise, Calif., a white officer, Patrick Feaster, shot a white man, Andrew Thomas, as he was getting out of the S.U.V. he had crashed during a pursuit, even as Thomas’s wife lay gravely injured on the ground at the scene. The parallel with what happened to Nichols is ghastly, as is that between Floyd’s murder and what happened in 2016 to Tony Timpa, a white man in Dallas. Although Timpa had requested police officers’ help because he was off his medication, he was killed when they pinned him to the ground as he called out desperately. It was recorded on the officers’ body cams. Members of Timpa’s family have contacted me wondering why the media had so little interest in what happened to him; last year, the officer who had pinned him was promoted.

A common response here is to note that nevertheless, police officers kill unarmed Black people at more than three times the rate they kill unarmed white people and that this disproportionate rate of Black killings demonstrates that racism affects whether cops kill. But this assumption seems oversimplified. One reason is that poverty also helps determine whether — and in what way, with what results — one encounters the cops.

The police are called to, as well as directed to, poorer neighborhoods more often than to middle-class or affluent ones. Poverty can nudge a person into criminal activities — including intrinsically violent ones, such as the illegal drug trade — that are far more likely to lead to dangerous encounters with cops. It is also not an accident that so many of these gruesome killings by cops happen when someone flees after being stopped because he already has an outstanding warrant. Such warrants are frequently outstanding as a result of poverty.

And in a striking parallel, unarmed Black people are not only more than three times as likely as white people to be killed by a cop but also more than twice as likely to be poor. In 2021 the poverty rate for white Americans was 8.1 percent, while for Black Americans, it was 19.5 percent.

We could propose that the match between these statistics bears no relevance to the issue of police violence and racism and dismiss them as a coincidence. But this would be willfully resistant to examining the significance of patterns in a way that no one would even venture in drawing parallels between, for example, poverty rates and obesity.

Police killings of unarmed or unthreatening American citizens are a national disgrace and one that requires action. But action requires comprehension, and the simplest explanation — “racist white cops kill Black people” — is clearly often not the correct one.

Source: Police Brutality Is Not Always About Race

Sears: Convoy inquiry reveals another Canadian intelligence fiasco

One of the better commentaries. Paul Wells on substack continues to have a number of must read commentaries:

The developed world grudgingly accepts that its intelligence agencies have a perennially poor performance record. Despite the tens of billions of dollars we spend on them, their list of failures is breathtaking: Iraq, 9/11, prediction that Afghanistans would survive and Ukraine wouldn’t. 

In Canada, we have our own humiliations: Air India and the rendition of Canadian citizens to be tortured in police states. The most recent horror is CSIS’s employ of a human trafficker as its agent, then lying about it to allies.

The guru of intelligence history, Christopher Andrew (“The Secret World”), observes that these disasters are rarely a failure in intelligence collection. More often it is failures in sharing, analysis, and execution. However, as the convoy inquiry (officially, the Special Joint Committee on the Declaration of Emergency) has made glaringly clear, Canadian intelligence and police agencies often fail at collection, as well. 

Bizarrely, CSIS, RCMP and OPP have for years failed to understand and master the power of social media. They monitor the obscure hate sites peripatetically. They fail to see patterns, share findings, or dig into identities and connections. Shopify does a better job at it than Canadian security agencies. Perhaps we should retain them. 

It is the absence of an aggressive outbound social media strategy that is even more astonishing. No agency smacks down misinformation, calls out lies and disinformation, let alone offers a more Canadian view on issues from race to terrorism. The reason may be that they fear to be seen to be “political.” No other NATO country’s spooks are so meek, they use surrogates.

Several police and intelligence agency leaders have shared with me their frustration at their bosses failure to understand the essential role an effective social media strategy has today. It is predictably, generational. Mine doesn’t get it, my son’s generation do.

The OPP’s nose-stretchers are a case in point. Their witnesses claimed on the one hand that the Ottawa Police Service did not digest their intel warnings about the convoy’s potential for violence. Then in the same testimony they concede they did not have any “specific” evidence of such tendencies. Nor can they claim that they raised the alarm with any other agency or police service with the intensity their intel teams were shouting for.

A teen at a screen in their basement could have pointed them to the dozens of cases of inciteful rhetoric and the open calls for violent overthrow of the government, months in advance. The Inquiry has made clear this needs to be addressed urgently: work the social media platforms faster, more deeply, and share your findings. 

The second revelation of the Inquiry: little has changed since Bob Rae revealed the staggering cost in lives of CSIS and the RCMP’s mutual enmity. They treat each other, and their political masters, as interfering and untrustworthy threats. Why was their no high-level forum among three levels of government, and their agencies, weeks before the convoy arrived.

Blaming the dysfunctional state that the Ottawa police had descended to is a useful out for the OPP and RCMP. It is no defence, however, for their failure to do everything they could to ensure public safety. John Morden in his blistering assessment of the G20 Summit disaster made all of these points crystal clear more than a decade ago. No one, apparently, took him seriously.

The politicians hiding under their desks for the first two weeks are the most galling: Premier Ford refusing to even attend a high-level meeting, Justin Trudeau clinging to his “separation of powers” fig leaf until dropping it in favour of the Emergency Declaration, as his inner circle finally realized that this was going to bite them too; and the slippery mayor of Ottawa conspiring behind his own chief’s back to hire a completely unqualified negotiator who reached a deal to move even more trucks to Parliament Hill. Some deal! Political vanity made a bad situation even worse. 

The inquiry has been a blessing already. It has revealed incompetence, infighting, and childish jurisdictional games in texts, emails and testimony. Let us hope some of those tarnished by its revelations now sit down and apply its lessons — before the next armed attack on Ottawa.

Source: Convoy inquiry reveals another Canadian intelligence fiasco

‘There is systemic discrimination in our policing’: New Toronto police data confirms officers use more force against Black people

Significant. However, most activists remain sceptical, at least the ones I heard on CBC:

The hard data proves what has long been known and felt by members of the city’s Black communities.

Toronto police officers use more force against Black people, more often, with no clear explanation why. Except for race.

That is a key takeaway from a landmark new report containing never-before-seen data on officer use of force and strip searches — statistics that, for the first time, were collected and released by the Toronto Police Service itself.

The race-based statistics are so stark that Chief James Ramer offered an apology to the city’s Black community, coinciding with the release of a 119-slide presentation on the force’s findings.

“I am sorry and I apologize unreservedly,” Ramer said Wednesday morning.

“Our own analysis of our data from 2020 discloses that there is systemic discrimination in our policing,” Ramer said. “That is, there is a disproportionate impact experienced by racialized people, particularly those of Black communities.”

Meanwhile, police this weekend warned officers to brace for a “challenging” public reaction that will “lead some people to question the hard work you do every day.” 

Among the major findings: In 2020, Toronto officers used force on Black people about four times more often than their share of the population — and Black Torontonians were five times more likely to have force used against them than white ones. 

And in those cases when force was used, an officer was more than twice as likely to draw a firearm on a Black person they thought was unarmed than a white person they thought was unarmed. 

The statistics show overrepresentation in other racialized communities, too. If you are Indigenous, you were more likely to be subjected to a strip search, a highly invasive police practice; and members of the Latino, Middle Eastern and Southeast Asian communities were also more likely to have force used against them.

The sobering data released Wednesday aligns with past external reports that have found Black people are overrepresented in police use of forcein this city. 

But the new data uses internal police records to go a step further, evaluating racial disparities in police use of force not only against the city’s population but within the pool of people interacting with police — those who were arrested, considered suspects, ticketed for provincial offences and more.

“This allows us to compare outcomes against the population that actually had contact with police,” a Toronto police statement said, adding it allows police to “focus our efforts on the actions that we can control.”

In other words: If officers were simply responding to higher rates of crime in any one group, this method should make the racial disparity disappear.

Even here, Black people were overrepresented, found to be 1.6 times more likely to be subjected to force compared to their percentage of total police interactions in 2020. Latino people were overrepresented by 1.5 times and Middle Eastern people were overrepresented by 1.2 times.

And Black people were already more than twice as likely to be the subject of this baseline police enforcement. Although they represented approximately 10 per cent of the city’s population in 2020, they accounted for 22 per cent of what police called “enforcement actions,” including arrests, tickets and other stops.

The police report has been independently peer-reviewed, Ramer said. 

He added: “This is some of the most important work we have ever done.”

Where the data is coming from

The race-based data released Wednesday details the use of force and strip searches conducted by Toronto police in 2020.

The use of force data is taken from Ontario’s “use of force reports” — documents required to be filled out whenever an officer uses physical force requiring medical attention, deploys a TASER, or draws or points their firearm. In 2019, Ontario’s provincial government required all police services to begin recording the officer’s perception of the race of the person they used force against.

Toronto police then cross-referenced these reports with internal “occurrence” reports — allowing them to conduct a deeper analysis, including of the type of call and the location of the incident.

In total in 2020, Toronto police said there were 949 use of force incidents involving 1,224 members of the public. Of those, 39 per cent were perceived as Black, while 36 per cent were perceived as white. (In 2020, 46 per cent of Toronto’s population was white.)

In 2020, Toronto police also began recording officer perception of race for strip searches — an invasive procedure conducted on people who are arrested. For years, Toronto police and other services were not capturing race-based data on strip searches, something critics said was long overdue.

The data analysis independently reviewed “leading experts” in race data collection with a human rights lens, Toronto police said. Since it began collecting race-based data, Toronto police has been consulting with a community advisory committee that includes members of Black, Indigenous and racialized communities.

Use of force — from low to high

Police use of force reports capture a range of interactions. Lower level force includes the use of aerosol spray, a baton, a police dog or a strike with a hand. Less lethal force is the use of a Taser or bean bag gun, and higher levels of force include when a firearm is pointed or discharged.

Of the 949 use of force incidents in 2020, a firearm was pointed at someone 371 times. The gun was fired four times, twice killing someone.

When officers use force, Toronto police were more likely to point a firearm toward a Black person compared to a white person.

Even in situations where police believed the subject was armed, a Black person was 1.5 times more likely to have a gun pulled on them than a white person in the same scenario.

The difference increased even when police didn’t think the subject had a weapon. In that scenario, a Black person was more than twice as likely as a white person to have a police officer pull out their gun and point it at them.

Black, South Asian and East/Southeast Asian people were more likely to experience higher uses of force compared to white people when it came to “less than lethal force,” such as a bean bag gun.


Toronto police also examined police officer use of force rates in police divisions across the city. The results showed that, overall, incidents involving white people had lower use of force rates while those involving Black people had higher use of force rates. 

The differences appear to be stark in some mid-Toronto police divisions, including downtown’s 51 and 52 Divisions. 

In those areas, officers used force on a white person in .5 to .75 per cent of all enforcement interactions (such as arrests). But when the person was Black, force was used in more than 1.75 per cent of these same interactions — numbers that show these divisions used force against Black people around two to four times more frequently.

The differences, Toronto police said, are “not explained” by the demographic makeup of the local population. 

In other divisions there is a much lower racial disparity, or none at all, according to the data. In Scarborough’s 42 Division and midtown’s 53 Division, for example, the data shows no difference in use of force between white and Black people.

Calls for service and types of offences 

In calls for service that were classified as violent, Black people were 1.2 times more likely and Indigenous people were 1.4 times more likely to be on the receiving end of officer use of force, according to the data.

With calls regarding a person in crisis, Black people were nearly two times more likely to be subjected to force, while Indigenous people were 1.4 times.

Black people were found to be more likely to be subjected to police officer use of force in incidents involving assaults, mental health calls, fraud, mischief and robbery. 

Strip searches

In 2020, more than 22 per cent of all arrests — more than one in five — resulted in a strip search by Toronto police (7,114 strip searches in total, from 31,979 arrests). 

Of those, 31 per cent of those strip searched were perceived as Black, roughly three times their share of the population and higher than their 27-per-cent share of total arrests.

Indigenous people showed the highest overrepresentation in strip searches. They were overrepresented by 1.3 times compared to their presence in all Toronto police arrests. They accounted for just three per cent of the total arrests but represented to 4 per cent of all strip searches. 

The data was collected the same year Toronto police made a significant policy change to strip searches in response to a scathing report by Ontario’s police complaints watchdog that found the force conducted “far too many” strip searches. Before, more than 27 per cent of arrests resulted in a strip search; following the changes, which included having a supervisor sign off on all strip searches, that number dropped to 4.9 per cent of arrests.

Data from 2021 shows a marked decline in the number of strip searches, though arrests involving white and Black people were still more likely to result in a strip search, compared to the average. 

Source: ‘There is systemic discrimination in our policing’: New Toronto police data confirms officers use more force against Black people

And a somewhat contrary view regarding the need to include the context of crime rates in communities:

The problem with the Toronto Police report released Wednesday concluding that Blacks, Indigenous people and other racial minorities are disproportionately targeted by police when it comes to use-of-force incidents and body searches, is that it looks at only half the issue. It concludes the reason for this is systemic racism within the police force, for which Police Chief James Ramer publicly apologized and pledged to do better going forward, noting the study recommends 38 “action items” police will implement along with dozens of recommendations in other studies.

But what the report excludes are the crime rates in the various communities with which the police interact.

Logically that’s part of the equation because if they are higher in some communities than others, that will impact the frequency and type of their interactions with police.

However, it has been illegal for police forces in Ontario to gather or reveal this data for decades.

That was the result of a controversy that erupted in 1989 when then Toronto police superintendent Julian Fantino released statistics suggesting Blacks in one Toronto community were disproportionately involved in crime.

Fantino said he did it to counter allegations police were racist.But politicians, criminologists and civil rights groups responded that releasing the data without the context that the Black community was over-policed, was unscientific and would feed into racism.

As a result, race-based police statistics today are used solely to search for systemic bias within policing.

Scot Wortley of the University of Toronto and Maria Jung of Toronto Metropolitan University in a 2020 report for the Ontario Human Rights Commission which concluded Blacks were disproportionately arrested and charged by Toronto police compared to whites, cited both theories to explain why this happens.

One is the “Bias Thesis” which argues, “Black people are over-represented in police statistics because they are subject to biased or discriminatory treatment by the police and the broader criminal justice system. “Rates of Black offending stem from the negative consequences of centuries of colonialism, slavery and racial oppression … The impact of intergenerational trauma and contemporary social disadvantage, in turn, results in higher rates of Black offending.”

An alternative explanation, the “Higher Rate of Offending Thesis” argues “Black people engage in criminal activity at a higher level than other racial groups and this fact is accurately reflected in official crime statistics … when such factors as the criminal history of individuals and the seriousness of their offences are considered, there’s no evidence disparities in arrest rates are the result of police racism.”

The authors of the OHRC study cited “growing evidence (that) suggests that both explanations have merit … (that) the over-representation of Black people in arrest statistics may be caused both by higher rates of offending and racial bias within the criminal justice system.”

That is, police disproportionately arrest and charge Blacks (for example) because while the vast majority of Blacks are law-abiding, a minority are disproportionately involved in criminal activity and the reason is often due to the adverse social and economic conditions faced by Blacks because of systemic racism, not just in the police force, but in society in general.The problem is that by continuously ignoring the issue of crime rates within the communities with which the police interact, we are no longer looking honestly or completely at all aspects of the issue.

This will inevitably contribute to public skepticism among many about the findings of this latest report by Toronto Police identifying systemic racism in the force.

Source: GOLDSTEIN: Here’s why we no longer talk honestly about police race-based data

Why aren’t more hate crime charges being laid in Canada? A Globe and Mail analysis examines police performance across the country

Good in-depth useful analysis. Money quotes:

A Globe and Mail analysis examined the performance of the country’s 13 largest municipal and regional forces, six of which had multiple officers dedicated full-time to solving hate crimes. The average rates at which individual forces solved a hate crime by charging someone – or “cleared” it, in police-speak – varied widely, ranging from six per cent to 28 per cent. But, in general, those forces that devoted more resources, such as full-time investigators and community liaison officers – like Montreal, which had an overall rate of 27 per cent through The Globe’s data period – tended to lay charges more often.

Those that did not fared the worst. Winnipeg, which has long had only a part-time co-ordinator reviewing their colleague’s hate crimes cases, ranked lowest in the Globe analysis at six per cent.

 2018 European Union study of the “life cycle” of hate-crimes cases in Sweden, England and Wales, Ireland, Latvia and the Czech Republic may hold clues for Canada as to how a suspect’s bias is often “filtered out” during the criminal justice process. The study found that this happened at the beginning, when police initially recorded the incident, but failed to tag the hate motivation behind it.

Researchers in England and Wales noted from interviews with prosecutors that many officers were well-versed in the nuances of racial or religious discrimination, but they often missed a suspect’s bias against other protected groups, such as those with disabilities. Prosecutors too often relied on the words uttered by a suspect as they committed a hate crime, and may not be as adept at proving this bias when prosecuting incidents where nothing was said at all.

“They talk about hate disappearing as you move through – and that’s clearly what is happening here [in Canada],” said Dr. Perry.

Source: Why aren’t more hate crime charges being laid in Canada? A Globe and Mail analysis examines police performance across the country

Quebec’s population is changing, but the makeup of the province’s police forces is not, data shows

Lag in most police forces across the country last time I checked, as institutions change more slowly than the population:

In Repentigny, a suburban community east of Montreal, it’s rare to see a person of colour in a police uniform. In fact, there are only two.

Pierre Richard Thomas, a local advocate, said Black residents often feel like they aren’t treated equally.

“For an adult or a young teen, seeing a police officer is worrying. It’s frustrating,” said Thomas, a spokesperson for Lakay Média, a Haitian community organization.

The situation in Repentigny is among the most extreme examples of the gap in representation between Quebec police and the general population, an analysis by CBC News shows.

Only two per cent of the police service in Repentigny identifies as a visible minority, and none as Indigenous, compared with 12 per cent of the general population.

CBC requested the latest figures on staffing from 12 police services across the province and compared them to the latest census data from 2016 for the areas they serve.

Suburbs becoming more diverse

The results show police officers across the province remain overwhelmingly white, even as visible minorities (the term used by Statistics Canada and police to describe people of colour) account for a growing percentage of those living in Montreal and municipalities farther afield.

The fast-expanding suburbs outside the city, in particular, are becoming more racially diverse.

But the police services remain mostly white, even though recruiting officers from a wider variety of backgrounds is a stated goal of the provincial government.

The chart below illustrates the divide between police services and the populations they serve, with the RCMP’s Quebec division coming closest to being representative of the population.

Quebec police forces don’t reflect population they serve

Representation of Indigenous and visible minorities among police is far lower than in the general population.


The issue of racial inequity in policing was thrust to the forefront again this week, after a video captured Quebec City police officers dragging, hitting and pinning down Black youths in the snow.

Five officers were suspended in connection with the incident. The Quebec City police service, which has come under scrutiny in the past for a lack of diversity and allegations of racial profiling, is investigating.

Quebec City police did not provide up-to-date statistics this week, but as of June 2020, it had no Black officers out of a total of 853. According to the most recent census figures, there were more than 12,300 Black residents in Quebec City, accounting for 2.4 per cent of the city’s population.

Findings from CBC’s analysis include:

  • Thérèse-De Blainville and Deux-Montagnes have only one officer each who identify as visible minorities.
  • Châteauguay has the most representation of visible minorities and Indigenous people of any of the 12 police services.
  • Laval and Montreal have the widest discrepancy between their populations and police services.
  • There has been little change since CBC’s last analysis of police data in 2016, although the number of visible minorities in Montreal police is up by two percentage points.

Troubling, but not surprising, expert says

Akwasi Owusu-Bempah, an expert in policing and an assistant professor in sociology at the University of Toronto, reviewed the data.

He said the findings are troubling but not surprising — given similar gaps in representation have been documented across Canada.

Research has found that a greater diversity in police departments improves trust in those institutions.

But there’s also no clear indication it leads to more equitable policing.

“I don’t think that the diversification of police agencies is necessarily a panacea to dealing with all of the issues of racial and other forms of bias that we have. But I do think that representation is important,” said Owusu-Bempah, an adviser on anti-Black racism to the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

“It’s something that we should be striving for.”

Improved oversight of police and better training are also crucial, said Rashawn Ray, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a sociology professor at the University of Maryland.

“Police officers, regardless of their race or their gender, their background, they’re trained in a similar way. They’re socialized to police people in a similar way,” said Ray, who oversees a training program that uses virtual reality simulations to improve equity in policing.

He added, though, that the mere optics of more people of colour in uniform can build a stronger relationship with the communities police serve.

Hiring a challenge, police say

Repentigny typifies the struggles seen in smaller municipalities outside Montreal. A report released by academic researchers in September found Black residents were 2.5 to three times more likely to be stopped by local police than their white counterparts.

In the wake of those findings and the shooting death of a Black man last August, the Repentigny police service announced a five-year plan that includes a commitment to “inclusive” hiring practices.

But the police service said it will take time to make changes, given they rarely have full-time jobs available and don’t offer the potential for career advancement as a job in a bigger city.

“As a smaller police service with limited possibilities of advancement, hiring in itself is a challenge for us,” said Éric Racette, assistant director of the police service.

“This being said, we acknowledge that we must do better to increase those numbers.”

Quebec police services have tried to address the problem with programs aimed at encouraging people of colour and Indigenous people to become officers.

The Montreal police and the Quebec provincial police are among those taking part in a fast-track program through the provincial police academy in Nicolet aimed at bringing in a more diverse range of hires, including women.

In separate statements, both police services said they were committed to improving the diversity of their ranks.

Nine per cent of Montreal police identify as visible minorities, compared with 33 per cent of the city’s general population. The provincial police are nearly entirely white, with only three per cent identifying as visible minorities.

A spokesperson for Montreal police said the service is “increasing its resources and efforts to interest young people in police careers, particularly those from ethnocultural and Indigenous communities” in order to “be like the population it serves.”

Montreal police launched a recruitment campaign last May urging Montrealers, including women and people of colour, to “become an agent of change.”

Change in approach needed, advocate says

If police want to improve trust and help citizens feel less fearful, they’ll have to change the way they operate, said Margaret Wilheim, an anti-racism advocate in Châteauguay, on Montreal’s South Shore.

Wilheim recently helped a Black community consultation group look at systemic racism in Châteauguay. The consultation group heard about instances of racial profiling, allegations of excessive service and increased scrutiny during traffic stops.

While Wilheim is encouraged that Châteauguay has a higher percentage of Indigenous people and people of colour than other municipal police services, she said better representation isn’t enough on its own.

“Then you have to look at retention and better policing practices so people don’t feel like they are being questioned arbitrarily,” she said.

Although police services often lament the difficulty in attracting people of colour, Wilheim said they need to be proactive and remove barriers to inclusion.

“It’s easy to say we have the problem, but maybe [they] should look at some of [their] practices, hiring retention, training programs,” said Wilheim.

In Repentigny, hiring more Black officers needs to be paired with real change from the public administration on down so the Black community feels like it’s being treated fairly, said Thomas.

“It has to come from above,” said Thomas, who is looking for a clear signal from the newly elected mayor and counsellors that it is committed to rebuilding trust between the Black community and the police.

“We need a new approach,” he said. “This is 2021 and society is changing. Everything is changing. We can’t stay stuck in the policing of the 1950s.”

Source: Quebec’s population is changing, but the makeup of the province’s police forces is not, data shows

Why some people say Peel police diversity and inclusion committee isn’t enough to address anti-Black racism

I have sympathy with having an overall diversity and inclusion committee, with sub-committees for specific issues or communities as needed, to ensure better understanding of the both the commonalities and the differences needed to ensure more effective policies and programs. As well, care needs to be taken to ensure a variety of perspectives is heard in such consultations and discussions, including both activists and pragmatists:

Contrary to the wishes of many residents in Mississauga and Brampton to create an anti-Black racism advisory panel, the Peel Police Services Board (PPSB) has decided to move forward with a diversity and inclusion (D&I) committee instead.

Members voted to move ahead with the general organization, which will have a subcommittee dedicated to the Black community, at the October meeting following calls more than six months ago from local activist David Bosveld and others to create the panel.

In his latest deputation at the same meeting, Bosveld said a specific panel is needed because of “the disparate outcomes, interactions, violence, criminalization, over policing and systemic issues of anti-Black racism” experienced and documented in recent reports and findings from the force.

Board members went back and forth on the pros and cons of a general committee or specific panel, with newest member Martin Medeiros listing one con being other racialized communities may also want their own panel.

“Realistically, we can’t have four or five or six or seven boards; technically, it’s not sound,” he said at the meeting, while adding that choosing what groups get to have their own panels is like “picking winners and losers.”

The original recommendation for the D&I committee said the panel wouldn’t fill any gaps due to anti-racism work done across the region.

In August, the board moved to defer their decision on implementing the specific panel, requesting more information on how the D&I committee would operate and overviews of similar operations at other forces.

Executive director Rob Serpe delivered a report two months later that said the committee would “provide its advice and recommendations to the board,” on issues and policies “relating to system racism, equity, diversity and inclusion as well as issues relating to anti-Black racism.”

But as Dr. Tope Adefarakan, an equity, diversity and inclusion expert, explains, a D&I committee (even with a sub-committee), is not nearly enough to address specific issues of anti-Black racism within the realm of policing.

To understand why, the relationship between police and Black communities needs to be looked at historically.

“If you think of the history of policing, it’s about patrols who catch Africans that were enslaved,” she said.

Add to that the many stereotypes and racist tropes applied to Black individuals involving law enforcement, and this leads to a historical legacy impacting one community.

“Black communities are being seen as inherently criminal. That ideology is deeply embedded in policing in and of itself,” said Adefarakan.

She argues those views are uniquely applied to Black communities, saying “criminality or violence don’t get attached to other communities in the same way.”

This can be seen in countless reports on policing, including a recent study in Peel that showed Black individuals were 3.5 times more likely to be met with force from police than any other race.

“Black people are seen as the most threatening, the most dangerous, the most criminal, hence the over representation,” she said.

The report alone should be enough for members to implement the panel, since it echoes the same message Black residents have been talking about for years, said Adefarakan.

A panel would also be able to discuss solutions or make recommendations directly related to the report and work on other areas of policing that aren’t often looked at such as the impact on Black women, children and LGBTQI+ members.

But perhaps most topical is what Adefarakan says are the “beginnings of a shift” among the general public in understanding Black people’s experiences with police, following the murder of George Floyd.

“People in the Black community have been talking about police brutality for a long time,” which has only recently trickled into the greater population, she said.

Anu Radha Verma, who made a deputation at the August board meeting, said creating a general panel completely misunderstands Bosveld’s multiple asks and the “broader demands” from groups and individuals in Peel.

“The case is already made in the data that we need to actually talk about tackling anti-Black racism. One thing that we know, as a non-Black, south Asian person is, when we can address anti-Black racism within our community in Peel, it benefits everyone, and that should be justification enough,” she said.

She also pointed out there are no Black members on the board, and none of the current members have any skills or expertise on addressing anti-Black racism, gaps the specific panel could fill.

Also at the board meeting was Dr. Akwasi Owusu-Bempah, professor at the University of Toronto, who, when asked his opinion on the formation of a general committee, said “when the issues facing Black people are subsumed under diversity, which includes sexual orientation, religion, race and ethnicity, which are different, then those concerns do often get lost.”

Despite these multiple deputations, lengthy discussions and expert opinions, no such panel will be created, with Bosveld saying his request and other concerns from the Black community have been ignored.

“The issues faced by Black communities on policing are very specific and troubling and need to be addressed as such. How that cannot be obvious is beyond me,” he said.

Source: Why some people say Peel police diversity and inclusion committee isn’t enough to address anti-Black racism

Feds find no bias in racial profiling by traffic stop study in Canada

Of note:

There was no evidence of bias found in a federal study on racial profiling by traffic police in Canada.

“Most participants were stopped by police for traffic violations and some were aware of why they were being stopped even before speaking to police,” said the report called National Justice Survey 2021.

“These participants acknowledged they were speeding or committing some other traffic violation such as not coming to a complete stop at a stop sign. A few were pulled over for having expired license plates.”

The poll, which cost $147, 463, was conducted last February and March following coverage of the May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the Black Lives Matter demonstrations that followed.

Ekos Research Associates polled 3,211 people across the country including doing follow-up interviews with Black, Asian or Indigenous drivers.

Of the Black drivers surveyed, all said they were stopped for routine infractions.

One driver suspected it was for speeding while another had his license plates in the front seat of his car.

“Most participants indicated the traffic stop was fairly routine and they did not perceive they were being targeted in any way by being stopped by police,” said the survey.

“Many said the interaction with police was neutral or respectful.

Source: Feds find no bias in racial profiling by traffic stop study in Canada

To tackle hate-motivated crimes, Canada’s justice system needs to change

Of note even if the proposed solutions are modest and unlikely by themselves to make a significant difference although encouraging minorities and others to increase reporting would be a good step:

As Muslim chairs of police boards in Ontario, we are sadly familiar with hate-motivated crimes, and with the reality that no country is immune. Police services across Canada have been grappling with these issues for some time, and we are vividly aware that we cannot look away from the hatred that stole the lives of four fellow Canadians who died simply because they were walking while Muslim.

While the particulars of criminal investigations cannot be released, London Police Services were clear that our beloved community members were murdered and targeted for their Islamic faith. As hard as that is to hear for many Canadians, the truth is this is not a singular event. Islamophobic incidents happen all the time in Canada.

In the City of London and Peel Region, both of which are home to diverse communities with large numbers of racialized citizens, police-reported hate-crime numbers have remained consistent over the last few years. According to Statistics Canada, London’s numbers rose by more than a third from 2015 to 2019, and in four of those five years, the city’s rate per 100,000 population was higher than the national average. In 2019, London police reported that Black, Muslim, Jewish, Middle Eastern and LGBTQ2+ peoples constituted the five most targeted groups for hate crimes. In Peel, meanwhile, crimes motivated by race or nationality increased by 54 per cent from 2018 to 2020, with Black and South Asian people being the most targeted by race or ethnicity. Muslims and Jews experienced the most targeting based on faith.

Yet, despite these numbers, our justice system continues to have an incredibly high threshold for anyone to be prosecuted under hate-related laws, and as a result, it is not achieving its desired aims. There remains no specific definition of a “hate crime” in the Criminal Code as a chargeable offence, and what is laid out only provides a judge the ability to hand down harsher sentences based on his or her ruling around a given perpetrator’s motivations. In Peel, only a third of the Criminal Code offences designated by police as hate- or bias-motivated crimes resulted in Criminal Code charges in 2020.

This outdated model emboldens hateful behavior while doing little to dissuade perpetrators, which in turn normalizes their hate-filled rhetoric and actions. Perpetrators such as Alexandre Bissonnette, for instance, have reaped the benefit of loopholes such as concurrent sentences; Mr. Bissonnette murdered six people in Quebec City in 2017, yet serves time for only one murder. We cannot let this injustice continue in the case of the family killed in London, Ont.

Reporting mechanisms are also a challenge. Far too often, verbal threats and assaults are not brought to the police because victims don’t feel like they’ll be taken seriously, simply don’t want the trouble, or are concerned that their reporting will only further agitate the perpetrators, putting the victims and their families at further risk. This means that any hate-crime numbers are almost certainly underestimated, masking the magnitude of the problem.

Earlier this week, community leaders called for action at the vigil for the family killed on the streets of London, but political gesturing and posturing won’t be enough to help prevent the next hate-fueled mass murder. We must name hate for what it is, stare it down, and work with the affected communities to prioritize change over pandering for votes. All parties must work together to get tougher on hate and extremism. We must end the minimization and denial that has become commonplace in our system and in our discourse. Our politicians and legislators can get the ball rolling by changing hate-crime laws to better protect victims who do report, while holding those responsible maximally accountable.

We must also work with our communities to increase the reporting of such crimes so that we can both identify and engage the perpetrators and provide victims with a sense of safety and support. In addition, our laws must also reflect our society’s values and priorities. If hate crimes are difficult to prosecute and carry minimal odds of conviction, this sends the wrong message.

It’s time to take bolder action against anti-Muslim hate, and all other forms of hate and bigotry that continue to terrorize our communities. It’s time to arm our justice system with the necessary tools to root out hatred, and to hold accountable those who perpetrate hate crimes. It’s time to remind far-right extremists and terrorists that our country will not tolerate their hate-motivated crimes and rhetoric. The human cost of our inaction would be too great to bear.

Javeed Sukhera is the chair of the London Police Services Board and an associate professor of psychiatry and paediatrics at Western University. Ahmad Attia is the chair of the Peel Police Services Board and the CEO of Incisive Strategy.


What role do unions have in addressing systemic racism?

Article tries to do too much by discussing police unions and public servant unions. Issues are quite different and it is a mistake to conflate the two:

Reported cases of abuse and murder of people from visible minority groups at the hands of police forces across Canada persist today. Yet, by and large, Canadian police unions have been opposing or watering down efforts to address discriminatory policing practices and unbridled growth in police funding for years. Since 1999, even during times of budget cuts and cutbacks on social expenditure, there’s been a steady increase in real expenditure on policing over the past three decades, according to Statistics Canada.

Last year, unions across Canada issued statements against racism. In October 2020, the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) exhorted unions to join the fight to defund police. The CLC argues that defunding the police would strengthen long-underfunded social service and public service sectors, as well as help in the fight against racism and violence in policing communities.

Right now, there’s an opportunity to make the goal of defunding the police part of union negotiations and the work of the broader Canadian labour movement – and we should seize it. Before that happens, however, unions must look inward. They should ask themselves: What can we in the labour movement do to address the power of police unions and associations? What steps can we take to address structural racism within institutions across Canada?

Unions and structural racism

In Canada, the wage gap in the highly unionized public sector is smaller than in the mostly non-unionized private sector. According to research published by Canadian professors Gerald Hunt and David Rayside, unions here have been more responsive than their American counterparts on issues of equity. Indeed, they have some of the largest settlements on equity in the country, and the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) is currently supporting a class action lawsuit to address systemic discrimination in the public sector.

That said, data shows that the wage gap between visible minorities and white Canadians in unions persists over generations in Canada. A recent study published in International Migration Review examines the ability of newly arrived non-white immigrants to access union jobs and the impact of unionization on their earnings. The study’s findings are disturbing because not only do non-white immigrants have less access to union jobs, the positive impact of unionization on earnings is somewhat lower for new non-white immigrants than for new white immigrants. The study concludes that unionization does not contribute to reducing the earnings gap of new non-white immigrants relative to white immigrants and native-born Canadians of any background. We need to expand this kind of research to other marginalized and visible minority communities, such as First Nations, and then work on addressing the aforementioned gaps.

A more difficult problem to address is how we root out the structural injustices that are now normalized in collective bargaining agreements, grievance-handling and other union processes. The wage gap between unionized visible minority members and unionized white male members is much smaller than the gap between all visible minority workers and white workers – but it still exists. There are also other issues, such as access to what are considered better positions for members with more seniority, who tend to bedisproportionately white, as well as the preponderance of visible minorities in precarious work that’s sometimes contracted out by public sector employers.

In the United Kingdom, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) launched an anti-racist task force,  which has done work that’s worth emulating in Canada. TUC is compiling decades of research conducted by U.K.-based unions, as well as researchers and analysts, to promote more effective anti-racism work within these unions. It’s also been surveying union membersto ask about discrimination at work, looking at structural racism in union practices and perception, as well as why sometimes cases go unreported. Now that London has declared its city hall to be an anti-racist organization, TUC will leverage its work to develop policies and make this declaration a reality.

As policy-makers, the most difficult question for any union to answer is what to do when marginalized communities report that members are complicit in practices that are racist. When it comes to complaints about individual members, unions have a duty to represent those individuals during the grievance process, but as Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) points out, that doesn’t mean the union must represent the individual over the needs of the collective or those of marginalized communities. Union-bargaining agents and stewards must be reminded of this when they defend reprehensible behaviour.

Carceral unions and the labour movement

Since police and corrections officers first sought recognition as bargaining agents, they faced widespread opposition from different stakeholders. Many governments and businesses felt that police forces, which are an essential service to maintain law and order, shouldn’t be allowed to organize and withhold their labour to demand improvements to their work conditions.

Meanwhile, social justice and workers’ rights activists who faced repression and violence from police organized to keep them out of labour federations (for the most part, police associations and unions aren’t affiliated with the Canadian Labour Congress, except in the few cases where police forces chose to be represented by larger public sector unions).

An important aspect of demanding justice for visible minorities is demanding justice in policing. How do we influence the actions of police unions and their members? How do we stop them from obstructing efforts to change discriminatory police practices and create oversight? Is there any way they can become partners in the effort to defund police?

Currently, there are movements in Canada to demand the expulsion of police and correctional officers from unions affiliated with the larger labour federations, such as PSAC and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). But this gesture, if made, would be largely symbolic because the lion’s share of police unions aren’t part of Canada’s labour federations.  Indeed, many call themselves associations and bargain outside of the labour movement. If expelled, the correctional officers and police in unions affiliated with the labour federations could easily form powerful independent bodies or join the majority non-affiliated police associations. Currently, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) is facing a campaign by its member correctional officers to disaffiliate and create an independent corrections-only association.

As Ryan Hayes points out in Briarpatch Magazine, “In the United States, along with the call to expel police unions from the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), policy analysts have made the case for barring police associations from the right to collectively bargain. Others have called for limiting the scope of their bargaining to strictly wages and benefits.” But how will restricting the power of police officers to organize prevent the prison industrial complex from growing and further influencing policy, and disproportionately imprisoning racialized people? The right to bargain collectively is a universal right, not limited by ideology, so won’t attempts to curtail it set a dangerous precedent?

There are many union members who have been leading and coming out in support of movements against racism. However, many join as volunteers without bringing their local union or the larger labour movement along. In 2020, deaths at the hands of police in Canada and the United States made the call for defunding the police more urgent. The fact that the Canadian Labour Congress has issued a statement saying that unions should join the fight to defund the police is an opportunity. This statement is an opening for us, the progressive union members, the majority of whom work in the public sector, to bring the force of our locals and our unions to the fight against police violence.

If defunding police is officially adopted as a part of a union’s work, unions could bring staff resources, relationships with politicians and their staff, intimate knowledge of how to lobby and move different political bureaucracies to the movement. If the movement for racial justice successfully defunds police, it would grow long underfunded social service and public service sectors and budgets again, which makes economic sense for our locals and unions.

Successfully dismantling structural racism in police unions and in our work as unions more broadly will take sustained effort. Last year, many Canadian unions made important statements and launched renewed efforts toward these goals, but we must be willing to commit to making them a reality.

Source: What role do unions have in addressing systemic racism?