The RCMP’s atrocious response to racism in Alberta

Good commentary by Gary Mason:

A couple weeks ago, a group marching under the banner of the Black and Indigenous Alliance Alberta organized a demonstration in Ponoka, Alta. But it didn’t go so well: People drove by and called the protesters names, accusing them of belonging to “antifa.” Some reportedly told them to go back to where they came from. And then, the group alleges that a truck intentionally swerved into them, striking a protester. He was taken to hospital with an injury to his eye and later released.

When they reported the alleged hit-and-run, an RCMP spokesperson said that police didn’t have the video footage needed to investigate.

A few days later, on Sept. 14, alliance members, including the man who was allegedly struck by the truck, held a news conference at the RCMP detachment to alert media to what happened. As they tried to begin, a small group of counterprotesters began shouting the alliance members down. One of the men brought a megaphone to drown out anything the group was saying to reporters. They also hurled vicious epithets at the alliance members who were there.

It was an ugly scene. But it got uglier.

Rachelle Elsiufi, a reporter with CityNews Edmonton, asked the head of the Ponoka detachment, Sergeant Chris Smiley, why nothing was done to deter those who arrived to disrupt the news conference. “Are you suggesting one side’s voice is more important than the others? Because it’s not,” he replied.“So we let everybody say what they need to say as peacefully as they can and that’s how this country works.” According to Ms. Elsiufi, two men “with connections to hate groups in Alberta” were standing beside her, and “celebrated” the officer’s response.

But as disconcerting as that moment was, things would get even worse.

The following weekend, the alliance decided to hold a demonstration in a park in Red Deer, Alta. Soon after they arrived to begin their rally, so did a convoy of trucks carrying a group of men that appeared to be looking for trouble. Again, many were identified by reporters as wearing the symbols of hate groups such as the Soldiers of Odin.

It didn’t take long for things to turn violent. The men walked up to the alliance demonstrators, many of whom were people of colour, and screamed into their faces, telling them to go home. Video from the scene shows a couple of clear assaults on alliance demonstrators, one of whom was punched in the face. Footage later shows three RCMP officers standing off to the side monitoring the situation.

Initially, the RCMP said there would be no investigation into what happened at the park. When video from the scene went viral on social media, the RCMP changed its tune, saying it would open a criminal investigation into two alleged assaults. The police defended their initial decision, saying the violence happened before their officers had arrived.

It sure looks like the RCMP has a problem here. The fact that people with racist ties can disrupt a peaceful news conference and be defended by police is outrageous. No one’s voice is more important than another’s? Are you kidding me? When one of those voices is that of a bigot and white supremacist, it is not as important as someone peacefully advocating against racism.

Alberta Justice Minister Kaycee Madu, who is Black, seemed genuinely upset by what happened in Red Deer. But I don’t think it’s enough to simply say it’s “unacceptable” and that it should never happen. He needs to have a conversation with senior officials in the RCMP about the type of people it has representing the force in the province and whether or not they are part of the problem here.

It sure sounds like they are.

It shouldn’t take long for the RCMP to lay criminal charges in the Red Deer incident. The people responsible for the assaults are clearly visible in the footage. But beyond that, the RCMP has to do a far better job of ensuring the safety of people who are demonstrating for a cause that police know will upset some who will then come looking for trouble.

The idea of a convoy of trucks arriving and disgorging a group of angry white men with menace in their eyes brings back terrifying images of the American South in the 1950s.

I realize police have a difficult job. But trust in the RCMP is undermined when some among them exhibit behaviour that makes us question whose side they’re on.

PM’s ‘Tiger Team’ meant to address diversity, inclusion in Canada’s national intelligence and security community hasn’t met since 2018

Of note. Yet another initiative without apparent follow-up.

Although somewhat dated, this overall picture is unlikely to have changed significantly (in process of requesting updated reports for the CF (non-civilian), RCMP (non-civilian), CSIS and CSE as not covered in the TBS report):


The federal government still has “much work to be done” on addressing diversity and inclusion issues within its intelligence and security apparatus, according to a recent parliamentary committee report, with one leading intelligence expert suggesting more senior leadership within the Privy Council Office with “power and clout” is needed to oversee the problem—and questioning why Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s launch of the “Tiger Team” in 2017 meant to address diversity and inclusion issues hasn’t met since July 2018.

In their lengthy 2019 annual report, which was tabled in Parliament only a few days before the nation-wide COVID-19 lockdown began in March, the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians, composed of 11 MPs and Senators and chaired by Liberal MP David McGuinty (Ottawa South, Ont.), focused considerable attention on the issue of diversity and inclusion in the security and intelligence community.

The review was conducted for several reasons, according to the report, most importantly because “challenges to increasing diversity and inclusion persist in the security and intelligence community even after decades of legislation, multiple reports and repeated calls for change.”

“These issues are particularly important for organizations responsible for protecting the national security of Canada and the rights and freedoms of Canadians.”

The report also notes that the “Tiger Team” established in 2017, created “with the stated aim of ‘exploring, advancing and implementing joint efforts to learn from one another and share best practices to enhance diversity and inclusion within and across [their] organizations through a variety of activities and initiatives,’” has not met since July 2018.

In January 2017, The leaders of the Canadian Armed Forces, the Canadian Coast Guard, Canadian Border Services Agency, CSIS, Canadian Security Establishment, Department of National Defense and the RCMP established the Tiger Team.

National security expert Wesley Wark, a professor at the University of Ottawa, told The Hill Times that the initiative to create a Tiger Team was a product of a push by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (Papineau, Que.) in late 2016, and ultimately resulted from a meeting Mr. Trudeau requested with the heads of agencies in the security and intelligence community as well as with the Privy Council Office.

“Sadly, the tigers seem ultimately to have gone to sleep,” according to Prof. Wark’s April 2020 working paper addressing the NSICOP’s findings. “It is time, perhaps, for the prime minister to crack the whip again.”

“This kind of Tiger Team concept moved into the lane of deliverology, in the sense that it was overseen by the deputy secretary to the cabinet, but I’m not sure that was the original idea—that’s just where it ended up in terms of maintaining some momentum and producing reports for a period of time,” according to Prof. Wark.

When it comes to the specifics of diversity and inclusion in the security and intelligence community, it was “probably a mistake to move it into that lane or allow it to be moved into that lane,” said Prof. Wark.

“If an initiative of this kind was going to be sustained and picked up by all the different elements of the security and intelligence community, it needed to be overseen by senior leadership in the PCO [outside] of the deliverology mechanism,” said Prof. Wark. “In other words, it should have been taken up as a priority by the national and security and intelligence advisor, and it’s that senior officer in PCO who would have the power and clout to really make sure that something significant happened in this way.”

“I don’t understand why the national security and intelligence adviser himself did not take this up, and the committee of parliamentarians notes that although it doesn’t attach any explicit criticism to this, the whole Tiger Team effort obviously just faded away all together after a period of time,” said Prof. Wark.

The deputy secretary to the cabinet resides within the PCO, underneath the Clerk, and the national security and intelligence advisor is a very senior deputy minister position that ranks almost as an equivalent position to the clerk of the Privy Council, according to Prof. Wark.

According to PCO spokesperson Pierre-Alain Bujold, the work of the Tiger Team is ongoing, and currently chaired by the Department of National Defense (DND).

“The Government of Canada appreciates the work undertaken by [NSICOP],” according to Mr. Bujold, [and] sees diversity and inclusion as an important means to making its national security and intelligence community even more effective in protecting Canadians,” according to Mr. Bujold in an emailed statement to The Hill Times.

“We have been working for a number of years to improve diversity and inclusion in the security and intelligence community. This is critical, not just in terms of better representing Canadian communities, but in making security and intelligence agencies more effective at doing their job.”

‘Diversity is particularly important inside security and intelligence organizations’

Mr. McGuinty, the committee’s chair, was not available for an interview, but in an emailed statement to The Hill Times, the executive director of the committee, Rennie Marcoux, wrote that although the report did not make any findings or recommendations as to the national security and intelligence adviser’s role within the Tiger Team, the committee recognizes the merit of the community approach to address diversity and inclusion issues—and that its recommendations reinforce the value of the coordinated effort.

“The security and intelligence community is best placed to determine which individual or office is best suited to lead or direct this work,” according to Ms. Marcoux.

In its conclusions, the report notes that “building diverse and inclusive workforces is essential to the effectiveness of the security and intelligence community.”

When asked to expand, Ms. Marcoux noted that in addition to the “well-documented” benefits of a diverse workplace and inclusive workforce across a large body of research, as well as the committee’s belief that Canada’s public service should reflect the population it serves, “a more diverse workforce ensures that organizations are benefitting from the broad range of perspectives and talent that Canada has to offer.”

“Finally, the committee notes that diversity is particularly important inside security and intelligence organizations because it allows them to leverage language skills, community contacts and cultural competencies, and protects against groupthink mindsets that permeate more homogeneous organizations,” according to Ms. Marcoux.

Tim McSorley, national coordinator with the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group, told The Hill Times that “there needs to be a level of accountability and transparency in terms of what the words on paper mean.”

“I think a big question is that we see, year-after-year, whether it’s three-year plans or five-year plans or in line with Treasury Board recommendations, it seems like there’s a plan and then the next plan seems to repeat very similar issues around the importance of lowering barriers [around] increasing diversity and inclusion within these organizations,” said Mr. McSorley. “While it does seem that the numbers have gotten slightly better over the last 10 or 11 years, it doesn’t seem like anything new is coming out, it seems that it remains the same question each time a new plan is put together.”

“So what are they doing on the ground to actually change and to increase diversity and inclusion in the security and intelligence community,” said Mr. McSorley. “Who is accountable if they don’t meet those goals, and what kind of consequences are there?”

When asked about the Tiger Team, Mr. McSorley said that looking at some of the critiques within the report, the fact that it was concentrated solely of members from HR departments was part of the problem.

According to the report, the committee noted several shortcomings with this initiative, including the lack of specific objectives for diversity and inclusion as well as the development of a performance measurement framework to assess the success of its initiatives.

“The representatives from each organization were all from human resources departments and organizations did not seek out members of employment equity groups for membership or participation on the Tiger Team,” according to the report. “[Throughout] its discussions, the Tiger Team focused on short-term initiatives without considering systemic challenges raised in various organization-specific studies or class-action lawsuits (the CAF and the RCMP), such as workplace culture and discrimination.”

‘Things won’t change on their own’

The Abella Commission, which led to the creation of the Employment Equity Act, unfolded in 1984, said Noa Mendelsohn Aviv, director of the equality program at the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

“The first Employment Equity Act was in 1986. The current [act] is 25 years old, and that act calls for serious accountability measures, serious long-term and short-term goal setting, serious monitoring and reviews for organization accountability,” said Ms. Aviv.

“So we always need to be optimistic and hopeful and try to move things forward, but we’ve also been working on these issues for a very long time,” said Ms. Aviv. “There are clear obligations there, obligations that, according to this report, have simply not been met.”

Ms. Aviv said she believes that there is a notion that things are getting better, they get better on their own, and that patience is required to change organizational culture.

“But if you actually look at the trajectory and the amount of time that’s passed, and the amount of harm that’s been done to people in these organizations, and the ill-effect it’s having on the effectiveness of the organizations themselves, then you understand that things won’t change on their own,” said Ms. Aviv.

According to RCMP spokesperson Catherine Fortin, the RCMP has implemented a number of initiatives to increase the ratio of women, visible minorities, and Indigenous people within their ranks, with objectives to include 30 per cent women, 20 per cent of people from visible minority groups, and 10 per cent Indigenous people.

“We intend to reach these goals through a targeted approach to recruiting, using advertising and marketing to position the RCMP as the employer of choice to people who may not have considered a career in policing,” according to Ms. Fortin. “The RCMP is committed to inclusiveness and diversity of all types within the organization. We believe that the more diverse we are when it comes to gender, ethnic background, religion or sexual orientation, the better we are able to serve all Canadians.”

According to DND spokesperson Major T.A. Smyth, “DND and the CAF place unprecedented emphasis on ensuring diversity and gender equality in military human resource management as part of efforts to strengthen the operational force and to position DND and the CAF as inclusive organizations. Diversity is viewed as a source of strength and flexibility to build the capacity of the CAF and the civilian workforce.”

“DND and the CAF are working with other government departments as a community and considering the findings and recommendations of this report to inform future decision making,” according to Mr. Smyth. “Various experiences, knowledge, and skillsets contribute to our operational effectiveness. By increasing the representativeness of our Forces and our civilian personnel to reflect Canadian society, diversity enables DND and CAF to be forward-looking, resilient, and relevant.”

—-

The National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians made the following recommendations in it’s 2019 Annual Report, released in March 2020:

1. The committee conduct a retrospective review in three to five years to assess the security and intelligence community’s progress in achieving and implementing its diversity goals and inclusion initiatives.

2. The security and intelligence community adopt a consistent and transparent approach to planning and monitoring of employment equity and diversity goals, and conduct regular reviews of their employment policies and practices.

3. The security and intelligence community improve the robustness of its data collection and analysis, including GBA+ assessments of internal staffing and promotion policies and clustering analyses of the workforce.

4. The security and intelligence community develop a common performance measurement framework, and strengthen accountability for diversity and inclusion through meaningful and measurable performance indicators for executives and managers across all organizations.

Source: PM’s ‘Tiger Team’ meant to address diversity, inclusion in Canada’s national intelligence and security community hasn’t met since 2018

RCMP failing to diversify its workforce, new statistics show


Nothing new here as the RCMP (along with the Canadian Forces) has long struggled to improve representation of visible minorities and women (need to update above chart but doubt that overall picture has changed much):

A drive to make the RCMP’s workforce more diverse stalled last year as the Mounties struggled to become fully representative of the communities they police, newly available statistics show.

The national police force’s report on employment equity for 2018-19 says the diversity of the RCMP’s overall workforce had “not changed by any significant measure” from the previous year.

The proportion of women, visible minorities and people with disabilities also remained lower than the rates found in the general Canadian workforce, while the proportion of Indigenous employees was a notable exception.

“Diversity has traditionally been a challenge for police forces in Canada, and the RCMP is no exception,” says the report, recently tabled in Parliament.

The killing of George Floyd, a Black man, by police in Minnesota has set off a global wave of calls for law-enforcement agencies to fundamentally address entrenched racism and the oppression of minorities.

RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki has acknowledged her police force can improve. But she initially stopped short of endorsing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s assessment that the force, like all Canadian institutions, exhibits systemic racism.

On Friday, Lucki expressed regret for not doing so.

“During some recent interviews, I shared that I struggled with the definition of systemic racism, while trying to highlight the great work done by the overwhelming majority of our employees,” she said in a statement.

“I did acknowledge that we, like others, have racism in our organization, but I did not say definitively that systemic racism exists in the RCMP. I should have.

“As many have said, I do know that systemic racism is part of every institution, the RCMP included. Throughout our history and today, we have not always treated racialized and Indigenous people fairly.”

Trudeau said Friday that Lucki had already made strides within the RCMP but added that more needs to be done quickly across the country to ensure police officers, including Mounties, can better serve Canadians.

“There are some deep changes we need to make in our institutions, and we need to work with people who want to make those changes, who want to be part of the solution — and I know Commissioner Lucki is one of those,” Trudeau said.

The report says that on April 1, 2019, representation rates among regular RCMP members, as opposed to civilian employees, were 21.8 per cent for women, 11.5 per cent for visible minorities, 7.5 per cent for Indigenous people and 1.6 per cent for people with disabilities.

The numbers are fairly consistent with 2018 data for all police forces in Canada, the report notes.

“These results are not reflective of modern trends being observed in the Canadian population, and signal that a ‘one size fits all’ approach to attracting, selecting, developing and retaining diverse employees is not the most effective way of achieving diversity in the workforce,” the report says.

“The RCMP must continue to strive to increase the diversity of its workforce by removing barriers which inhibit attracting new employees who will bring a greater diversity of identities, backgrounds, experiences and expertise.”

Asked for comment on the report, the RCMP said that while year-over-year changes in diversity statistics will vary, the proportion of visible minorities among police officers has been increasing steadily for decades.

The RCMP’s modernization plan, spearheaded by Lucki, has identified a more representative employee base as critical to the force’s future.

“Delivering culturally relevant community policing solutions requires an in-depth understanding of the challenges people experience while accessing justice,” the equity report says.

“Making progress in this area requires meaningful dialogue with community leaders, enabled by a diverse workforce able to overcome differences and capable of building lasting relationships.”

The RCMP has tried to address employment-equity shortcomings through initiatives including an internal advisory council, fostering a better understanding of Indigenous traditions, and making the force’s uniform and grooming requirements more sensitive to the needs of different faith groups.

The force says it is also trying to attract candidates from different backgrounds through career fairs and a review of its application process to remove possible barriers. It has also developed a strategy to increase diversity at the executive levels in response to a recent audit.

Understanding common barriers such as privilege, bias, harassment and the glass ceiling is not difficult, the report says.

“Oftentimes, the real challenge is acknowledging that equity and inclusion-related issues must be addressed. This may mean accepting different approaches to conducting operations, which can lead to short- and long-term success.”

The report recommends a focus on identifying the “success factors” that contribute to a Mountie’s advancement to the highest officer ranks.

Reaching the executive level requires access to the right opportunities, networks and training, endorsement from other senior leaders, language skills and a balance between personal obligations and the increased demands of executive leadership, it says.

However, members of the underrepresented groups “are likely to face additional challenges” in this respect.

These factors point to a need to identify leadership potential early, so the organization is well-positioned to help promising members advance, the report says.

Source:  RCMP failing to diversify its workforce, new statistics show

As he readies for new role, 1st Mountie to wear turban reflects on RCMP career

Thoughtful reflections of a trailblazer:

Baltej Dhillon has kept a scrapbook during his nearly three-decade career with the RCMP.

There are photos of him standing proudly in the red serge in the early 1990s, the iconic Stetson hat replaced by a tan turban. There are newspaper clippings — both positive and negative. And there’s a schoolyard poem, filled with nearly every ignorant stereotype about Sikhs one could imagine.

“I’ll dress up in my coat of red / And wear my laundry on my head,” part of the poem reads. “It’s much better, they’ll decide / If we ride camels in the musical ride.”

It was written by a child and shared around the schoolyard, but it’s a dark reminder of some of the attitudes the trailblazing officer has faced over the years.

This week, Dhillon, 53, retired from the RCMP after a career that saw him rise to the rank of inspector, as he took part in high-profile cases, including the investigations into serial killer Robert Pickton and the Air India bombing.

“When I first got involved in the Air India task force, I wasn’t trusted. I wasn’t included in some of the meetings,” said Dhillon. “I was told that it was because there was concern that I might compromise the file.”

That mistrust is something Dhillon experienced before he ever donned the red tunic.

Born in Malaysia, a teenage Dhillion and his family moved to British Columbia in 1983. After high school, he studied criminology and initially wanted to be a lawyer. But he sought to become a Mountie after volunteering with the RCMP as a translator for Asian immigrants.

Dhillon formally applied to the force in 1988 and passed all the entrance requirements. But at the time, the RCMP dress code banned both turbans and beards — key components of his Sikh faith.

A CBC News story from 1989 shows a spandex-clad Dhillon exercising, as he waits for the regulations to change, allowing him to serve with a uniform that doesn’t clash with his religion.

A petition calling for the exclusion of turbans in the RCMP circulated at the time, with thousands of signatures. A Calgary businessman had pins made that clearly express opposition to turbaned Mounties.

In 1989, Baltej Dhillon, 23, had passed the tests required to begin training as an RCMP officer, but his refusal to stop wearing a turban, an article of faith for Sikh men, kept him on the sidelines. 1:54

But the young prospect had supporters, including mentors and the RCMP commissioner, and the regulations were ultimately changed to allow Mounties to serve with a beard and turban.

“The RCMP commissioner came face to face with the Charter of Rights [and Freedoms] in Canada, which clearly states that one cannot be discriminated for practising their faith,” said Dhillon.

When he went for training in Regina, Dhillon said other members of his troop were cordial. But the first time he entered the mess hall, the room fell completely silent.

“When I walked in, there were 1,200 eyes looking at me … it was very intimidating,” he recalled.

The young constable’s first assignment was in Quesnel, B.C., where he was greeted with a large plywood sign that said, “Welcome to Quesnel, Turbocop.” Dhillon decided to assume it was a welcoming message.

But he soon learned that his partner had told other officers that he wouldn’t back Dhillon up, because he was wearing a turban.

“All you’ve got is your partner, and if your partner’s saying, ‘I’m not backing you up,’ well, there goes your lifeline,” said Dhillon, adding that his staff sergeant soon took care of the situation.

For seven years, Dhillon was the only Mountie to wear a turban, until another Sikh man was posted in Burnaby, B.C., in the late 1990s.

“It was incredible … I certainly picked up the phone right away and shared with him my excitement and glee of seeing him in the ranks,” he said.

While Dhillon is leaving the RCMP, he’s not leaving law enforcement. He’s beginning a new role with the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of British Columbia, an integrated police agency focused on gang activity.

As he looks back on his career as a Mountie, Dhillon chooses to focus on the service he provided for the communities where he worked — not the death threats he received in the mail from across the country.

Diversity is now more visible in the RCMP and, according to Dhillon, the racism isn’t as prevalent — either inside the force or in the broader community. But it certainly hasn’t disappeared.

“Racism exists in our country,” Dhillon said. “It takes a toll on all of us.… It takes energy away from being better Canadians, being better citizens, being better neighbours and working toward something more for our children and our future.”

Source: As he readies for new role, 1st Mountie to wear turban reflects on RCMP career

Irregular asylum claims in Canada drop nearly 50% from last year

Ironic, given the government’s plan to close the STCA loophole for those entering Canada outside regular border posts. And of course, still too early to see if this trend continues for the balance of the year:

The number of asylum-seekers crossing the border “irregularly” into Canada has slowed compared to early last year.

Statistics published by the federal government show the RCMP apprehended 3,944 irregular migrants between official border crossings in the first third of this year.

That’s a 48-per-cent decline compared to the more than 7,600 irregular border crossers intercepted between January and April 2018.

Despite this, Darrell Bricker of the polling firm Ipsos Public Affairs says data shows Canadians are increasingly concerned over immigration levels in Canada, due in large part to the influx of irregular migrants.

He and other experts who took part in an immigration summit in Ottawa last week are warning against rising populist sentiments that could harden Canadian attitudes against newcomers.

Fen Hampson, executive director of the World Refugee Council, says a key concern is that the public doesn’t differentiate between refugees and economic immigrants — and that Canadians may not realize Canada’s refugee influx is nothing compared to the migrant crises facing other countries.

Source: Irregular asylum claims in Canada drop nearly 50% from last year

Black RCMP officers say they endured racism ‘on a regular basis’

Not a new issue:

Current and former black RCMP officers say they’ve regularly endured racist treatment from their colleagues and are calling for Canada’s national police force to improve its treatment of visible minorities.

Alain Babineau, who retired from the RCMP in 2016 after a 27-year career and now lives in Ottawa, told Radio-Canada one of his bosses nicknamed him “black man,” and that racial slurs were common.

“The word n–ger was used on a regular basis,” he said.

One example he shared occurred in Quebec City in 2008 at the Sommet de la francophonie, a meeting of representatives from French-speaking nations.

“There were a lot of African countries visiting Quebec City, and a group of RCMP members were talking about their VIPs from Africa and using the N-word and making jokes and so on,” he said.

“I told them, ‘First of all, I’m extremely offended by what you’re saying. And, number two, these are our clients.

“Of course [they said], ‘We’re just joking around’ … their jokes are not always the funniest.”

‘I had so much pride for the RCMP’

Radio-Canada spoke to other black RCMP officers, including two who agreed to speak anonymously because they fear reprisals from their employer.

CBC and Radio-Canada have agreed not to name them or say where they work.

“Over the years, members have called me ‘black bastard,’ ‘uneducated black man’ and again recently ‘n–ger,'” one officer said.

He added that after working in several communities across Canada for over 15 years, he’s tired of the racist treatment.

“I had so much pride for the RCMP,” he said. “Now, if someone asks me what I do, I say I work for the government.”

The other officer said he wished his colleagues would stand up to defend him, but the RCMP workplace culture is not friendly to people who complain about racism.

“I heard the word ‘n–ger’ more often in the RCMP than in the general public,” the officer said.

While CBC and Radio-Canada have chosen not to disclose the details of these incidents to protect the officers’ identities, the events have been corroborated with documents and witnesses have confirmed what happened.

Other officers who had agreed to talk to Radio-Canada changed their minds at the last minute.

Allegations ‘deeply troubling,’ RCMP says

In a statement to Radio-Canada, the RCMP called the allegations of racism “deeply troubling” and said all forms of discrimination will not be tolerated.

Both the RCMP and Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said they’re taking steps to address the situation.

The police force said it routinely uses what’s known as “gender-based analysis plus,” or GBA+, to “assess how men, women and gender-diverse people experience policies, programs and initiatives.”

“The ‘plus’ in GBA+ acknowledges that this analysis goes beyond biological sex and gender differences and also examines the impact of other identity factors such as race, ethnicity, religion, age and mental or physical disabilities,” the RCMP said.

Watchdog board created

Goodale’s office brought up a new interim civilian watchdog board his government created for the RCMP to help rid it of bullying and harassment.

Its members will be named by April 1, and Goodale’s office said it’s aiming “to appoint members who represent the diversity of Canadians.”

The officers who spoke to Radio-Canada want the RCMP to do an in-depth study of visible minorities in the RCMP, citing a recent Ottawa police diversity audit as one example of something the RCMP could adapt.

The RCMP declined to comment on whether it would take a similar step.

In 2015, the RCMP’s then commissioner admitted there were racists in the force.

“I understand that there are racists in my police force. I don’t want them to be in my police force,” Bob Paulson told a group of First Nations leaders.

Visible minorities underrepresented in RCMP

Babineau now works as a volunteer adviser for the Montreal-based Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations.

He said, while he believes individual acts of direct racism have decreased in the RCMP over the years, systemic racism is still a problem.

Visible minorities, excluding Indigenous people, make up 22 per cent of Canada’s general population, according to the 2016 census — but only 11 per cent of the RCMP’s workforce as of 2018.

In this sense, the RCMP is more representative than the typical Canadian police force. In 2016, the most recent year this national data was available, eight per cent of all Canadian police officers were visible minorities.

However, while there are now more women and visible minorities in the RCMP’s leadership, visible minorities remain absent from the three highest ranks.

“There are now many women in the highest ranks of the RCMP. That’s a good thing,” Babineau said. “The same thing should be happening for racialized people.”

Source: Black RCMP officers say they endured racism ‘on a regular basis’

RCMP questionnaire for asylum seekers targeted Muslims, asking them about head coverings, terrorist groups

Kellie Leitch’s value testing in action:

The emergence of an RCMP questionnaire targeting Muslim asylum seekers in Quebec sparked criticism Thursday that the Liberal government mismanaged last summer’s massive flow of migrants from the United States.

The questionnaire was used at the Quebec border crossing that saw an influx of thousands of asylum seekers from the U.S., many of them of Haitian descent who were concerned about the Trump administration’s decision to cancel a program that allowed them to stay in the country.

Among other things, the questionnaire asked opinions about religious practice, head coverings associated with Muslim women and terrorist groups with mainly Muslim members.

Toronto immigration lawyer Clifford McCarten said he obtained a copy of the document from a client seeking refugee status, who had been given the three-page, 41-question document by mistake.

“He was shocked by the questions,” said McCarten, who provided a copy to The Canadian Press.

The man was originally from a Muslim country, he added.

“Canada is a very liberal country that believes in freedom of religious practice and equality between men and women. What is your opinion of this subject? How would you feel if your boss was a woman? How do you feel about women who do not wear the hijab?” says the questionnaire, which also asked the same question about other head and body coverings, including the dupatta, niqab, chador and burka.

A spokesman for Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said the government found out on Tuesday about the existence of the questionnaire from a “stakeholder” who takes an interest in the work of the department.

Public Safety Spokesman Scott Bardsley said the department was immediately concerned and the document is no longer being used by the RCMP.

“Some of the questions were inappropriate and inconsistent with government policy,” Bardsley said in an emailed statement.

Bardsley said the document was only used “locally,” but would not say whether there would be repercussions for any of the Mounties involved in its creation.

He referred those questions to the RCMP, but a spokeswoman said Thursday the Mounties would not be granting interviews on the topic. In a written statement, the RCMP said the “interview guide” was used by its Quebec C Division and “has been revised to better evaluate individuals coming into the country whose origin is unknown, while being respectful of their situations.”

McCarten said the existence of the document raises questions about the federal government’s competence in managing the sudden surge of arrivals from the U.S.

“If, in fact, this was a local detachment making this decision — which I find a bit hard to believe — then it’s deeply concerning that one of the most, if not the most problematic crisis spot in Canadian immigration and refugee policy right now . . . doesn’t have a federal strategy for how screening is happening.”

The New Democrats said the government needed to show more leadership in dealing with the influx of asylum seekers.

“Canadians need to be assured that security measures are in place, but this looks more like religious profiling,” Matthew Dube, the NDP public safety critic said in a statement.

“Either the minister was aware this was taking place and did nothing or he doesn’t have a handle on what practices are being used.”

Jenny Kwan, the NDP immigration critic, said the government needs to provide more answers on how the questionnaire was used.

“The number of times someone prays should have no bearing on their refugee status. That is not who we are,” she said.

Other questions asked the applicants to specify their religion and “how often” they practice their religion.

McCarten said the RCMP needs to conduct security screening, but the questions being asked don’t cover all potential threats to Canada.

“It appears to instruct RCMP officers to be asking questions to the exclusion of other types of concerns, specifically the right-wing, white supremacist violence happening in the U.S. and that we have a history of in Canada,” he said.

“It asks questions that are discriminatory, that reflect a kind of institutional bias and an institutional ignorance of the RCMP of the nature of risk.”

He said asking a Muslim their opinion of head coverings is “absurd” and akin to “asking a Jewish person what their opinions are about men who don’t wear the yarmulke.”

McCarten said the document reflects on the RCMP as a whole, and shows “a kind of Islamaphobic bias that is animating how it does its business.”

Source: RCMP questionnaire for asylum seekers targeted Muslims, asking them about head coverings, terrorist groups | National Post

Someone should take the fall for Ottawa’s botched Phoenix pay system

Hard to disagree with Barrie McKenna: the lack of accountability at both the political and bureaucratic level, the inability of government to manage large-scale IT projects and the miss match between those who “sold” the project and those responsible for delivery are of broad concern, not just in the case of Phoenix.

IT in government is complex given the myriad of requirements and groups involved.

My experience with IT in government is a mixed bag. My most successful project, done with a small group of PCO policy types, was the creation of an Access database to manage the then Chrétien government annual priority setting exercise. Delivered on time, it worked  and ensured consistent tracking rather than the previous time-consuming and error prone Word-based process.

My second experience, also at PCO, but on a larger scale (more data, more users) and thus involving IT folks, was replacing the previous Cabinet meeting planning system with a more up-to-date platform with more flexibility. The IT folks and the consultant never got it to work during my time there.

Lastly, at Service Canada, we partnered with Service New Brunswick to deliver, on Transport Canada’s behalf, a system for pleasure craft licensing. When it went live, it crashed but we were able to identify and fix the problem within a few days (the data link capacity was too small, something missed in all the preparations, by all involved). After that it worked well (Service Canada eventually decided to end its involvement and focus on core services to ESDC):

The mess that is Phoenix is a story of misguided political objectives, bungled management of a major technology project and a complete failure by anyone in charge to take responsibility for mistakes.

The fiasco raises troubling questions about the government’s ability to perform one of its most basic functions – paying its bills and taking care of employees. The Phoenix system is just one of the major information-technology projects, totalling billions of dollars, now under way in the government.

Centralizing the multitude of separate payroll systems was the brainchild of Stephen Harper’s Conservative government, which was convinced it could wring huge savings out of the bureaucracy. In charge were then-public works minister Rona Ambrose (now interim Conservative leader) and Tony Clement, former president of the treasury board. Neither has expressed any remorse for the fiasco.

The Conservatives eliminated 700 payroll jobs in dozens of departments, mainly in Ottawa, and created a new centralized pay centre in Miramichi, N.B. – political compensation for the shuttered gun registry. Most of those offered positions there refused to move, leaving the running of Phoenix in the hands of hundreds of untrained new hires.

The problem now belongs to the Liberal government, which could have delayed deployment of the system to work out the inevitable bugs. To his credit, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has acknowledged his government initially didn’t take the problem seriously.

“I’ll admit it,” Mr. Trudeau told a frustrated civil servant at a town hall in Kingston, Ont., earlier this year. “This government … didn’t pay enough attention to the challenges and the warning signs on the transition we were overseeing.”

But the mea culpa came three months after the government had promised to resolve the payroll mess. Now, it’s not even offering a target.

Just as troubling is the lack of accountability within the upper ranks of civil servants. Many of those responsible have retired or moved to other jobs in the government. No one has been fired.

Nor has there been a thorough investigation by Parliament of what went wrong. Deputy Minister of Public Works Marie Lemay, who inherited the payroll problem, appeared before the House of Commons government operations committee last year. But none of the original architects of the system have had to answer for their roles.

And then there is IBM Canada, which Ottawa hired to design and implement the system. It appears the government, not IBM, is on the hook for fixing the problems. So why, one wonders, would the government sign a contract that left it so dangerously exposed to financial and technical risk?

Phoenix was supposed to save Ottawa $70-million a year. Instead, the government has spent $50-million fixing the problem, including an extra $6-million paid to IBM, and there is no end in sight.

This isn’t just a story of a botched payroll system. It’s about the chronic inability of governments to manage major purchases, including technology projects.

Unless Ottawa gets to the bottom of what went wrong on Phoenix, it will keep making the same mistakes elsewhere in the government.

That should worry all taxpayers, not just government workers.

Source: Someone should take the fall for Ottawa’s botched Phoenix pay system – The Globe and Mail

Shared Services Canada, already having resulted in the resignation of the Chief Statistician (INSERT), now comes under fire from the RCMP:

CBC News has obtained a blistering Jan. 20, 2017, memo to Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale in which Commissioner Bob Paulson details how critical IT failures have increased by 129 per cent since the beleaguered department took over tech support for the entire government five years ago.

Not only that, the memo says, the duration of each outage has increased by 98 per cent.

“Its ‘one size fits all’ IT shared services model has negatively impacted police operations, public and officer safety and the integrity of the criminal justice system,” reads the memo.

The document appears to respond to a request for more information after a series of CBC News reports on the RCMP’s long-standing dissatisfaction with Shared Services Canada (SSC).

Despite the agency’s creation of special teams and committees to address shoddy service and repeated computer outages, Paulson said minimal progress has been made.

The commissioner bolstered his arguments by enclosing an appendix of recent critical incidents to show just how little appreciation or understanding there is for operational law enforcement requirements.

RCMP commissioner warns continued IT failures will have ‘catastrophic’ consequences

RCMP commissioner worries ‘caustic political discourse’ is radicalizing extremists

Sensible observations and words, applying to Canadian and foreign political discourse:

Canada’s top cop says he’s concerned that the “caustic tone” of “political discourse” in Canada may be a contributing factor in radicalizing “criminal extremists” like the shooter in Quebec City last week.

RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson appeared Monday at the Senate standing committee on national security and defence and was asked for an update on the terrorism threat in Canada in the wake of the Quebec City massacre at the Ste-Foy mosque.

Paulson refused to provide specific numbers of individuals or groups under investigation. Yet asked whether authorities detect a rise in what Paulson had called “non-classic” terrorist activity such as the offender in Quebec City, he said, “there’s not an increase in that particular type of activity but there is, I think everyone would agree, a more sort of caustic tone to the political discourse that seems to attract and agitate and radicalize people of all persuasions, particularly those who know hardly anything about it, to engage.”

“And that represents a concern for us. And I think everybody’s concerned about that including the Service (Canadian Security Intelligence Service, or CSIS) and us and other police forces. And we are doing everything we can to get our heads around it.”

In the wake of the shooting, he said, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police convened its counter-terrorism committee to compare notes and reach out to Muslim community leaders, in part to ensure they were aware of any risk to them.

“We are doubling our efforts down with our police partners to make sure that we have a full sense of the picture there.” he said.

Drawing a distinction between classic jihadist-inspired terrorism and other kinds of radicalization, Paulson gave the example of Freemen of the Land “out in the West,” referring to followers of a movement who refuse to acknowledge police authority and believe only laws they consent to are applicable to them. Paulson said police have had “numerous encounters with that kind of criminality and other instances.”

“I wouldn’t say it’s overtaking the classic terrorism threat but it’s something we shouldn’t lose sight of as we pursue these other threats.”

 

…But Paulson did not back down from his clear warning there are lessons to be drawn from the case of Alexandre Bissonnette, charged with first-degree murder after six Muslim men died in the Ste-Foy shooting on Jan 29.Bissonnette’s social media activity showed he “liked” a wide range of pages that did not fall under a specific ideology, including those of U.S. President Donald Trump, far-right French politician Marine Le Pen, the federal NDP and former NDP leader Jack Layton.

“This offender needs to be understood, what was driving him to have acted in the way that he did,” said Paulson. “And sometimes there’s a political backdrop to that. And you know it seems to me more broadly some of the conversations that are taking place in some of those chats, on the Internet, on Twitter and those kinds of forums, approach — and I’ve been asked several times how come we’re not pursuing hate crime investigations in some areas — so we need to make sure we’re being thoughtful about doing that.”

Paulson said police continue to investigate whether terrorism charges are warranted in Bissonnette’s case. “If at some point in the view of the police and the prosecutor there is a compelling public interest dimension and the evidence is sufficiently developed to make the sensible argument that a terrorism prosecution is in order, then that’s what will happen.”

Source: RCMP commissioner worries ‘caustic political discourse’ is radicalizing extremists | Toronto Star

RCMP allows Muslim women Mounties to wear hijab

English media finally caught up to the French media on this story (see earlier Le hijab, nouvelle pièce d’équipement des agentes de la GRC)

The Mounties have adopted a new uniform policy to allow female Muslim officers to wear the hijab.

Scott Bardsley, spokesman for Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, confirmed that RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson recently approved an addition to the uniform policy to allow women officers to wear the head scarf “if they so choose.”

“The Royal Canadian Mounted Police is a progressive and inclusive police service that values and respects persons of all cultural and religious backgrounds,” Bardsley said in an email.

Male members of the Sikh faith have been able to wear the turban as part of the RCMP uniform since the early 1990s, he noted.

That right was won by Baltej Singh Dhillon, a young practising Sikh who wanted to become a Mountie but also wanted to wear a turban on the job.

The federal government’s decision in 1990 to end the ban and allow him provoked emotional debate and widespread protests across Canada.

Bardsley said the new policy is intended to better reflect diversity in Canadian communities and to encourage more Muslim women to consider the RCMP as a career option.

Special RCMP hijab developed

RCMP Staff Sgt. Julie Gagnon said current policy, which came into effect in January 2016, requires an “exemption” to wear the hijab from the commissioner, the only senior officer permitted to approve faith-based accommodations.

Gagnon said the RCMP developed a hijab for applicants or serving female members of the Islamic faith, reflecting “the diversity of the RCMP’s workforce.” It underwent rigorous testing to ensure the design meets “the highest standards of officer safety.”

She said the RCMP currently has no members requesting to wear the hijab on duty.

The only other religious or cultural item allowed is the turban for male officers.

Source: RCMP allows Muslim women Mounties to wear hijab – Politics – CBC News