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Freeland says police must acknowledge racism after senior RCMP officer’s denial

The RCMP's commanding officer in Alberta said, " I don't believe that racism is systemic through Canadian policing"

June 11, 2020  The Canadian Press

OTTAWA — All federal agencies, including the police, must understand that systemic racism is a problem in Canada, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland says.

Freeland made the comments at a media briefing June 10 upon being asked about a denial from the RCMP’s commanding officer in Alberta, Deputy Commissioner Curtis Zablocki, that there is entrenched racism in Canadian policing.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been clear that systemic racism exists in all Canadian institutions, Freeland said.

“It is very important for all federal government institutions, including the police, to operate from an understanding that systemic racism is a problem for us here in Canada — to not be complacent about that — and we have to work together against it,” she said.

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Zablocki spoke June 8 in response to questions about the wave of protests over the death of George Floyd in the United States.

“I do see us different than the United States. I don’t believe that racism is systemic through Canadian policing. I don’t believe it’s systemic through policing in Alberta,” Zablocki told reporters in Edmonton.

He did say that racism is “prevalent” in all aspects of society, including in police services.

“It can be a problem in pockets. It’s not tolerated and we continue to … develop and work with our partners to identify ways to eliminate it.”

Freeland noted that Trudeau and Public Safety Minister Bill Blair had spoken to RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki about the issue.

“We know that a really big challenge for our government and for all of us is, first of all, of course, to acknowledge that this systemic racism exists and to take concrete action to work against it and, ultimately, to dismantle it,” Freeland said.