Question Period: Systemic Racism

By: Senator Lillian Eva Dyck (retired), The Hon. Jim Munson

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Hon. Jim Munson: Honourable senators, I have a question on behalf of Senator Lillian Dyck for the government leader in the Senate.

This is a bit of a preamble: The battered face of Chief Allan Adam is still very vivid. It is hard to erase the memory of seeing what happened to him at the hands of the RCMP. Senator Dyck says the sad reality is that Indigenous men, like Indigenous women, face a greater risk of being met with violence.

Senator Gold, Minister Blair issued a statement indicating that Indigenous people, black Canadians and other racialized people far too often experience systemic racism and desperate outcomes within the criminal justice system. He also tweeted, “We are deeply concerned by the incident that took place in Fort McMurray. People across the country deserve answers . . .”

Senator Gold, Indigenous people should not have to wait months or years to fix the long-standing problems of systemic racism within the RCMP. Something has to be done now. It is the responsibility of the government to hold Commissioner Brenda Lucki to account. It is also your responsibility to fix things that are wrong in the workings of the RCMP.

What concrete and rapid measures will you recommend be implemented right now to prevent increased violence towards, and increased incidence of the killing of Indigenous people by the police?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for your question.

What continues to happen in this country is deplorable and tragic. It would not be credible for me or any representative of a government, or indeed any citizen, to pretend — prétendre in French — that the problems of systemic racism that have plagued us in our history can be solved with one fix, or within a day or a week.

First, the government recognizes the problem and does not shrink away from naming it. Second, the government is committed to doing what it can to accelerate the pace of change in the institutions within its jurisdiction. Third, the Senate will have an opportunity, thanks to the motion we passed just a short while ago, to question ministers, including Minister Blair, on what he intends to do to address this tragic, deplorable and shameful situation in Canada.

Senator Munson: Thank you for the answer. I recognize that we will see Minister Blair on Thursday.

Senator, I have another question from Senator Dyck: What will Minister Blair do now, right now, to hold Commissioner Brenda Lucki to account? What actions will he take now? What managerial or administrative directives will he issue to her, to hold her to account?

Senator Gold: Senator, thank you for the question.

With regard to the commissioner, I think we’ll have the opportunity to ask the minister directly within a few short days. He is in the best position to answer what his intentions are.

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