Systemic Racism

Commentary, Culture Wars, Brian Giesbrecht

The current Prime Minister recently publicly contradicted RCMP Commissioner, Brenda Lucki, for saying there is no systemic racism within the RCMP.  Actually, Lucki said she didn’t know what “systemic racism” is. 

In her words, “I have to admit, I really struggle with the term ‘systemic racism’. I have heard about five or ten definitions on TV. I think that if systemic racism is entrenched in our police and our procedures we don’t have systemic racism”.

The Prime Minister had none of that. According to him, not only was the RCMP “systemically racist” – whatever that means – all Canada’s institutions are “systemically racist”. A troop of his political supporters then loyally repeated his mantra. Yet, neither the Prime Minister nor his supporters were able to give a coherent definition of what being “systemically racist” was – even though they had just branded the RCMP and the whole country with that “racist” label.

It gets even worse: the PM has accepted that he is the leader of a country that is committing ongoing genocide against Indigenous people. When the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Girls and Women Inquiry (MMIGW) made that startling pronouncement in 2019, he agreed with it. This could lead to the nonsensical conclusion that every Canadian, including people of colour, are intent on murdering even the highly-paid Indigenous commissioners.

Yet, Canada is not a racist country and neither are its institutions. People from all over the world compete to immigrate to Canada for exactly that reason. Canada is widely known as a welcoming country, where all races and creeds live together without persecution. Yes, there are racists among us, but they are few in number.

And Canada’s police forces have never been so non-racist. In the past, it was not always the case. A generation ago both racism and brutality were definitely a problem in both local and national police forces. Since, decades of cultural training and education have produced police forces that are far better trained than in the past.  

While there is always room for improvement, and there will always be “rotten apples”, that applies to any institution. Canadian police are professionals who do a very difficult job, and they deserve our support. The constant undermining of police by politicians and others saps morale and, ironically, results in less protection for the very marginalized groups the “systemic racism” orthodoxy pretends to help: the FIDO effect – “Forget It, Drive On”.

We are seeing to the south of us what playing politics with the race issue results in. Going down the “systemic racism” rabbit hole is not the answer. Rather than play that futile game, best we individually adopt the Martin Luther King Jr. philosophy. He asked that we judge people by the content of their character and not by the colour of their skin. My guess is that 99% of Canadians are already doing exactly that.

Playing the “systemic racism” game leads to permanent racial and ethnic division. I think that Commissioner Lucki recognizes that important fact. Unfortunately, and to keep her job, she was made to publicly repent – though toeing the “systemic racism” line may not be enough.

Quebec Premier Francois remains one of Canada’s last leaders who refuse to kneel at the “systemic racism” altar. He rightly understands that it is his duty to lead – and not to divide.

 

Brian Giesbrecht, a retired judge, is a senior fellow at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy.