Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been accused of “humiliating” RCMP officers by kneeling at a Black Lives Matter protest.
Gilles Favreau, the retired deputy commissioner of operations for the RCMP, said Trudeau, protected since infancy by the RCMP, should be embarrassed.
The attack comes after Trudeau took a knee as part of a crowd gathered on Parliament Hill in June in solidarity with anti-racism demonstrators protesting police killings of Black people.
Social activists have already accused Trudeau of making a “hollow gesture.”
In a statement posted to the RCMP Veterans’ Association website, Favreau wrote, “Mister Prime Minister and all members of Parliament who try to gain political points on the back of the RCMP members should show some discomfort and embarrassment. In fact, they should have requested for explanations, valid and dependable statistics before identifying our members as racist and by doing so, humiliating us by kneeling down as if demanding pardon for our renowned organization who has served our country with honor, integrity and devotion for the last 147 years.”
Favreau’s statement said Trudeau should show more respect for the RCMP.
“You, that we have protected since your infancy, would have to lead us to believe that you are more acquainted with the RCMP than your recent statement depicts, especially based on your personal experience on how many RCMP members that you have met are considered racist,” said Favreau. “Your manner to conclude that the RCMP is systematic racist is based on myth rather than true facts.”
James Forrest, the director of communications at the RCMP Veterans’ Association, also said calls to defund the RCMP would not work.
“I don’t think defunding the RCMP does anybody any favours, because what you’re saying is reducing police services,” said Forrest. “I think what should be done is identifying what areas people think are causing unhappiness along the lines of racism and let’s see what could be done.”
British Columbia Senator Bev Busson, the first female commissioner of the RCMP, previously issued a statement supporting the police force.
“I am calling on each Canadian to remember the courage and dedication of our police officers,” said Busson’s statement. “Not two months ago we were celebrating these first responders, who were coming to work to protect us, risking their own health and that of their families in order to do their duty. Are we so convinced the actions of a few, who have yet to be afforded the right of due process, colors or describes the whole profession?”
She added, “The police in Canada are focused on the principle of community policing and risk their lives every day to protect people they don’t even know. They deserve our gratitude and support not because they are perfect, but because they are human.”
Kiké Roach, the Unifor national chair in social justice and democracy at Ryerson University, also criticized Trudeau’s kneeling gesture.
“His gesture was without substance and was merely symbolic. We have not seen the Trudeau government take any substantive actions to combat systemic racism,” she said.
Trudeau joined a growing list of politicians taking the knee in protest at the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, who was pinned under a white police officer’s knee before he died in Minneapolis. Other politicians include presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi along with House and Senate Democrats, and in the UK Labour leader Keir Starmer and his deputy Angela Rayner.