Looking forward to positive action

It comes as no surprise to us that more Canadians are now questioning their trust in the police as protests against racism and police brutality continue in Canada and the United States, weeks after the killing of George Floyd.

A survey last weekend by Leger and Association for Canadian Studies show that while the majority of Canadians remain largely trusting of their law enforcement agncies, there is a noticeable drop in the number who said they trusted the police “a lot or somewhat.”

According to the survey, 70 per cent of the respondents over the weekend indicated that they trusted the police ” a lot or somewhat ” – a decline of nine percentage points from last May and eleven points from last April.

We have no doubt that the figures would be much higher if today a similar poll were conducted entirely in the Caribbean or Black community.

However, as Leger executive vice-president Christian Bourque said, the survey ” does signal that a percentage of Canadians are asking themselves questions about how police forces are doing their work.”

And we note with interest that 90 per cent of respondents in the survey were in favour of police wearing body cameras while 87 per cent supported providing more hours of training for officers on relations with “visible minorities.”

We hope that the powers that be are taking note.

Had Toronto police officers being equipped with body cameras when they responded to a  recent 911 call from the  a high-rise building from which a young Black woman plunged to her death , the Special Investigations Unit  would have had a much clearer picture of what really happened.

Did she fall from her 24th floor balcony? Or was she pushed?

We are still awaiting answers to these questions and many others with respect to this tragic incident.

Will the protest demonstations against racism and police brutality lead to significant changes  in Canada and the United States?

Or will governments forget about these issues once the protesters are no longer on the streets?

Several stories in this week’s issue of The Caribbean  Camera  indicate that governments in Canada are indeed paying attention to problems of systemic racism and police brutality.

Treasury Board President Jean-Yves Duclos told a media briefing in  Ottawa on Monday that the prime minister wants to move “very quickly” to dismantle barriers that contribute to systemic racism.

Duclos mentioned a list of areas, including education, public safety and Indigenous relations, where advances in equity can be made.

He said that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has already engaged his team “to work very quickly and very efficiently” in coming up with a way forward.

Trudeau himself has said that there had been “stacks of recommendations, of analyses, of reports on measures that can be taken” to address systemic racism, particularly against Indigenous Canadians.

“It is a question of picking which of those recommendations we should be moving forward with first,” he noted.

We are also pleased to note that the Ontario government is finally paying attention to the requests by various  Black advocates to collect race-based data with respect to the COVID-19 infection.

The Ontario government  announced on Monday that it would act on the advice of community leaders and public health experts who want the figures tracked.

As we reported, Toronto Public Health has been analyzing cases of coronavirus disease in terms of geographic area  and the information has indicated higher infection rates were more prevalent in low-income neighbourhoods with a higher percentage of immigrants and visible minorities.

It is unfortunate that it has to take world-wide protests with respect to the murder of George Floyd by a policeman in Minnesota to get governments to  focus attention on the problems affecting Blacks and other minorities.

When the protesters leave the streets, we hope that these problems will not be forgotten by governments.

Talk is cheap. We now look forward to positive action to tackle these problems.