NWT MP Michael McLeod criticized RCMP and demanded more Indigenous policing after an officer who pleaded guilty to sexual assault was asked to leave Fort Good Hope.
In a statement on Monday, Liberal MP Michael McLeod said he had asked federal public safety minister Bill Blair how the officer was placed in the community and wants Blair to ensure something similar does not happen again.
McLeod noted the territory has a large population of residential school survivors “who need to be helped and supported.”
“We need the RCMP to send us their best,” he said.
“The RCMP play an important role in keeping people safe but the trust has been shaken. Let’s work on rebuilding it immediately.”
McLeod said he has repeatedly asked for more Indigenous policing across the North and Canada, saying Indigenous police are “best-equipped to be culturally responsive.”
The CBC first reported an RCMP officer named Randy McKay had been asked to leave Fort Good Hope in May. Community members discovered he had been charged with and pleaded guilty to sexual assault.
According to a 2016 CBC article posted on noticeboards in the community, McKay was an officer in Buffalo Narrows, Saskatchewan, when he was charged with one count of sexual assault following an incident in May 2015.
McKay pleaded guilty to the charge and was sentenced to a conditional discharge in January 2016. That means he received probation without jail time and the charge did not go on his criminal record.
Chief Masuzumi did not return requests for an interview. RCMP in the NWT did not respond to questions.
Premier wants body cameras
McLeod said he is glad an inspector apologized but said the community should be able to have a town-hall meeting to discuss the issue openly.
The MP said things had progressed past “the point where our police services need to be put under a microscope,” adding people around the world were “coming together to stand up and speak out against the systemic racism in the policing of Black and Indigenous peoples.”
There have been growing calls for RCMP officers to wear body cameras while on duty.
Premier Caroline Cochrane said she’s in favour of RCMP wearing body cameras.
In an interview with CBC’s Rosemary Barton on Monday, NWT Premier Caroline Cochrane said she is in favour of body cameras because they will help protect the public and “regain that social acceptance of the RCMP.”
“We’re 50-percent Indigenous so for us, racism is a huge issue. It’s something we’re always combatting,” she said. “But the RCMP have a tough job as well. It can be very scary at times.”
National RCMP spokesperson Cpl Caroline Duval told Cabin Radio by email that RCMP will work with national policing partners on a broader rollout of body cameras.
She said Commissioner Brenda Lucki discussed the use of body cameras with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to ensure accurate evidence-gathering, accountability, transparency, and a first-person view of what police officers encounter.
“The commissioner agrees it is critically important for Canadians to feel protected by the police,” Duval wrote, “and is committed to take whatever steps are required to enhance trust between the RCMP and the communities we serve.”