Justin Trudeau promises to do more to combat racism and racial discrimination, including equipping RCMP officers with body cameras. But the Prime Minister was also forced on Monday to explain his participation in a major anti-racism demonstration in Ottawa, which brought together thousands of citizens and thereby contravened directives to counter the pandemic.
As denunciations of racist acts in Canada continue to increase on all platforms, Mr. Trudeau insisted on Monday that he was “ready to take action”. And to do so, he announced his wish to force Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers to wear body cameras and warned that he would discuss the same subject with the provincial premiers during their weekly call Thursday.
Mr. Trudeau believes that these body cameras are “a very important element of transparency”, both for the RCMP and for provincial or municipal police forces. The Prime Minister met with RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki on Monday morning and raised the issue. The only hesitation on the part of the federal police force would be logistical, economic or technical, he said, but there would be no “substantial” objection. “I think we agree that we have to go ahead with these cameras for RCMP officers,” he said.
A risky demonstration
However, the Prime Minister also had to defend himself from taking part in a major anti-racism demonstration in Ottawa on Friday, as it has happened in other Canadian cities. Mr. Trudeau then joined several thousand people on Parliament Hill.
Public health implores Canadians to avoid the gathering of more than five or ten people to stop the spread of COVID-19.
“We are in a situation where we are constantly called upon to make difficult choices,” said Mr. Trudeau. We have to follow public health recommendations, and that’s what I tried to do. But I also thought it was very important that the Prime Minister be there to listen, to hear the voices of the thousands of Canadians who want to act faster, more firmly to counter the systemic discrimination that exists in this country. This is the choice I have and I think it was the right choice. “
“I have taken the necessary measures as much as possible,” he added. I wore a mask, I kept my distance as much as possible as I could. But actually it’s a delicate balance that people are going to have to watch out for. “
When asked about the big event, the deputy chief public health officer, Dr. Howard Njoo, agreed, however, that it was “possible that with what has happened there is a risk” of spread of COVID-19. “We will see what happens in the coming weeks,” he added.
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer has rightly accused Trudeau of violating all guidelines for physical distancing that have been hammered out by federal public health officials for the past three months.
People are being hammered to stay at home, not to gather, they are forbidden to visit their dying loved ones or to meet for their funerals, said Scheer. “After these difficult times that people have gone through, I can understand that they are confused as to what advice they should follow and angry that the Prime Minister seems to have completely ignored the advice of public health representatives”, he lamented.
The Bloc leader, Yves-François Blanchet, criticized the Prime Minister for having taken a risk which he considered “reckless” by mixing with a crowd of such magnitude. “Going to take photos at a kneeling demonstration, is it necessary when you are Prime Minister of Canada? It’s a good old habit but the relevance is questionable, “he said. Mr. Blanchet argued that as Prime Minister Mr. Trudeau took advantage of a forum to express himself, unlike the demonstrators who have no other way to express their anger than to demonstrate.
Mr. Trudeau kneeled twice during the demonstration – the first in solidarity with the demonstrators, the second during a moment of meditation of more than eight minutes in memory of George Floyd died choked under the knee d ” a police officer who crushed his neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds in Minneapolis.
The Prime Minister explained his choice to kneel with the protesters. “For me, getting on my knee is a sign of respect, of solidarity with them. “
Family reunification permitted with the United States
Trudeau also announced that the border closure agreement with the United States will be amended to allow family reunification. “It is an extremely difficult time to be separated from a spouse, child, or mom or dad. We understand. It is for this reason that we will introduce a limited exemption that will immediately allow immediate family members of citizens or permanent residents to enter Canada. “
The Prime Minister had raised this idea with his provincial counterparts ten days ago in order to expand the entry exceptions provided at the Canada-United States border that so far only allowed essential workers to enter the workforce. two countries.
This possibility was not unanimous among the provinces at the time. François Legault had then reported that those in the West, less affected by the pandemic, were more willing than those in the East to loosen border restrictions. Mr. Legault himself admitted on May 29 that he preferred “to restrict the circulation of families and tourists for a few more months”.
To date, there have been 1.94 million cases of COVID-19 in the United States – compared to 95,700 in Canada – and the coronavirus has claimed 110,500 lives in the United States – while Canada has 7,800 deaths on Sunday evening.