African Nova Scotian Affairs Minister Urges RCMP for Action Beyond Apologies over Racial Profiling

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The recently appointed African Nova Scotian Affairs minister, Twila Grosse, has welcomed the promise of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) to apologize for its practice of street checks targeted at Black individuals. Nonetheless, Grosse places higher significance on the potential for future transformation in police behaviour.

Drawing from her own past experiences, Grosse revealed that she was subjected to an unfounded traffic stop in Halifax around two decades ago. At a cabinet meeting on Thursday, she confessed to the media that it was “quite intimidating” to be pulled over by the police “for no particular reason”. During the incident, she was plagued with questions such as “why, what did I do, what’s wrong?”. Grosse harbours no semblance of ambiguity about the cause of the incident, categorically stating that the reason for the traffic stop was simply because she was a Black driver.

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With a sense of anticipation, Grosse is awaiting the engagement of the Black community in the forthcoming consultation process before the RCMP’s planned apology. She emphasized the importance of an action plan following the apology, querying “What comes after that? What is the plan of action going forward?” She voiced her concerns about previous instances where apologies were vacuous and without substance, posing the question of how to progress from that point.

The RCMP have committed to tender the apology and present a subsequent action plan, post a series of 14 meetings with Black community’s representatives. However, Grosse expressed her disappointment over the delay in this redemptive gesture, stating that “The apology should have come much sooner. Why it took so long, I have no idea.”

Street checks, now prohibited in Nova Scotia, were a practice where law enforcement officers would stop individuals on the street to document their personal information. A formal apology for these checks was issued to the Black community of the province by the Halifax Regional Police’s chief in November 2019, yet the RCMP refrained from offering an immediate apology of their own.

The Commander of the Nova Scotia RCMP, Assistant Commissioner Dennis Daley, conceded in a recent interview that there exists an urgent need for action to rebuild the damaged trust with Black citizens. He articulated that the impending discussions would explore new ways for police to interact with Black citizens, including their conduct during traffic stops as well as ticket issuance procedures.