A report published on Nov. 19 revealed that “A toxic culture reigns in the RCMP.” The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) encourages “misogynist, racist and homophobic attitudes.” Thousands of cases of sexual assault, touching, harassment, degradation, and threats, have been reported against RCMP officers. We are not talking about two or three rotten apples. Former Supreme Court of Canada Justice Michel Bastarache, who headed the report, explained “the problem is systemic in nature and cannot be corrected simply by punishing a few ‘black sheep.”
The same toxic culture can be found in other police forces, in the Canadian Armed Forces, and in the Governor General’s office. A few institutional reforms or employee awareness campaigns will not fundamentally change the problem. These state institutions are rotted to the core by systemic racism, homophobia and sexism for one simple reason: they are the weapons of a toxic system: the capitalist system.
The report reviewed 3,086 claims of gender- and sexuality-based discrimination and harassment from women including over 130 from women who were sexually assaulted and violated by male RCMP officers. The total amount of damages claimed is over $125 million. These women “told the evaluators about the brutal treatment they received, which devastated them, broke any confidence they had towards their colleagues.” LGBTQ individuals “also were ostracized, victims of derogatory comments, sexual assault and disclosure of their orientation without their consent.”
A systematically racist police force
Fortunately, the victims were consoled by the crocodile tears shed by Justin Trudeau, who did not hesitate for a second to denounce “the systemic discrimination that exists in Canada and in our institutions, including the RCMP.” RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki is also dismayed. She had already acknowledged that she had personally experienced harassment in the RCMP, but she takes the time to reassure us that “we have made progress since then” and that the culture within the RCMP has changed since she took office about two and a half years ago.
She had confirmed the presence of systemic racism within the federal police last June. “Systemic racism is part of all institutions, including the RCMP. Throughout our history, we have not always treated racialized people and Aboriginal people fairly, and this is still the case today.”
Strangely enough, if we remember recent events correctly, it was last February that the same commissioner sent the RCMP to violently suppress the Wet’suwet’en resisting Trudeau’s invasion of their unceded territory in order to build a pipeline. And it was under their leadership that the RCMP cowardly refrained from defending Mi’kmaq fishermen from the violence from racist fishermen in Nova Scotia this past October. Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde and NDP leader Jagmeet Singh called on the Prime Minister at that time to fire Commissioner Lucki, which Trudeau refused to do.
And of course we have yet to mention the racist acts of the RCMP which helped ignite the Black Lives Matter movement this summer: videos showing police violence against Indigineous and Black people, an RCMP officer hitting an Inuk man in Kinngait with the door of a police vehicle, and Chief Allan Adam being violently attacked and arrested by RCMP officers in Fort McMurray. This is to say nothing of the actions of other police forces across the country, who have been responsible for the murder of D’Andre Campbell,the death of Regis Korchinski-Paquet, the murder of Chantel Moore, and many others.
Fortunately, we can count on Trudeau and Lucki to fight systemic racism, while systematically repressing Indigenous people for the profit of the capitalists. “We are committed to reforming the RCMP and we are working on that,” Trudeau reassures us.
The RCMP cannot be reformed
Mr. Bastarache recommends that the federal government conduct a broad external and independent review of the RCMP, as he believes that change cannot come from within the RCMP, “but rather must be initiated by external sources.”
Curiously, Trudeau and Lucki, our leading advocates against misogyny and systemic racism, do not accept this recommendation and instead favour internal reforms, such as those already underway in the RCMP, including a new, more independent harassment complaint system. Victims are now reassured that they will be able to complain more effectively. If only the plan was to eliminate the need for them to make a complaint in the first place.
However, we should also note the inconsistency of Mr. Bastarache’s recommendations. He recommends that a body external to the RCMP investigate the RCMP, but that this body would still report to the federal government. Yet it is the same federal government that used the RCMP to forcibly build a pipeline on Wet’suwet’en territory. This is the same government that appointed and still protects Governor General Julie Payette, the true head of state, who instituted a regime of terror in her office (dubbed the “house of horrors”) of harassment, verbal abuse and humiliation. This is the same government that commands the Canadian Armed Forces, in which sexual misconduct was recognized as a serious problem.
The Canadian state cannot be trusted to end systemic sexism and racism. Far from being the solution, as a whole it is part of the problem. The RCMP is merely the federal armed wing of the capitalists, industrialists and bankers who dominate Canadian workers, pollute our ecosystems, and work hard to break the resistance of Indigenous peoples, only to add to their already overflowing wallets. As Marx said, the police are a special body of armed men in defence of private property. Capitalism needs the police; it cannot be reformed.
As long as this class of parasitic capitalists remains in power, they will have an interest in perpetuating sexism, racism, and homophobia—in its state institutions and in society in general—to divide the workers and the oppressed and turn us against each other. The police, all the police, including the RCMP, are only the bosses’ truncheon to force the worker and the oppressed into silence, when the usual tools of ideological coercion are lacking. Therefore, the only way to do away with the police is to do away with class society that requires police to maintain this unequal situation and put down the exploited and oppressed when they challenge the status quo.
The recent report on the RCMP should not be a surprise. It only revealed the tip of the iceberg of the toxicity of capitalist institutions. Justice for the victims of the RCMP’s sexism, homophobia, and racism will only be served when the toxic capitalist system it protects and serves is brought down.