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Police watchdog to release results of review of Thunder Bay force – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press</span>


Published Wednesday, December 12, 2018 6:40AM EST


Last Updated Wednesday, December 12, 2018 1:41PM EST

Police investigations into the deaths of nine Indigenous people in Thunder Bay, Ont., were so problematic that they should be reinvestigated, an independent review released Wednesday recommends.

The recommendation by Ontario’s police watchdog is one of 44 in a report that concludes the city’s police service is rife with racism and racist attitudes.

“The failure to conduct adequate investigations and the premature conclusions drawn in these cases is, at least in part, attributable to racist attitudes and racial stereotyping,” the report finds. “Officers repeatedly relied on generalized notions about how Indigenous people likely came to their deaths and acted, or refrained from acting, based on those biases.”

The 206-page report by the Office of the Independent Police Review Director calls the findings deeply troubling.

In a statement, Thunder Bay Police Chief Sylvie Hauth acknowledged unspecified “systemic barriers in policing” that must be addressed. However, she said the service needed time to study the report as it “continues to work towards bias-free policing.”

The OIPRD began the probe of Thunder Bay’s police service in November 2016. The report finds the state of relations between police and First Nations to be one of crisis.

In all, Director Gerry McNeilly’s team delved into 37 investigations by police involving sudden Indigenous deaths going back to 2009. The probe also looked into the deaths of seven young Indigenous youth that became the subject of a coroner’s inquest.

Among its findings, the report, titled “Broken Trust,” concludes that police investigators lacked experience in sudden death or homicide investigations. In some cases, they didn’t even access autopsy results or understand them when they did.

In all, the investigations were frequently shoddy, the report finds.

“Investigators failed to know what was in their own investigative file, including supplementary occurrence reports filed by uniform patrol officers,” McNeilly writes. “Investigators failed on an unacceptably high number of occasions to treat or protect the deceased and his or her family equally and without discrimination because the deceased was Indigenous.”

The director also recommends the possibility of reinvestigating other deaths, including that of Stacy DeBungee, 41, of Rainy River First Nation, who was found dead on the banks of the McIntrye River in 2015. Within three hours of finding his body, the police service issued a statement saying the death “did not appear suspicious.”

In an earlier finding released this year, McNeilly concluded the investigation into the DeBungee death was grossly inadequate.

In their defence, the police service and its officers explained they were overworked and lacked training and resources. While partly sympathetic, McNeilly rejects the excuses.

“These explanations cannot fully account for the failings we observed, given their nature and severity,” he says. “I find systemic racism exists in TBPS at an institutional level.”

McNeilly, who stressed not all Thunder Bay officers are racist, traces the “broken” relationship between Indigenous people and police to colonialist policies and the fact that police have been used to implement the policies. The upshot, he says, is that a “crisis of trust” afflicting the relationship was palpable.

Other recommendations include increased staffing and restructuring of the service’s main crime units on an urgent basis, enhanced case management, mandating name tags for officers to wear, and requiring officers to disclose potential evidence of police misconduct.

The report also calls for an end to systemic racism in the force. It wants to see implementation of psychological testing designed to eliminate racist applicants on a priority basis.

“(Police) leadership should publicly and formally acknowledge that racism exists at all levels within the police service and it will not tolerate racist views or actions,” the report recommends.

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MacKay will vote for Scheer to stay on as Conservative Leader

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Former Conservative cabinet minister Peter MacKay says that when the time comes to vote on Andrew Scheer’s continued leadership of the party, he’s going to back the Conservative Leader.

The comment comes less than two weeks after MacKay told a Wilson Centre think tank panel in Washington that Scheer’s 2019 election loss “was like having a breakaway on an open net and missing the net.”

Now, MacKay – whose name has been floated as a potential challenger to Scheer for the top spot in the party – told CTV Power Play host Don Martin that he supports the current leader and will continue to do so.

“Well Andrew Scheer is going to face a mandatory review, Don, that’s part of the Conservative constitution, so that will be for he and the membership. I’ll be there, and I’ll be voting no,” MacKay told Martin in a pre-taped interview, airing Monday.

MacKay also walked back other comments made during the same panel on Oct. 30. At the time, MacKay said the chatter about issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage “hung around Andrew Scheer’s neck like stinking albatross, quite frankly.”

Speaking to Martin on Monday, MacKay said those comments weren’t directed at Scheer’s position on those issues.

“Those comments, of course, were torqued. It was about the election performance generally, writ large, myself included. It wasn’t aimed directly at Andrew Scheer – and when I said there was an albatross around his neck, he didn’t put it there. It was put there by the media, it was put there by the opposition quite deliberately to hamstring his performance,” said MacKay.

Asked about the lack of clarity surrounding Scheer’s personal beliefs on same-sex marriage, MacKay couldn’t explain why Scheer hasn’t been more clear.

“I think Andrew Scheer, who has very strong beliefs, doesn’t think it’s a sin and I can’t answer why it is he hasn’t been more direct in his answer,” MacKay said.

MacKay went on to defend both Andrew Scheer and the Conservative Party’s record when it comes to protecting human rights.

“Andrew Scheer was part of the Conservative government for ten years that not only didn’t remove rights, it enhanced rights. It spoke up for people’s rights on the international stage…there’s a proud legacy that Andrew Scheer is a part of, can take ownership of, and can proudly stand behind and I believe he is doing that. He’s trying to make that case.”

Scheer was criticized during the election campaign for failing to clarify his personal beliefs on issues including same-sex marriage and abortion. Scheer, a social Conservative who has publicly opposed both issues in the past, says he would uphold the law on abortion.

He also said in a pre-campaign speech that if he formed government, he would “support and introduce” legislation that protects LGBTQ Canadians.

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Nova Scotians condemn Don Cherry’s poppy comments

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Joseph Lunda recalls choking back tears while teaching high school students about the contributions of Canadian soldiers in the First and Second World Wars.

A historian, he immigrated to Canada from the Democratic Republic of Congo 37 years ago, and became a Canadian history teacher in Nova Scotia.

“Any time I’m talking about a site where Canadians fought, all the time tears were coming,” he told Global News at the Remembrance Day Ceremony in Dartmouth.

“Why? Because I remember what these people have done for all of us to benefit (from) — the liberty, the freedom — in this country.”

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Lunda is one of many Canadian immigrants who felt hurt by comments from Don Cherry suggesting not enough newcomers wear poppies, and therefore don’t support veterans.

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Cherry made the complaint during his Coach’s Corner segment on Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday, and has since received an abundance of backlash, including calls for his resignation.

Lunda, who now teaches at Université Sainte-Anne, attended the Remembrance Day Ceremony with his family. He said not wearing a poppy is not necessarily an indication that one doesn’t support members of the Canadian Armed Forces, past or present.

“Let’s say I have it on my chest and it falls down, and I meet Don Cherry. He’s going to tell me I’m not supporting veterans?” he said. “You see I am here at this memorial. Why am I here? Because I support.”

Others agreed with Lunda and spoke out against the hockey commentator’s suggestion.

Don Cherry faces backlash over comments on Remembrance Day, poppies and immigrants

Gerry White, a veteran of both Royal Canadian Navy and RCMP, said it’s “pretty straightforward” — Cherry’s comments were “out of line.”

“I won’t say disgusting, (but) I guess I already did,” White told Global News. “I don’t think that was a comment that’s shared by the large majority of Canadians…

“One of the rights we fought for was your right to wear a poppy or not wear a poppy. It’s pretty straightforward.”

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Civilians and military members lay down wreaths at the Sullivan’s Pond Cenotaph in Dartmouth, N.S. on Remembrance Day.

Civilians and military members lay down wreaths at the Sullivan’s Pond Cenotaph in Dartmouth, N.S. on Remembrance Day.


Elizabeth McSheffrey/Global News

Dartmouth-Cole Harbour MP Darren Fisher said he was “very disappointed” in Cherry’s Saturday night rant and said Canada is a country made up of immigrants. The new federal government in Ottawa has a responsibility to unite Canadians, he added, in the face of anti-immigrant sentiments.

“We hear it occasionally and it’s very disappointing every time we hear it. This is not a time to be divisive in Canada, this is a time to be united,” he explained.

“Look at the crowds here today. This is a beautiful, beautiful day to honour our veterans — the women and men who served Canada.”

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“I think Canadians get it more and more.”

Fisher said he’d like to see all Canadians show the same level of support for veterans, not just on Remembrance Day, but every day.

Cherry has yet to apologize for his comments over the weekend. Late on Monday Sportsnet confirmed that Cherry had stepped down from his role on Hockey Night in Canada.

“Following further discussions with Don Cherry after Saturday Night’s Broadcast, it has been decided it is the right time for him to immediately step down,” said Sportsnet’s president Bart Yabsley in a statement.

“During the broadcast, he made divisive remarks that do not represent our values or what we stand for,” said Yabsley in a statement.

—With files from Hannah Jackson 

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Man up and apologize, Liberal MP from Quebec tells Don Cherry

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Greg Fergus notes his Montserrat-born grandfather was a tailor in the RAF — “that was as far as they would let that young Black man serve.”

Don Cherry, in his weekly Hockey Night in Canada segment, suggested new immigrants were not wearing poppies in the days leading up to Remembrance Day. Darren Calabrese / THE CANADIAN PRESS

The Liberal MP for Hull-Aylmer is calling upon Don Cherry to apologize for remarks about immigrants he made on last Saturday’s edition of Hockey Night in Canada.

“My Montserrat-born and bred grandfather signed up for the RAF and served as a tailor, for that was as far as they would let that young Black man serve,” Greg Fergus wrote in his Twitter account in the hours after Cherry’s comments. “Because of that service, he was able to bring his young family to Canada.

“Seven decades later, I am able to take my seat in the House of Commons and serve my country. Mr. Cherry: my grandfather’s story is not unique. I trust you are a big enough man to apologize for your comments.”

Fergus’ comments are part of the larger wave of backlash over comments made about immigrants by Cherry during his Coach’s Corner segment.

The 85-year-old commentator — no stranger to controversy sparked by his comments in the past — suggested new immigrants were not wearing poppies in the days leading up to Remembrance Day.

“You people … that come here … you love our way of life, you love our milk and honey, at least you can pay a couple bucks for a poppy or something like that,” Cherry said. “These guys paid for your way of life that you enjoy in Canada, these guys paid the biggest price.”

After Cherry’s remarks sparked a massive online backlash, Sportsnet issued an apology, saying “Don’s discriminatory comments are offensive and they do not represent our values and what we stand for as a network.”

Ron MacLean, Cherry’s on-air sidekick who had nodded and given a thumbs up during the remarks, also issued an apology, saying the comments were “were hurtful and prejudiced and I wish I had handled myself differently. It was a divisive moment and I am truly upset with myself for allowing it.”

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