(RCMP Comm. Bob Paulson addressed the Assembly of First Nations special assembly Wednesday in Gatineau, Que.)
APTN National News
GATINEAU – Confronted with accusations that the RCMP has racist members towards Indigenous peoples RCMP Comm. Bob Paulson didn’t split hairs Wednesday at the Assembly of First Nations special gathering in Gatineau, Que.
“I understand there are racists in my police force. I don’t want them to be in my police force,” said Paulson.
Paulson was fielding comments from the crowd, including several from Doug Kelly chair of the First Nations Health Council in British Columbia.
Kelly told Paulson Indigenous people face racism from the RCMP every day in the communities they police.
“Some of the worst racists carry a gun and they carry a badge authorized by you Commissioner Paulson,” said Kelly. “We need you to confront racism in the ranks. “
Paulson said there are procedures in place to keep officers accountable and said if people were having a problem with a racist member to go as far as call him.
But Kelly didn’t stop there.
He accused Paulson of being responsible for the suicide of an RCMP member in October 2014 – Cpl. Ron Francis, 43, of Kingsclear First Nation near Fredericton in New Brunswick.
The 22-year veteran of the RCMP had been struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder when he was suspended for smoking medical marijuana in uniform months prior that he used to treat the illness.
“Not that long ago a First Nation (member) committed suicide. The RCMP, as an employer, did not take care of that officer. The RCMP failed to make sure that one of their officers was properly looked after. Shame on you Mr. Paulson,” said Kelly. “You have to take care of your own troops. That’s on you, Mr. Paulson.”
Paulson said people should be assured the force “went a long distance to support that officer” but he took blame for the death.
“Clearly, he committed suicide and we failed. Clearly, he committed suicide so I failed,” said Paulson.
Paulson addressed the chiefs and delegates marking the first time an RCMP commissioner had done so.
He told the crowd of about 300 that the RCMP is going to take ownership in its role in missing and murdered Indigenous women.
He said the RCMP will be involved in a national inquiry that was called Tuesday by the Liberal government.
APTN tried to speak to Paulson but he left through a side door.