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Justin Trudeau

Trudeau endorses body cameras for RCMP, relaxes border controls for foreign family members abroad

Monday, June 08, 2020 @ 4:35 PM | By Cristin Schmitz

Last Updated: Tuesday, June 09, 2020 @ 9:04 AM

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is calling for “bold measures” to fight anti-black and anti-Indigenous racism, including putting body cameras on RCMP officers and local police forces — a move that would require provincial and municipal collaboration in many parts of the country.

“With the many disturbing reports of violence against black Canadians and Indigenous people, we know that we need to do much more, and we need to do it now,” Trudeau declared June 8 during his daily COVID-19 update in Ottawa.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

In response to a reporter’s question, the prime minister stated that, in his opinion, body cameras are something that “we need to move forward with.”

“I think these are discussions we need to go forward on, on the logistics, on the cost, on the cost to provinces where there is contract policing in place,” he stipulated. “But the challenges that I’ve heard are more logistical and economic concerns about remote areas, and the way those cameras would work.”

The prime minister disclosed that he started to talk about putting body cameras on the RCMP with his cabinet last Friday — a discussion that was to resume at a special cabinet meeting June 8. Trudeau said he also spoke the same day with RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki, who “assured me that she will use all available tools to take quick, solid action.”

Trudeau committed to raising the issue of adopting body cameras in his regular weekly discussion with premiers on June 11, 2020, “so we can move forward as quickly as possible.”

He noted Public Safety Minister Bill Blair “has also reaffirmed to me his commitment to improving Indigenous policing, and later today, I have a stock-take on reconciliation to discuss our work with Indigenous communities. I am committing to you that this work will continue to accelerate the pace of change because you deserve real commitments as quickly as possible that address the root causes of these problems.”

The prime minister’s comments followed protests across Canada in the past few days against police brutality, violence and racism experienced by Indigenous and black persons.

“The reality is many people in this country simply do not feel protected by the police. In fact, they’re afraid of them,” commented Trudeau. “That alone would be bad enough, but systemic discrimination and racism in Canada goes much further than just policing. It’s about poverty and mental health. It’s about the fact that people are all too often treated like criminals instead of receiving the support that they need.”

Trudeau said he attended an anti-racism rally on Parliament Hill June 5 — where he “took a knee” in solidarity with demonstrators protesting police violence against racialized people — “to support and listen to what community leaders and black Canadians are calling for. I hear you, and I see you, as you call out systemic discrimination, racism and unconscious bias — as you call for action, and as you call for it now.”

The prime minister noted his own government has committed to addressing systemic racism and injustice, and has started doing so via its anti-racism strategy for 2019-2022 and the creation of an anti-racism secretariat, as well as its appointment of a cabinet minister responsible for diversity and inclusion. However he stressed that much more needs to be done to combat systemic racism, and that all governments must work together, while their leaders “need to recognize that these problems are tied to economic inequality and the racialization of poverty, and we need bold measures to address this.”

Trudeau stated that although the federal government has jurisdiction over the RCMP, “there are many other provincial and municipal police forces that should be looking at greater transparency measures as well, and I will certainly be talking ... with the provinces and premiers about the need to move forward on measures like body cameras.”

On a separate subject, the prime minister announced that, effective June 8 at 23:59 EDT, foreign nationals who are immediate family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents — and who do not have COVID-19 or exhibit any signs or symptoms of COVID-19, or who do not have reason to believe they have COVID-19 — will be exempt from the current temporary prohibition on entry to Canada if they are entering to be with an immediate family member for a period of at least 15 days. (The temporary ban on all discretionary/optional travel at the Canada-U.S. border continues until at least June 21, 2020.)

“This is an incredibly difficult time to be apart from a spouse, a child, or mom and dad,” Trudeau acknowledged. “I want to be clear though — anyone entering the country will be required to quarantine for 14 days. If you don’t follow these rules, you can face serious penalties.”

The government defined an “immediate family member” as a person’s: a) spouse or common law partner; b) dependent child, as defined in s. 2 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, or a dependent child of the person’s spouse or common law partner; c) dependent child, as defined in s. 2, of a dependent child referred to in paragraph (b);  d) parent or stepparent or the parent or stepparent of the person’s spouse or common law partner; or e) guardian or tutor.

The limited exemption from the travel ban does not apply to immediate family members of temporary residents, such as foreign nationals on a student or work visa.

Asymptomatic foreign nationals who are immediate family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents — who intend to stay in Canada for 14 days or less — may still enter Canada so long as their entry is not for a purpose that is discretionary and, if seeking entry from the United States, they are able to comply with the requirement to quarantine based on their purpose of travel and intended length of stay.

They must be able to confirm that they have arranged, in advance of their arrival, a suitable place to quarantine for 14 days where they will have access to such basic necessities as food and medication and not have contact with vulnerable people, such as adults aged 65 years or over, and persons with pre-existing medical conditions — unless the vulnerable person is a consenting adult or is the parent or minor in a parent-minor relationship. They must also provide their contact information to a border services officer when they seek entry.

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