This headline and announcement came on January 26, 2021, relayed to all members of the RCMP in the form of a Commissioners Broadcast. One would have thought on first glimpse that finally there was finally some addressing of the multiple concerns now facing this organization. Had the Chief Executive of your National Police Force finally awoken from her semi-slumber to finally deal with some of the many issues plaguing the boys and girls in red?
Well you would be both right and wrong. You would be right in assuming that there is in fact a new announced strategy. You would be wrong in thinking this was a strategy that was new in terms of goals and or objectives. You could also be right if you paid it little heed and put it in the category of the never ending pablum which continues to spill forth from Ottawa.
There will be a very select few within this vast organization who will be nodding their heads in affirmation of this new “strategy” but we would be equally safe in saying that those that would applaud this new development are not the same people that are working the night shifts in Coquitlam or Burnaby tonight. So what is it?
Is it a strategy to deal with recent gun violence? No.
Is it a strategy to deal with the lack of ability to recruit new members? No.
Is it a strategy to deal with the current salary structure of the RCMP? No.
Rather “today is an important day for the RCMP” because on this date, the RCMP has launched (with the fanfare of an Elon Musk Space X rocket) the “Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy”. If this was not enough excitement, she also announced that this strategy would also be part of the “Vision 150 Agenda”. Most of you will have to admit that you have no idea what Vision 150 is, but apparently this is a good thing so nod your head approvingly.
Not only is this a “new” strategy; but it is a “LIVE” strategy. (Someone will have to explain to me how a strategy takes on the qualities of a human being—but remember that this is coming out of Ottawa –the generator of all acronyms and inanities).
We should also note, that neither the RCMP in general or Ms. Lucki in particular came up with this strategy on their or her own. This is not an original thought. No, they admit, this strategy came from “consultation” with the National Council for Diversity and Inclusion; other Federal employee “networks”; and “policy centers with direct impacts on EDI”. One could cynically translate this to mean that this policy was being pushed down to the Mounties– causing them to now on bended knee genuflect before those very busy gods of correctness.
According to the announcement, “this robust and comprehensive strategy introduces fundamental changes to the RCMP’s systems that will allow us to promote an inclusive organization that values diversity and serves employees and communities with dignity and respect”.
“It also focuses on identifying and reducing workplace and service delivery barriers for Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (believe it or not, even this has an acronym BiPoC) women, persons with disabilities and members of LGBTQ2+ communities”.
It goes on. “The EDI strategy identifies clear, concrete and transparent actions under four “pillars” that will embed equity, diversity and inclusion into the way we think about, and perform all aspects of our mandate.” What are those four pillars you ask:
-Provide Leadership and Governance
-Be Clear, Accountable and Transparent
-Enhance Awareness and Education
-Change Culture and Transform.
You will be forgiven if none of these general life statements mean anything to you. It is the language of LinkedIn resumes, supervisor assessments, or senior RCMP executive speeches. Does anyone remember Mission Statements? This is a similar exercise. It says a lot, but its beauty in its crafting is that it says nothing.
They are going to “review workplace policies and practises through an “EDI, GBA+ and anti-Black racism lens to combat systemic racism”. (Remember when Ms Lucki didn’t’ think there was systemic racism and then within 48 hours recanted—she clearly has now been fully indoctrinated into the cult of goodness)
Even more specifically, there will be more “representation on selection boards” and they will be establishing “talent development plans for occupational groups with low diversity”. They will be “linking EDI goals to Performance, Promotion and Compensation”.
As said before, this will all be aligned with “Vision 150”, a description of which you can find on the government website, that is if you have endless mindless hours and a propensity to like watching paint dry. If you dare to dive down on this government site you will find a Vision 150 “tracker”, which is divided into the four “pillars” once again. Deeper still, you will find a “tracker” for each program that is being initiated.
It is here where you will see most of the proposed programs such as; the increase in body cams, further training in cultural understanding and diversity, a number of programs which involve consultation with the Indigenous and Indigenous women, promotions to advisory boards of various minority representative groups, and oversight programs in the major crime areas. There is even a program designed to hire civilian investigators in the area of financial crimes.
There is an uncomfortable dystopian feel to all this. A new type of Republic of Gilead. The RCMP has even created the ominous sounding position of “Special Designated Officer for Diversity and Inclusion” and named Nadine Huggins as its first leader. Ms. Huggins of course, is “looking forward….to bring a results oriented approach to establishing an inclusive workforce and workplace.”
One could make an educated guess as to the eventual goals of Ms. Huggins with a quick check of her resume. Her masters thesis was entitled: “Canadian Nationhood and the Identity Discourse: Incorporating Minority and other Groups”. In this thesis she refers to the French and English as the “Charter groups” and all others make up the “marginalized”. Her Twitter universe is filled almost entirely with all the requisite black lives matter tweets or tweets on reconciliation and inclusion. The Federal government has always been her home, and all her jobs have a heavy emphasis on Indigenous representation and working at such things as the Taskforce on Diversity and Inclusion. Ms. Huggins fits the woke stereotype and her solutions will be patently obvious and predictable.
None of this is news. These policies of inclusion have been around for decades, although the terminology has changed. Affirmative action to inclusion and diversity, the French and English in this country are no longer the founding nations, now according to Ms. Huggins they are the “Charter groups”. The RCMP have been flying gay pride flags over detachments, holding diversity and inclusion detachment strategy sessions for quite some time. The RCMP in other words have been “awoke” for some time.
Forty years ago, discussions in RCMP management circles were concerned about how physical requirements for admission often precluded those coming from the Asian community. To address this problem height and weight requirements were altered and a point system was developed. The pendulum then swung towards the need to recruit females in the late 1970’s and 1980’s and the physical training was changed to accommodate.
The solutions then were the same as now, greater inclusion and representation which almost always translates to more hiring and promotion. The only difference in this strategy from those of thirty years ago is that the target beneficiary for greater inclusion keeps moving and that marginalized pendulum has now reached its full arc.
One can not argue that the idea of greater representation of the Canadian mosaic in policing is a wrong-headed idea. It is not. The flaw is in the belief that the barriers are “systemic” within the current system. They are not, that is only an easy and convenient simplification. The barriers are much more complicated and broader in scope. Culture, language, education, and economic well being are much greater contributors to a lack of entry and inclusion.
The other blemish in these simplistic academic theories is the fundamental assumption that policing– meaning in its simplest form, the investigation of crime and the enforcement of laws can be bent by a cultural, colour or gender bias.
The conduct of investigations are based on simple concepts and on answering the five w’s. Techniques can change, but ultimately, all investigations follow a practised format based on experience which form a type of checklist. Straying from the orthodoxy would be rare. The checklist is largely unaffected by cultural or ethnic influence.
The creation and passage of laws is done by the duly elected in the various legislatures and the Federal Parliament. They laws are based on a perceived or pre-determined need by those elected representing the citizens at large. It is highly subjective.
However, enforcement of those same laws is objective and should be by its very nature, immune from influence by outside factors.
If these future strategies are aimed at infusing cultural or gender differences into the course of an investigation or imply choices in enforcement of those laws –we are going to find ourselves in a very dangerous neighbourhood.
As this next chapter begins, one must realize that this strategy is a pure, made-in Ottawa “strategy”, and as such it will have little to no impact on the general population of the RCMP involved in day to day operational policing. What it is doing is enshrining for the future years a gender and culture check-list for promotion and advancement. That is already in full swing, so this “strategy” is only serving to codify and legitimize advancement based on factors other than competency.
This is a long bumpy road but is largely an academic exercise being played out by mandarins in the hushed halls and padded conference rooms of the Ottawa cognoscenti. The topic is in the wheelhouse of Commissioner Lucki, fitting nicely into her comfort zone and is likely part of her bid to retain her job. However, it is unlikely to be part of the conversation at one in the morning when uniformed officers are hunched over their 7-11 coffee.
Photo Courtesy of Serge Saint via Flickr Commons – Some Rights Reserved