Opinion: O’Toole should target RCMP for defunding

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Because the fact is that money spent on Canada’s national police agency is money that is better spent elsewhere.

Says Alex Vitale, the professor of sociology at Brooklyn College whose work has become required reading for those trying to understand the movement to abolish police forces: “When people say they want police, they’re saying they want fewer problems.” The trouble is, law enforcement officers don’t actually solve these problems — at best, as Derecka Purnell and Marbre Stahly-Butts put it in The New York Times last year, “They can only temporarily manage (them) with punishment and more violence.”

The RCMP, after all, came into existence to enforce racist government policies and to keep Indigenous and other minority populations in check. That’s why the force assisted, historically, in the displacement of Canada’s First Nations from their land; and broke families apart to bring Indigenous children to residential schools. And it’s also why, today, the force disproportionately commits violence against Indigenous Canadians. As Reuters reported, between 2007—2017 “Indigenous people accounted for more than a third of people shot to death by RCMP officers, despite numbering just five per cent of the population.”

The most racially and economically privileged Canadians already benefit from communities that are, in effect, police-free. What keeps them safe is not the watchful eye of law enforcement, but, instead, the strong social infrastructure they take advantage of on a daily basis — likely without even noticing it. They have ready access to competent therapists, quality mentors for their children, and the ability to commute long distances to find work. When experiencing distress, they might seek guidance from a local minister. But the police are unlikely to appear and shoot them when they do, as happened to Rodney Levi, an Indigenous man whom RCMP killed in June for the “crime” of obtaining assistance from a New Brunswick pastor.



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