Canadian Policing: Why and How It Must Change is a comprehensive and critical examination of Canadian policing from its colonial origins to its response to the February 2022 blockades and occupations. Police shootings in June 2020 should dispel any complacency that Canada does not face similar policing problems as the United States, and a vicious circle of overpolicing and underprotection plagues many intersecting disadvantaged groups. Multiple accountability measures — criminal investigations, Charter litigation, complaints, and discipline — have not improved Canadian policing. What is required is more active and proactive governance by the boards, councils, and ministers that are responsible for Canada’s police. Governance should respect law enforcement independence and discretion while rejecting overbroad claims of police operational independence and self-governance.
Even before pandemic-related deficits, the costs of the public police were not sustainable — these budgets require fundamental change without expansion. Such change should include greater service delivery by more expert and cost-effective health, social service, and community agencies. Indigenous police services — unfortunately, Canada’s only chronically and unconstitutionally underfunded police services — can also play a positive role. To that end, Canadian Policing: Why and How It Must Change offers concrete proposals for reforms to the RCMP, use of force policies, better community safety plans, and more democratic policing.