TORONTO - If Premier Kathleen Wynne thought she had a problem with Black Lives Matter protesters, she hasn’t seen anything yet.
Concerned the premier may have thrown police officers under the bus, Toronto Police Association president Mike McCormack wants answers.
“We 100% think that’s what she did and we want answers,” McCormack said. “But first we have some questions for her based on her media scrum with the Black Lives Matter protesters.”
Those questions stem from several things she told the massive media scrum on the lawn of Queen’s Park Monday.
“I believe we still have systemic racism in our society,” Wynne told the crowd.
The premier responded to a woman’s shouts of “anti-black” systematic “racism” by saying “anti-black, well, yes and beyond.”
McCormack said police officers want to know which provincial department she is referring to.
“Is it her department?” asked McCormack. “Is the racism in another provincial department? Or does she mean the Toronto Police?”
If it’s the police she “is alluding to,” he said, there will be major rejection from officers on the street who “are getting tired” of being called racist as they work hard in a year plagued by alarming violence.
“I guess it’s pretty easy to draw a conclusion who she is talking about since the Black Lives Matter protesters were not protesting government but protesting police and were for weeks at police headquarters,” said McCormack. “But what I want to ask the premier is for her to show us the data that she is referring to when she says we still have systematic racism in our society.”
McCormack was hot when I was talking to him. He said officers were not pleased with any suggestion from a political leader that there is a problem with systematic racism when they have worked to ensure there is not. They understand and expect it from the protesters, but certainly not from the people who oversee policing.
Of course, a lot of this stems from the political decision to end street checks and carding and looking for ways to justify that. It was an interesting comment the premier made and hopefully the opposition benches will broach it.
Certainly, if somebody is alleging there is systematic racism in Ontario, they should be required to prove it. McCormack has every right to call out the premier to explain exactly what she meant.
“We want this clarified,” he said. “If she has data to show there is such a racism problem in policing or any of her departments, then the question I have is what is she doing about it?”
He also wants to know “why did she wait for this to be brought to her attention by Black Lives Matter?”
He added “we are all for making changes to how things are done” but the officers he represents draw the line at any innuendo from leadership that there is a “systematic problem” of racism at the Toronto Police.
“It’s not true and it’s not acceptable to suggest it,” he said.
Premier Wynne was, at least temporarily, able to put out the fire of the Black Lives Matter protest.
It will be interesting to see how she deals with the protest of the Toronto Police Association as a result of her doing that.