News / Ottawa

Ottawa police shouldn’t investigate Nunavut RCMP: MLA

Racist remarks in Annie Pootoogook death show agreement should be terminated, says former Nunavut justice minister Paul Okalik.

Former Nunavut justice minister Paul Okalik says an Ottawa police sergeant’s racist remarks after the death of Inuk artist Annie Pootoogook show the capital’s force cannot be trusted to investigate the territory’s Mounties.

Mark Aspland/For Torstar News Service

Former Nunavut justice minister Paul Okalik says an Ottawa police sergeant’s racist remarks after the death of Inuk artist Annie Pootoogook show the capital’s force cannot be trusted to investigate the territory’s Mounties.

A Nunavut politician is calling for an end to a contract that sees Ottawa police investigate his territory’s RCMP officers in cases of potential wrongdoing.

Former Nunavut justice minister Paul Okalik says an Ottawa police sergeant’s racist remarks after the death of Inuk artist Annie Pootoogook show the capital’s force cannot be trusted to investigate the territory’s Mounties.

“It is very troubling to have a senior member of that force have such derogatory views towards a majority of the population here in Nunavut,” Okalik said. “I would like to have the agreement with the Ottawa police terminated.”

Insp. Jamie Dunlop, who oversees the training of Ottawa officers who perform those investigations, disagrees.

“I have every confidence in the ability of the Ottawa police officers that go up there when required to conduct full, frank and independent investigations,” said Dunlop.

“We have a 2,000-member police service here and the (racist) comments made do not reflect the values of the Ottawa police as an organization, nor do they reflect the values of the individuals that work here.”

The agreement between the Ottawa police and the Nunavut RCMP has been in place since 2012 and has resulted in 14 investigations, said Dunlop. Of those 14, two have resulted in charges being laid against police.

Dunlop acknowledged the public might have questions about police forces investigating each other. In Ontario, the Special Investigations Unit – an arm’s length, civilian agency – carries out investigations involving police where there has been a death, serious injury or allegations of sexual assault. Dunlop says it’s up to Nunavut to create its own similar oversight agency.

Former SIU director Ian Scott says an independent, civilian agency would ease his concerns with the current arrangement between Ottawa police and Nunavut RCMP.

“It’s the most minor form of oversight to have one police service conducting investigations of another police service,” said Scott. “(Nunavut) should really be aiming towards a much more independent body.”

Dunlop said there is currently no plan to end the agreement between Ottawa police and Nunavut RCMP.

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