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HRP and RCMP say ‘not yet’ to Board of Police Commissioners apology request 

To do so now would be “disingenuous”

The Board of Police Commissioners meets monthly at City Hall. - CAORA MCKENNA
  • The Board of Police Commissioners meets monthly at City Hall.
  • CAORA MCKENNA

Slow and steady appears to be the tactic taken by those in power since Scot Wortley's street check report was released in March. At Monday's Board of Police Commissioners meeting, interim police chief Robin McNeil explained why the HRP won't be apologizing just yet for the harm caused by street checks, saying it would be "disingenuous" to apologize at this time. An apology was requested by the Board of Police Commissioners at its last meeting.

McNeil says the conversation is about much more than street checks, and reiterated HRP's stance that organizational apologies are complex. Halifax RCMP inspector Robert Doyle also said in a letter to the board that a formal apology would be—buzzword—disingenuous, and disrupt efforts to create lasting change.

Commissioner and District 8 councillor Lindell Smith says apologizing would establish some ownership of the issue to the community, and also offer the feeling the police force recognizes there is some ownership that needs to take place. If there's no apology, Smith hopes there is "at least acknowledging, truly, that this relationship has been hurtful to a specific population." He maintains he's hopeful that an apology will come eventually.

Hoping to clear up the way forward for the HRP, RCMP and the province, chair of the commission and district 15 councillor Steve Craig brought forward a motion asking for a separate inquiry into the legality of street checks themselves from the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission following a recommendation from the Wortley report.

The commission has requested the NSHRC look at the legality versus the municipal solicitor—which would be standard practice—who Craig says "in my mind, isn't really independent review."

Many, including justice minister Mark Furey and former police chief Jean-Michel Blais, have said that street checks when used correctly are an effective and useful policing tool. Others, like commissioner Carlos Beals, argue that "when you target a specific group of people based on the colour of their skin and are allocating resources to monitoring and surveillance of said group of people, that is discriminatory and that's illegal," as he said at the board's last meeting. He didn't support Craig's motion, questioning how much longer it would take for another report to come from the NSHRC.

While the province's working group slogs toward regulation of the practice, those calling for a ban—like the youth who walked out of the group, saying helping to regulate the practice "counteracted with our beliefs and the communities' beliefs in relation to street checks"—buckle up for the long haul.

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