The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) confirmed Thursday that it is investigating whether one of its officers criticized how the shooting death of Saskatchewan Aboriginal Colton Boushie was distorted as a symbol of alleged anti-Native racism in Canada.
APTN News has reported that a serving RCMP member used a private Facebook page frequented by fellow officers to vent about how the federal government was playing “the race card” in the aftermath of a not-guilty verdict for the farmer who accidentally shot and killed Boushie after the Cree Native and his friends invaded the farmer’s property in 2016.
The unidentified poster’s suggestion that Boushie “got what he deserved” has incensed many. Last week, a jury acquitted farmer Gerald Stanley of second-degree murder charges. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s criticism of the verdict and subsequent suggestion that the justice system has failed Natives apparently prompted the Facebook missive.
“This should never have been allowed to be about race … crimes were committed and a jury found the man not guilty in protecting his home and family,” the poster wrote. “It should be sending a message to the criminal element that this crap is not going to be tolerated and if you value your life then stay away from what isn’t yours.”
The now-deleted message continues, “Too bad the kid died but he got what he deserved. How many of us work on or near reserves and are getting fed up with the race card being used every time someone gets caught breaking the law?”
The criticism has shaken the Trudeau government, with Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale telling reporters Wednesday, “Obviously, this remark is absolutely appalling and unacceptable.”
Goodale insisted that the post “contradicts everything the RCMP stands for. It is unacceptable, so it’s under very, very serious investigation to determine exactly what has happened here and who is responsible for it.”
An RCMP spokeswoman called the post “antithetical to the standards of the RCMP.”
“The Facebook group cited is not managed or administered by the RCMP. Regardless, when concerns about disrespectful content believed to be written by an RCMP employee are brought forward, they are and will be investigated and addressed,” Staff Sgt. Tania Vaughan told CBC News. She suggested that the RCMP is just as concerned with implementing political policies as it is with enforcing the law.
“The RCMP is committed to the reconciliation process with Indigenous peoples, and improving upon these relationships in every way possible.”