Trio of Canadian politicians call for parliament to examine wellness checks

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Trio of parliamentarians calling for closer look at police wellness checks
WATCH: The request for a study comes after several people of colour were killed by police, including two last month in New Brunswick. Megan Yamoah has more – Jul 8, 2020

A trio of Canadian politicians are calling for a parliamentary examination of police practices surrounding wellness checks.

On Wednesday, Sen. Kim Pate joined Green Party parliamentary leader Elizabeth May and Fredericton Green MP Jenica Atwin at a news conference on Parliament Hill.

The request for a study comes after a number of incidents in which Indigenous and racialized Canadians have died when police officers checked in on someone whose mental health or well-being was of concern, also known as a wellness check.

“Chantel Moore, Regis Korchinski-Paquet, D’Andre Campbell, Ejaz Ahmed Choudhry, and Rodney Levi,” said May, reading the names into the official record of debates for the House of Commons Wednesday.

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The Green Party Leader asked whether it was time to reconsider how so-called wellness checks are carried out via a federal inquiry, while Pate called for an immediate release of a fulsome investigation into the death of Moore as well as others who died at the hands of police.

In April, Campbell, 26, was undergoing a mental health crisis when he was shot by police. Ontario’s police watchdog, the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), said officers arrived at his home in the Chinguacousy Road and Bovaird Drive West area following reports of a domestic incident.

The SIU said two officers used Tasers on D’Andre, and an officer subsequently fired gunshots multiple times, striking him.

D’Andre died at the scene.

Click to play video: 'Family demands answers for ON man killed by police'
Family demands answers for ON man killed by police

Levi was a 48-year-old First Nations man struggling with his mental health. He was killed by police near Miramichi, N.B., on June 12.

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The RCMP said that it had received a call about an “unwanted person” at a home on Boom Road, near Metepenagiag First Nation.

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The Mounties claims that officers were met with a man carrying knives once they arrived on scene, and that several attempts to subdue him with a stun gun failed.

A New Brunswick pastor later said that Levi was a “welcomed guest” at his house the same evening

Korchinski-Paquet was a 29-year-old Black woman from Toronto who died after falling from a 24th-storey balcony while police were at the apartment for a family conflict that had left Korchinski-Paquet in distress.

Choudry, 62,  was shot and killed by police on June 20 as they responded to reports that Choudry, who lived with schizophrenia, wasn’t taking his medication.

When officers arrived, there were concerns the man may have had weapons and he had barricaded himself in his apartment. According to the SIU, police entered through a balcony door, firing plastic projectiles and a Taser before discharging a gun.

Click to play video: 'Living In Colour: The relationship between police and Black communities'
Living In Colour: The relationship between police and Black communities

Moore, 26, was shot and killed by police after officers carried out a wellness check at her residence in Edmundston, N.B., located approximately 275 kilometres north of Fredericton.

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Moore, a member of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation, had only recently moved from Port Alberni, B.C.

Judith Sayers is president of the Nuu-Cha-Nulth Tribal Council, which includes the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation.

Sayers told Global News she wants recommendations from reports to be implemented and followed.

“Figure out what can be done now because it doesn’t need a change in law, it just needs change in policy procedures and training. That’s what we’re looking for,” said Sayers.

Edmundston police said that the officer conducting the wellness check was charged by Moore, who was holding a knife, as soon as the door to her apartment opened.

Members of Moore’s family have said they doubt the police version of events as Moore was a petite woman who they say was not violent.

Moore leaves behind a young daughter.

Click to play video: 'Chantel Moore’s family demands justice & public inquiry'
Chantel Moore’s family demands justice & public inquiry

Fredericton MP Jenica Atwin said on Wednesday that politicians owe it to the victims’ families to get answers.

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“What does it mean when a wellness check is conducted, what are the protocols? I want safety for all and that includes the police officers who are often responding to these wellness checks,” she said.

May agreed that it’s important to get answers.

“The Quebec BEI has said that they won’t have answers for at least a year, the coroner inquests are being postponed until we have answers from the BEI in Quebec, Chantel Moore’s family is desperate for answers,” she said.

Kim Pate says although the Senate is currently in recess there is still much that can be done.

“The Senate committees do have the powers to conduct the sorts of inquiries that Ms. May and others are calling for my hope is that we won’t need that, that action will be taken long before this happens in September.”

Atwin said Wednesday announcement was only the start of their plans.

“We are taking action on this, we’re moving beyond the dialogue and the rhetoric and we are calling for concrete action.”

With files from The Canadian Press


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