Trudeau calls video of RCMP tackling Indigenous chief ‘shocking’ and wants answers

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OTTAWA -- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says a new video showing the violent arrest of a prominent chief of a northern Alberta First Nation is "shocking" and he is calling for an independent, transparent investigation to get to the bottom of what happened.

Trudeau says he and all Canadians want answers.

"I think everyone who has seen this video has serious questions about what exactly happened, about how it happened this way and about the use of force that we saw," Trudeau said of the video.

The RCMP dash-camera video was released publicly as part of a court application to get criminal charges against Chief Allan Adam stayed.

It shows an RCMP officer charging at an agitated Adam, tackling him to the ground and punching him in the head.

Trudeau says he knows this is not an isolated incident and that far too many Black Canadians and Indigenous people do not feel safe around police.

"It's unacceptable and as governments we have to change that," he said.

He raised the issue with Canada's premiers during his weekly telephone conversation with them Thursday night, discussing possible solutions such as body cameras for police. Trudeau has also discussed body cameras with RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki.

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said she found the images in the video "incredibly disturbing."

She echoed Trudeau's calls for the investigation into this incident to be independent while also acknowledging that systemic discrimination exists in all institutions in Canada, including within police forces.

"This is a moment in our country when we need to confront the really horrible reality that systemic racism exists here in Canada, anti-Black racism exists in Canada, anti-Indigenous racism exists in Canada. It is systemic," she said.

"We need to acknowledge that, we need to confront that and we need to work really hard together to end that."

Public Safety Minister Bill Blair issued a statement saying Canadians deserve answers about how this particular incident occurred, stressing the critical need for the investigation to come to timely and thorough conclusions.

"We have been clear that we will work with Indigenous partners and communities as well as racialized Canadians to ensure that our agencies serve without bias and with a commitment to justice for everyone."

Maintaining public trust in Canada's police forces requires "rigorous accountability," Blair added.

Teresa Wright, The Canadian Press

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