Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he commends Black Lives Matter and indigenous activists for pushing his government on issues of discrimination in the justice system.
In a wide-ranging interview that aired Monday on CTV's "Your Morning," host Ben Mulroney asked the prime minister about the over-representation of indigenous people in Canada's prisons and of black men who are more frequently stopped by police than those who are white.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is shown with CTV's Ben Mulroney. (Photo: Your Morning/Twitter)
Mulroney said Manitoba imprisons "a higher proportion of its indigenous population than apartheid South Africa did its black population." He added that an aboriginal boy in the province is more likely to be incarcerated than graduate high school.
Drawing from a 2010 Toronto Star investigation, Mulroney said a black man between the age of 15-24 is 2.5 times more likely to be stopped by police than a white man of the same age. The Star report examined six years of carding data from Toronto police.
"Do we have a problem with racially-biased policing in Canada?" Mulroney asked.
Trudeau conceded there are "real challenges" in the justice system that must be addressed.
"I congratulate people who keep calling and challenging us — whether it's Black Lives Matter or indigenous activists — saying we need to do more, we need to do better. We agree. I agree."
— Prime Minister Trudeau
"But a lot of them, when you look at the root causes, have to do with education and opportunities and investment in those communities," he said. "Proper mentorship… properly moving beyond the discrimination that still does exist."
Trudeau said his government aims to tackle such challenges in a "thoughtful, broad way."
"I congratulate people who keep calling and challenging us — whether it's Black Lives Matter or indigenous activists — saying we need to do more, we need to do better," Trudeau said. "We agree. I agree. And that's what we're very much working on."
Trudeau marched in Toronto's Pride parade last month. The event was disrupted for roughly 30 minutes by a sit-in led by Black Lives Matter Toronto.
Watch Trudeau's full interview with Mulroney below. The conversation on racial issues in the justice system begins at the 2:52 mark.
Earlier this year, Canada's prison watchdog unveiled that indigenous people represent more than 25 per cent of federal inmates, despite comprising 4.3 per cent of Canada's population.
Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould — an indigenous leader herself — called the figure "totally unacceptable" in a keynote address to the Canadian Bar Association this month.
Wilson-Raybould's mandate letter from Trudeau calls for her to conduct a review of the criminal justice system to, among other things, "reduce the rate of incarceration amongst indigenous Canadians."