The RCMP failed in its linguistic obligations during a fatal shooting

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RCMP failed in language obligations during fatal shooting

Ittook 90 minutes for the RCMP to post a first message in French after his alert in English.

There are 14 Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachments in the Yukon. Canada, including Whitehorse, which is bilingual.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) failed in its linguistic obligations in terms of emergency communication during a shooting that killed three in the Yukon, concludes the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages ​​in a preliminary report. x27;survey. It recommends the establishment of a national policy to guarantee communications in both languages ​​in the bilingual divisions of the country.

The purpose of the investigation was to determine whether the RCMP had respected its linguistic obligations under the Official Languages ​​Act and whether it had provided the public with services of equal quality in both official languages, according to the preliminary report obtained by Radio-Canada.

The complaint was based on the fact that the messages published by the RCMP on its social media during the fatal shooting in Faro, in particular to ask people to l'abri, were first published in English and that it took several hours to obtain a complete version in French.

Yukon RCMP tweeted an emergency situation in Faro, asking everyone in the town to get up to speed. shelter.

This is not the first time that the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages ​​has raised issues related to bilingual communications during emergency situations. In 2020, in its report on the impact of emergencies on official languages, it was mentioned in particular a problem of bilingualism during an alert concerning the disappearance of #x27;a child in Thunder Bay, Ontario.

As I pointed out in my report, such incidents have revealed glaring and recurring shortcomings that can have harmful consequences and even put the lives of Canadians in danger, writes Commissioner Raymond Théberge in his preliminary report on the misfires of emergency communication in Faro.

On October 26, 2021, a man opened fire in the community of Faro, more than 350 kilometers northeast of Whitehorse, killing two and injuring one.

The complainant specifically targets the messages published by the RCMP on social media in this case.

On the day of the shooting, a first message was posted on the RCMP's English-language Twitter account at 1:57 p.m., asking the population to take shelter. A second message was posted on this account at 2:29 p.m. to tell the population that the threat was lifted.

A post on the Yukon RCMP Twitter account on October 26, 2021 at 2:29 p.m. indicates that the shelter-in-place order has been lifted. RCMP are advising residents that they can expect a heavy police presence and that more information will be released as soon as possible.

It takes 3:26 p.m. a first message concerning the shooting in the municipality is published on the French twitter account of the RCMP, this one mentioning only that there is a press release in English. The French translation will follow approximately one hour later.

The RCMP has not fulfilled its obligations to ensure that communications of equal quality in both official languages ​​are transmitted to the public, writes the Commissioner of Official Languages, stating that the complaint is well-founded.

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The Yukon RCMP indicated on their French Twitter account on October 26, 2021 at 3:26 p.m. that a translation of their press release would be available soon.

They should have made sure that communications come out in both languages, especially in a security situation, says the executive director of the Association franco-yukonnaise, Isabelle Salesse.

Isabelle Salesse is the director of the Association franco-yukonnaise.

The Association has also filed a complaint for the manner whose communications and alert system were managed during the Faro shooting, ensuring that the alert was only sent in English.

“It's a safety issue. We want to make sure that people understand, but it is also the obligation to respect the law and, in this case, the law has not been respected. »

— Isabelle Salesse, Executive Director of the Association franco-yukonnaise

In the case of Faro, for example, there was a word, I don't remember which, but everyone wondered what that meant, that is to say that we weren't sure if it meant that the killing was going on and if people should continue to stay at home locked up, explains Isabelle Salesse.

The Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages ​​has registered two admissible complaints against the RCMP in the Yukon in relation to communications with the public in October 2021 during a shooting in the municipality of Faro, confirms elsewhere the police station by email.

In its preliminary report, the Office of the Commissioner makes three recommendations to the RCMP, one of which calls for the development of a national directive to ensure that messages posted on the social media of designated bilingual detachments are disseminated in both official languages an equal level of quality.

The RCMP did not respond to requests for comment from Radio-Canada.

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