But hypocrisy is not limited to federal politicians. Ottawa’s mayor Jim Watson has installed himself as the poster boy for the type of dangerous inaction that lets systemic racism grow and flourish.
You see, at the beginning of the COVID crisis the city of Ottawa clamped down on enforcement of public health rules in an attempt to police its way out of the pandemic. As part of the law enforcement crackdown an Ottawa bylaw officer punched a Black man in the face. The man’s crime? Playing some basketball in a park. At the time of the assault the city’s Bylaw and Regulatory Services department denied “any improper conduct and the characterization of the incident.”
Two months later and on the same day as the #NoPeaceUntilJustice protest, which Mayor Watson attended, it came to light that the bylaw officer did, at least according to the Ottawa Police Service, commit a criminal assault during that COVID ticketing.
Following a criminal complaint by the victim the police investigated and determined that the bylaw officer did trip and punch the Black man, just as he alleged. The assault was even witnessed by two police officers. Later, the bylaw officer confessed to his crime.
But even though the police determined an offence had been committed, there were no criminal charges. The police, against the wishes of the victim, offered the bylaw officer pre-charge diversion. Ottawa police policy states that any candidate to be considered for pre-charge diversion must be “a first-time non-violent offender.”