A new survey suggests a vast majority of Canadians believe the verdict that found former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of the murder of George Floyd was good news.
A jury found Chauvin guilty of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter after he knelt on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes last year.
The survey by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies shows 84 per cent of Canadian respondents reported being satisfied with the court decision.
Leger executive vice-president Christian Bourque said Canadians seem to be optimistic that the verdict will have a positive impact on how policing is done is Canada.
“The data clearly show just how positive Canadians feel about the Derek Chauvin verdict last week, and how they believe it will have an impact on the way police forces actually do their work in the future,” Bourque said.
Seventy-two per cent of respondents say the verdict will help in ensuring police forces are held accountable for their actions in the future, while 15 per cent say the verdict won’t have an impact and five per cent say it will have negative impact, making police officers less accountable.
Bourque said more than half of the respondents say the verdict will create a change of the culture within police forces.
The online poll of 1,548 adult Canadians was conducted April 23 to 25, and the survey cannot be assigned a margin of error because web polls are not considered random samples.
The survey also shows that 68 per cent of respondents believe this guilty verdict will have a positive impact on the training of police officers in general and 38 per cent believe it will help in reducing racial tensions in Canada.
“Where (Canadians) do feel that there is still a lot of work to do is to what extent the Derek Chauvin verdict will have an impact on improving racial tensions in the country,” Bourque said.
“That’s where Canadians are more divided, and probably feel it takes more than that to actually have a positive impact on racial tensions in their communities and in the country.”
The survey also suggests that a vast majority of Canadians support implementing measures to improve police officers’ relations with visible minorities in Canada.
Ninety-three per cent of respondents said police officers wearing a body camera is a good measure, and only three per cent said it’s a bad one.
Eighty-five per cent say police departments should increase training hours for police officers on relations with visible minorities.
Also, 80 per cent of respondents say police officers should be equipped with non-lethal weapons such as taser guns, cayenne pepper sprays or concussion grenades, besides their usual firearm.
On prioritizing the hiring of police offers from visible minorities, 60 per cent of respondents say they see that as a good measure while 19 per cent see it as a bad measure.
The survey included questions about the work every level of government is doing to reduce racial tensions and improve relations with Canada’s visible minorities.
Fifty-six per cent of respondents say they are satisfied with the work Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is doing to improve relations with visible minorities, while 52 per cent are satisfied with their provincial government’s work and 56 per cent are satisfied with their local government’s work.
“We probably would have expected a higher (number) for Justin Trudeau on this question, compared to how people view their provincial government, for example, or their municipality,” Bourque said.
“Because, really, it’s at the centre of who he is, and what he wanted to be as a leader.”
This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.
Maan Alhmidi, The Canadian Press