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Political Science Law Enforcement

Crisis in Canada's Policing

Why change is so hard, and how we can get real reform in our police forces

by (author) John Sewell

with Christopher J. Williams

James Lorimer & Company Ltd., Publishers
Initial publish date
Sep 2021
Law Enforcement, Post-Confederation (1867-), General, Discrimination & Race Relations, Criminology, General
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2021
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    Publish Date
    Sep 2021
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In the summer of 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic surged, millions gathered across Canada and the United States to protest violence and racism in policing sparked by the murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers. In the days and weeks following, the deaths of Regis Korchinski-Paquet in Toronto and Chantel Moore in New Brunswick showed that police violence is also a Canadian reality. Although BIPOC communities and activists had been calling for action for years, these events sparked unprecedented public outrage and drew crowds in the thousands across Canada calling for the defunding of Canada’s police.

Many authoritative reports have identified big problems in Canada’s law enforcement system and have concluded that police are more likely to create or escalate violent situations than promote safety and security. Why? How has an institution tasked with keeping citizens safe become so dangerous to so many Canadians?

John Sewell has been studying the problems facing Canadian policing since the 1980s. In Crisis in Canada's Policing, he shines light on the origins of police culture, synthesizes dozens of reports that reveal the failures of the police system in Canada and offers solutions that put power back into the hands of community leaders while reining in and reforming police organizations.

About the authors

JOHN SEWELL served as an alderman on Toronto City Council during the 1970s and was mayor of Toronto from 1978 to 1980. He chaired the Metro Toronto Housing Authority from 1986 to 1988 and the Commission on Planning and Development Reform in Ontario from 1991 to 1993. Sewell wrote an urban affairs column for The Globe and Mail from 1984 to 1986, currently writes for Now, a Toronto weekly, and is the author of Up Against City Hall, Police: Urban Policing in Canada, and the recently published The Shape of the City: Toronto Struggles with Modern Planning.

John Sewell's profile page

CHRISTOPHER J. WILLIAMS is a researcher and educator in the fields of sociology and criminology who has taught at York University, Brock University and the University of Western Ontario. His published academic work has been featured in journals such as Race & Class, Canadian Ethnic Studies, Housing Studies and the African Geographical Review. His first book, Boomerang Ethics: How Racism Affects Us All, was published in 2017 and co-authored with Professor Joseph Mensah of York University. Additionally, at the level of grassroots activism, he has worked with a variety of Toronto-based organizations dedicated to addressing issues pertaining to how police power is exercised against marginalized communities and is currently a member of the Toronto Police Accountability Coalition. He lives in Toronto.

Christopher J. Williams' profile page

Editorial Reviews

"...Following the murder of George Floyd...the door to real, tangible change has opened. After decades of denial — and the dismissal of policing critics like Sewell as pie-in-the-sky radicals — some parts of society now seem willing to confront the problem head‑on."

Literary Review of Canada

Other titles by John Sewell

Other titles by Christopher J. Williams