March 18, 2022
An Ottawa police officer who was caught on video saying the “white man’s day is done” and encouraging his son to find an Asian girlfriend has been charged with multiple disciplinary offences under the Police Services Act.
Const. Paul Heffler was captured on video making the comments in June 2019. The video began circulating on social media in April 2021.
Heffler was one of three Ottawa police officers seen and heard in the security camera video that went viral after it was posted online. The officers, who were on duty and in uniform, were standing in a private garage while waiting to serve a warrant.
During their conversation, Heffler is heard paraphrasing someone whose name is inaudible, saying: “Our days are done. White man’s day is done.”
Another officer responds in agreement: “He’s probably right.”
“We’re the minority, I think, at this point,” Heffler continues.
Another officer agrees: “If you put all the different groups together.”
Heffler then goes on to discuss interracial relationships.
“You go to Toronto, and every couple you see walking by is a mixed couple. You don’t see white and white people together. It’s white [and] Asian, white [and] East Indian,” he says.
“I told my son he can find a Chinese, Asian girlfriend,” he continues. “If he wants to stay in the mix, get your foot in the door.”
Facing 4 charges under Police Services Act
At the time the video became widely public, the police board and others in the community condemned it as racist. Heffler previously told CBC News that his words were taken out of context and he was trying to talk about population demographics.
Heffler faces three counts of discreditable conduct and one count of insubordination under the Police Services Act.
He has not yet entered a plea. When reached for comment, the officer said: “Truth is like the sun. You can shut it out for a bit, but it isn’t going away.”
According to the notice of his hearing, police allege that Heffler “used inappropriate and offensive language while on duty” on June 9, 2019. The other three charges are unrelated to the video or the officer’s comments in it.
Police also allege that in February 2021, Heffler “concluded two separate criminal investigations in an inappropriate and unprofessional manner.”
Professional standards investigators further allege that once in February 2021 and once in November 2021, Heffler sent “inappropriate and unprofessional” emails to the entire force on its master distribution email list.
In the November incident, police allege he also sent emails to the chief of police and to another member of the Ottawa Police Service.
In one of those emails, previously obtained by CBC News, Heffler asked now-former police chief Peter Sloly — in a mass email to all officers — about allegations of reprisals made by the spouse of one of the police employees who came forward with allegations of sexual harassment against now-resigned deputy chief Uday Jaswal.
Heffler sent a reply-all email asking the police chief whether it was doublespeak to commit to changing the organization while also “charging the spouse of one of the alleged victims with seemingly trumped up [disciplinary] charges.”
Sloly resigned on Feb. 15 in the wake of his handling of the convoy protest, while Jaswal resigned just nine days later before his own disciplinary hearing for those alleged offences heard any evidence.
Ottawa police subsequently limited when officers can use the master distribution email list. The current process involves getting approval from a higher-ranking supervisor before an email lands in the inbox of every police employee.
None of the allegations against Heffler has yet been tested.