Hope for more changes after judgment on racial profiling in traffic stops

The judgment which invalidates in Quebec the power of the police to arrest motorists without reason has shown the way forward in the fight against racial profiling, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CLAC) said on Wednesday. She believes it gives hope for change across Canada.

On Wednesday, the ACLC took stock of the “major” importance of the decision rendered the day before by Judge Michel Yergeau of the Superior Court of Quebec.

The latter declared that this police practice is “a vector of racial profiling”. Given its discriminatory use against racialized communities, he declared it unconstitutional, since he considers that it contravenes the rights and freedoms protected by the Canadian Charter.

This battle was carried by Joseph-Christopher Luamba, a young black man who was arrested three times by the police in one year while driving a car, without ever receiving a statement of offense. CCLA actively participated in the trial which took place in Montreal in May and June.

“A victory against racial profiling”

« This is a victory against racial profiling for many people, blacks, aboriginals and other racialized people, who for decades have been disproportionately stopped by the police, » said Laura Berger, lawyer and legal advisor to the ACLC.

“This decision represents not only the potential to bring many changes to Quebec, but also to give hope for changes throughout Canada. »

It could have a legal impact on other police practices and other disputes, adds the lawyer.

If the Attorney General of Quebec or the Attorney General of Canada appeals the judgment, the ACLC promises to fight until the end. A Supreme Court of Canada ruling on the matter would have the force of law across the country, said Noa Mendelsohn Aviv, CCLA’s executive director and general counsel.

If other judgments in the past had recognized the existence of racial profiling, that of Judge Yergeau goes much further and is the most important on this subject to date, believes Ms.e Berger, because this is a constitutional challenge to the power of law enforcement, which has been invalidated. She calls the judgment “the most important rendered on racial profiling in her entire career. »

The police power to stop motorists remains, but it cannot be applied without real reasons or without suspicion, solely on the basis of « intuition or [du] flair” of agents. Is there a fear that “patterns” will be invented or fabricated to continue in the same way?

CCLA is aware that any police power carries the possibility that it may be used in a way that has a discriminatory effect.

Judge Yergeau himself said so, recalls Mr.e Berger: He doesn’t expect racial profiling to be eliminated overnight.

But she feels her judgment is definitely a step in the right direction.

To see in video

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