Graham Hughes, Globe and Mail, October 7, 2019
The Montreal police force engages in systemic racial profiling that targets Arab, black and Indigenous people, a report by independent academics and commissioned by the city has found.
The standout finding in the report, released on Monday, is that Indigenous women are 11 times more likely than white women to be stopped by Montreal police. Overall, black people are four times more likely to be stopped than a white person, while Indigenous people over all are 4.61 times more likely. Police were twice as likely to stop an Arab person than a white person.
Even the release of the report itself produced an ugly incident of alleged racist exclusion. Montreal police officers blocked Abdelhaq Sari, a city councillor and vice-chair of the board that supervises the police, from attending the event. “If you want to work on racial profiling in this city, you’ve really missed your chance,” Mr. Sari, who is of North African descent, shouted at officers. Lionel Perez, the leader of the opposition in Montreal’s city council, called the incident “an aberration and symptomatic of racial profiling at the Montreal police.” The police declined to comment on the incident.
The report is one of the most exhaustive on the subject of police racial profiling in Canada. The authors compiled data from tens of thousands of incident reports from 2014 to 2017 to find “the existence of systemic bias in the treatment of certain racialized minorities.” In 2018, an Ontario Human Rights Commission report found police were far more likely to kill and injure black people than white people. In 2015, Ontario regulated street checks, also known as carding, amid mounting evidence they were used for racial profiling.
Indigenous and black advocacy groups in Montreal have been demanding action on racial profiling for years. The police force has denied a problem exists.
The report’s authors found the force has no policy on when officers should stop people. Correcting that is the first recommendation.