Random stops and road safety: Quebec has no study
The Ministry of Public Security has no data on random stops of motorists, which often lead to racial profiling, even though Minister François Bonnardel said Thursday that they were essential to ensure road safety.
Questioned by Liberal MP Jennifer Maccarone, who wanted to know why the government is appealing the recent Quebec Superior Court ruling invalidating the practice, Minister Bonnardel said:
“Why section 636 is important in the work of the police: prevention, road safety, validity of the driver's license, erratic driving possibly with drunk driving.”
He essentially repeated the arguments of the Association of Quebec Police Directors.
However, the Ministry of Public Security (MSP ) told the Journal that he had no documentation or analysis regarding the relationship between road safety and random stops by law enforcement.
“The deputy Ministry of Police Affairs has not located any document covered by your request,” explained the MSP on November 30 in response to our request for access to information.
In his decision handed down at the end of October, Judge Michel Yergeau affirmed that “racial profiling does indeed exist. It is not a laboratory-constructed abstraction. This is not a view of the mind. It is a reality that weighs heavily on black communities.”
He thus ruled that “the rule of law authorizing roadside stops without real reason […] violates the rights guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms”.
The minister acknowledged Thursday that there were “possibilities of racial profiling” and said he wanted to prepare “guidelines”, which will be included in a possible bill, to accompany the work of the police.
Ban requested by ministers
The Anti-Racism Action Group formed by the CAQ government had however itself tabled a report in December 2020 called “Racism in Quebec: Zero Tolerance”, the first recommendation of which was to ban the practice.
“As far as racial profiling is concerned, the bias existing in police arrests because of race appears to be a major issue”, can we read. The report even noted that, despite the efforts of recent years to correct the situation, the problem still persisted.
He concluded: “we must put an end to the racial profiling too often observed during police stops, which means that we must put an end to random police stops”. He proposed to include this prohibition in the code of ethics of police officers.
Minister Lionel Carmant, who was a member of the group, also cited precisely an example of racism he had experienced in connection with a random traffic stop.
The Minister responsible for the Fight against Racism, Christopher Skeete, who was also a member of the action group, no longer hears it that way.
“The concept of traffic stops [is] an essential tool for the police, a tool [which] we do not want to get rid of”, he replied Thursday before adding that he would work with Public Security to supervise the practice.
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