Quebec appeals ban on random police stops on the road

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Quebec is appealing the ban on random police stops on the road

Quebec Public Security Minister François Bonnardel promises to amend the Police Act and modernize ethics processes to better combat racial profiling, but he defends the usefulness of interceptions without cause in the work of the police.

The Minister of Public Security, François Bonnardel, and his colleague responsible for the Fight against Racism, Christopher Skeete, announced that the government will appeal the decision of the Superior Court which invalidates the article of the Security Code road that allows police to intercept vehicles without cause.

Considering that this judgment deprives the police of important tools for ensuring road safety and fighting crime, Minister Bonnardel believes that it must be preserved while recognizing that racial profiling is a problem that cannot be ignored let alone tolerated within law enforcement.

Section 636 is particularly used by police when intercepting motorists to fight against drunk driving or the interception of individuals whose actions are considered suspicious. However, this discretionary practice is also strongly denounced in certain racialized communities as an instrument of racial profiling.

A reality that does not escape the government, assures Minister Bonnardel.

Although our police forces enjoy the confidence of our government and I want to assure them of our support, we cannot accept the status quo [on racial profiling ], warned the Minister before announcing a modernization of police practices in the face of issues of racial profiling and intervention with the communities most often victims of this practice.

“We consider it unjustified to abolish such an important tool for the police force […], but we believe that there is a way to use it better. »

— François Bonnardel, Quebec Minister of Public Security

The government intends to amend the Police Actto allow the Minister to establish guidelines so that the work of the police is carried out in the absence of discrimination based on race. The government also intends to impose ongoing training and modernize police ethics processes, in particular by making them more accessible to the public.

The Ministère de la Sécurité publique also plans to encourage and fund police forces to develop and experiment with new best and innovative practices to better combat racial and social profiling.

In 2022, it is not normal for a Quebecer to be the victim of racial profiling in our communities, said Minister Christopher Skeete, himself from a visible minority.

Minister Responsible for Anti-Racism, Christopher Skeete.

“We realize that there is a fine line between giving police the tools they need to do their job and the scourge of racial profiling.

—Christopher Skeete, Minister Responsible for Anti-Racism

With the help of my colleague [François Bonnardel], our government will draw the line, declared Mr. Skeete who invited Quebecers to support the process of improving police practices put forward by the government in collaboration with the police forces.

A person who wants to racially profile does not need section 636. A person who wants to do wrong or who is looking for a reason to engage in discriminatory behavior does not need 636, underlined Minister Skeete.

Shortly after, the Sûreté du Québec said it welcomed the decision of the Government of Quebec to appeal the case in the Luamba case. The application of article 636 for SQ agents is important, recalls the police force, in particular to ensure the safety of transport networks.

We will continue our collaboration with the MSP and we intend to participate in the consultation with the Government of Quebec, added Ann Mathieu, coordinator in the dissemination and media relations department of the Sûreté du Québec.

This legal challenge by the Legault government does not surprise Alain Babineau, director of racial profiling and public safety at the Red Coalition, who sees this dispute as a national issue.

We expected it. A little disappointed because Quebec missed a good opportunity to show leadership. At the same time, an appeal will […] possibly confirm the decision at the highest level. We expect it to go all the way to the Supreme Court.

According to Mr. Babineau, the Superior Court judgment clearly demonstrated that section 636 opened the door to the use of implicit tickets that lead to profiling.

For Max Stanley Bazin, president of the Ligue des Noirs du Québec, the fact of appealing a judgment of such quality in a way endorses the bad work that has been done by the police. The Yergeau decision, basically, is a slap in the face of Quebec, it is a foot in the anthill […] which comes to signal that enough is enough.

Believing that the judgment rendered by Judge Michel Yergeau is a masterpiece of writing, Mr. Bazin finds it difficult to see how the government will be able to attack it before the higher courts. The judgment is relatively clear, it includes several facts, several reports whose content has not been denied by government lawyers, he underlines.

Section 636 of the Highway Safety Code is used in particular by the police to intercept drivers whose faculties are impaired by alcohol or drugs.

On October 25, Superior Court Judge Michel Yergeau sent shockwaves through the police community by overturning a case law established by the Supreme Court of Canada 30 years ago by making it illegal to intercept motorists without pattern by a policeman.

However, the interception of vehicles without reason is a practice widely used by several police units specializing in the investigation of organized crime or by patrol officers to collect criminal intelligence or to fight against drunk driving or theft. vehicles.

By overturning the Supreme Court's Ladouceur decision in the case of Joseph-Christopher Luamba, a black student, Judge Yergeau ordered the ban to be applied to all police forces in Quebec within six months of its decision.

In the hours following the judgment, the president of the Association of Quebec Police Directors (ADPQ), Pierre Brochet, had publicly stated that this decision should be challenged in court.

The ADPQ had also expressed concern about the consequences of the judgment on road safety in terms of drunk driving.

Over the past few days, police officers from Deux -Montagnes told Radio-Canada that the four suspects arrested in a vehicle in front of the house of ex-construction magnate Tony Accurso could not have been intercepted when they were suspected of having wanted to start an arson there.

Some actors from the police community even question the ability of the police to set up roadblocks for drunk driving with the #x27;abolition of section 636 of the Highway Safety Code.

With information from Pas cal Robidas

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