Fondé en 1983 --Unis pour la diversité et l'égalité raciale


Montreal, December 11, 2009 --- Another court decision has put a dent in the City's multiple procedural attempts to prevent racial profiling cases against it from proceeding before the courts.

On December 10, 2009, the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal ruled in favor of the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission’s motion to quash a subpoena issued by the City of Montreal to Commission Cresident Gaétan Cousineau in a CRARR-supported case of racial profiling. The City had wanted to interrogate the President about the delay in the Commission’s investigation of CRARR’s complaint.

The complaint was filed in 2003 on behalf of an Arab girl and her mother who were detained and mistreated by the Montreal police in a public housing project where they lived. In December 2007, the Commission ruled that both were victims of racial profiling and abusive police interventions, and recommended $17,000 in moral and punitive damages for the two. The Commission also awarded $30,000 to three other Black youths who were also singled out by the police for discriminatory treatments in the area, around the same time.

Since then, the City has embarked in a series of procedural tactics to delay and prevent full judicial examination of the merits of the cases, including full-scale attacks on the human rights commission's powers and the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms.

In these cases alone, it has introduced over 3 years no less than 6 legal actions before the Human Rights Tribunal, the Superior Court and the Court of Appeal, on grounds such as delays, prescription and tribunal jurisdiction to hear the cases. Each time, the City lost but kept appealing, preventing the Commission, CRARR and the victims from being heard on the merits. Its latest salvo is to seek and obtain leave to appeal a decision to the Court of Appeal in one of the three cases.

In the present case, the Tribunal ruled that although the law does in some circumstances allow Commission’s staff to be cross-examined, the City has not raised arguments of procedural problems that would prevent it from obtaining a full and fair defense and that would justify the subpoena to the Commission’s president. Consequently, the Tribunal ruled that the City could still examine Commission’s staff during the regular hearings and nullified the subpoena.

To read the decision (in French only):