Founded in 1983 - United for Diversity and Racial Equality


Montreal, March 21, 2011 --- On the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, CRARR is calling on the Mayor of Montreal to stop using endless legal tactics to prevent the courts from ruling on the merit of racial profiling cases, as the City lost another battle in court last week.

Last Thursday, the Quebec Court of Appeal quickly rejected the argument of the City's lawyer, Pierre-Yves Boisvert, whereby a person found guilty of penal offense cannot file a civil rights complaint to denounce the discriminatory nature of the police action that leads to that offense.

The case dates back to August 2003, when three black youths, including 16 year-old F.F., were sitting on a low fence in front of an apartment building in the St-Michel public housing project, talking with their friends. Two police officers patrolling the area, came over and required them to leave and not to sit on the fence because they obstructed the circulation of “pedestrians” and that there was a risk of falling down. When the youths objected, F.F. and two other black boys immediately received fines worth $85 each for having “used municipal property for a purpose other than that for which it is designated.” The black female youths who were with them were not fined.

On the youths' behalf, CRARR filed civil rights complaints against the officers and in December 2007, the human rights commission ruled in their favor and recommended $10,000 for each of the three youths. Despite the fact that the ticket was deemed to be illegal since the public housing fence on which the youths were sitting was outside the city's jurisdiction, F.F. was found guilty in 2004, having failed to show up in court to contest his fine; it was thus a judgment by default.

When the case was brought by the Commission before the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal, the City presented a motion to declare the case to be outside the Tribunal's jurisdiction since it is, in the City's view, a disguised challenge of the guilty verdict. The Tribunal rejected the City's motion in August 2008; the City filed for a judicial review in Superior Court (instead to appealing to the Quebec Court of Appeal, the normal appellate channel). When the Superior Court dismissed the City's judicial review application in May 2009, the City appealed to the Court of Appeal, which upheld the lower court decision on March 17, 2011.

During the hearing, all three appellate judges did not need to listen to the human rights commission and CRARR's arguments, as they immediately recessed after hearing the City's argument and shortly afterwards issued a ruling from the bench.

In light of the decision, CRARR calls on the Mayor of Montreal to stop using public funds and dilatory legal tactics to attack the human rights commission and frustrate racial profiling victims' efforts to obtain justice. In the last three years, the City has used these tactics in more than a dozen times to prevent the courts from proceeding and and to halt the human rights commission's investigations. For example, the City compelled the commission's chairman to testify - an action unheard of, and taken other legal means to prevent its police officers from being interviewed by commission investigators. As a result, many racial profiling cases at the commission have been unable to proceed.

According CRARR’s counsel Aymar Missakila, “the Court of Appeal decision significantly helps victims of racial profiling and the human rights commission in combating this problem, as it provides a much-needed clarification for other similar cases.”

“What to say when the City spends thousands of dollars to produce banners and hold wine and cheese receptions for the Week of Actions against Racism on the one hand, and on the other hand, it deploys much more money to obstruct civil rights enforcement, perpetuate racial profiling and prevent judicial sanction against this practice?”, said CRARR's Executive Director Fo Niemi.

Consequently, CRARR will this week formally ask the Canadian Commission for UNESCO to expel the City of Montreal from the Canadian Coalition of Municipalities against Racism, a group in which all participating cities must abide by the commitment to combat racism and to promote human rights.


CAQ FF 03-11.doc66.5 KB
CSQ Montréal c. CDPDJ-CRARR 10-09.pdf31.73 KB