Founded in 1983 - United for Diversity and Racial Equality



During the Winter 2011 quarterly period, CRARR opened 54 new files that led to 48 formal interventions. Complaints were or would be filed for 30 persons with the Quebec Human Rights Commission, 3 with the Canadian Human Rights Commission and 2 with the Police Ethics Commissioner.

Twelve (12) other actions were undertaken with other administrative and common-law tribunals. This remains within the average number of files that CRARR opens and acts on annually.

Employment discrimination (including union misrepresentation) and police racial profiling still remained the top two sectors in which CRARR was called upon to intervene, representing 44% and 31% respectively of all new files. Seven files involving discrimination in education were also opened, most involving foreign trained doctors of Arabic backgrounds who encountered problems in their residency. As a result of these issues, they were expelled from medical schools.

Most employment cases involved Arab and Black men as victims while almost 90% of police discrimination cases involved Black males ranging from 15 to the early 60s.

Females constituted 63% of all new clients during this quarterly period. This increase occurred when 12 Filipina live-in caregivers, all of them women, mandated CRARR to assist them following the Quebec human rights commission's mishandling of the caregivers' initial complaint.

Persons aged between 30 and 45 made up 63% of all new clients, followed by those over 45 at 21%. Minors represented 8% of new clients.

Blacks and Asians represented the largest group of clients (46% and 28% respectively), followed by persons of Middle-Eastern backgrounds at 15%. English-speaking people comprised 47% of CRARR's new clients between January and March 2011.

Additionally, CRARR's lawyers provided legal representation to many new clients in separate criminal and civil proceedings in which equality was a key component (these data do not include legal representation for clients with problems not related to discrimination).


A number of settlements were successfully reached for CRARR clients during the Winter 2011 session, bringing a total of more than $30,000 in compensation. Some of these settlements include (note that confidentiality clauses prevent, in some cases, the disclosure of identities):

  • The case of Mr. Brunaud Moise, a Black man who was expelled from the La Ronde amusement center last summer because he wore his Bob Marley T-shirt, which contained images of cannabis leaves;
  • The case of an 18-year old White Concordia University student who was denied a part-time position in a small business due to his age alone, which was raised during the interview;
  • The case of a disabled Québécois man who was frequently harassed by a public housing superintendent and whose requests for repairs and accommodation of his disabilities were often ignored by the landlord;
  • The case of a Chinese woman who was mistreated by her employer to the point where she quit her job.
  • While settlements represent an early dispute settlement procedure that reduces costs, energy and prejudice for both parties in contentious cases, they also point toward a potentially problematic situation where civil rights violations are concerned. Even when these violations occur over a long period of time, and are serious in terms of loss, settlements carry an average price tag of under $5,000. Imbalance of power between the parties is another problematic issue in the early dispute settlement process. Given that in the vast majority of cases respondents are represented by counsel while the complainant or victim acts without assistance, complainants and victims are at a significant disadvantage. Further hampering the equity of the process is the sheer number of cases awaiting mediation by administrative agencies and tribunals. These circumstances prevent mediators or conciliators from devoting more than superficial attention to each case.


    During the first quarter of 2011, several trends were identified based on the files opened at CRARR, many of which concern public civil rights protection agencies. These trends are: discriminatory treatment of foreign-trained doctors during their residencies in French-language hospitals; the unreasonably slow processing times of civil rights complaints and serious procedural and investigatory mistakes committed by the Quebec human rights commission at all stages of the process; and biased mishandling of complaints of race discrimination.

    First, as a result of the Quebec human rights commission's November 2010 report confirming systemic racism in Quebec medical schools' processing of applications for residency from foreign trained doctors, many of these doctors have come forward and decided to take legal action. All of the complainants are of Arabic descent and were trained in either North African countries or in France, except for one Hispanic doctor who was trained in Latin America. All encountered biased treatment during their residencies in French-language hospitals and faced expulsion from their medical training programs as a result. All seven cases involve French-language universities. By March 2011, a $230,000 civil lawsuit was filed by one doctor against one university and another complaint, filed in spring 2011; two other civil rights complaints against the same university were also being prepared by the end of March. It is expected that more lawsuits and complaints will follow.

    The second major file involves Filipina live-in caregivers who were discriminated against and exploited by an immigration consultant and his associates, since at least 2004. With the help of PINAY, a local Filipino women's rights organization, twenty-six women filed a complaint with the Quebec human rights commission in May 2009. It took the Commission 9 months to simply meet with these women and take their declaration of the facts. In addition, it took 7 more months for the Commission to come to the recommendation to dismiss their complaint due to the death of the main respondent and the fact that his personnel agency was not incorporated. However, when CRARR received the mandate to intervene and assist these women, it discovered numerous problems with the investigation, including incomplete fact-finding, misinterpretation of facts, and failure to inform the women of the process and legal options to which they are entitled.

    The problem with the above file points towards the third and more disturbing trend, namely, ineffective, incorrect and biased mishandling of citizens' complaints of civil rights violations within public agencies whose very mandate is the protection of citizens' rights and freedoms:

  • In one “out-of-place” racial profiling case, a Black male in his sixties filed a complaint with the human rights commission against a White female employee of a major law firm and the security service of a commercial building after a late-night incident in an elevator. The man, who worked in an office in the same building, was denied entrance and then pushed from the elevator by the woman who questioned his right to access the premises. For almost 2,5 years after his complaint was filed, the Commission steadfastly refused to name the law firm employee as a respondent, despite the complainant's numerous requests. He also alleged that the Commission did not correctly apply investigative guidelines on racial profiling, and that it decided to dismiss his complaint based on incomplete evidence. Subsequently, he filed for judicial review of the Commission's dismissal of his complaint.

  • In one case, a deaf, senior and indigent Black male filed a complaint with the Police Ethics Commissioner about a police intervention in the social housing building where he lived. The Commissioner never contacted two of the main witnesses and dismissed the complaint. When the man filed for a review of the dismissal with the Police Ethics Committee (a specialized tribunal), the tribunal heard his appeal without a sign language interpreter and dismissed his review application. In the decision, the Committee made no ruling on his main claim that his witnesses were ignored by the Commissioner and made no reference to his deafness. He appealed the decision to the Quebec Superior Court citing the violation of his constitutional right to an interpreter and to the equal protection and the equal benefit of the law, as guaranteed by section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

  • Another appeal was also filed regarding the Police Ethics Commissioner's inadequate handling of a racial profiling claim. Amal Asmar, an Arab Concordia University student, was intercepted by two police officers in downtown Montreal in the wee hours of the morning in winter 2010. She was violently arrested and then fined $1,000 for making a loud noise (she screamed out of pain during the arrest) and for putting her bags on a bench. While the Commissioner upheld most of her police ethics complaint against the officers, he dismissed her racial profiling claim due to lack of evidence. The Commissioner's reasoning fails to apply jurisprudential standards of assessment of evidence of racial profiling, a recurrent issue in complaints brought before him. The Commissioner's decision demonstrates a willingness to rule in favor of police actions, which, in this case, consisted of the issuance of the fines and the excessive amount of the fines.Ultimately, the decision to reject the racial profiling aspect of the complaint reinforces CRARR's long-standing concern that the Police Ethics Commissioner systematically avoids the issue of racial profiling by refusing to adopt guidelines on investigating this practice, and by refusing to apply current and appropriate legal standards defining racial profiling. The Commissioner's decision has been appealed by Ms. Asmar to the Police Ethics Committee.
  • During the winter period, much energy was devoted to addressing many other manifest errors in the handling of race complaints by the Quebec human rights commission, including:

  • After almost 3 years of investigation, the Commission's investigator recommended the dismissal of a complaint of systemic racism in employment in a community residential care center where the workers have been receiving a lower salary than the provincial norm, as compared to other care centers. 75% of the workers were racialized and immigrant women who technically work for a subcontractor, a personnel agency. Despite the clear reference in the original complaint, and in subsequent submissions by CRARR, to discrimination in employment and in subcontracting, the Commission's investigator completely ignored the contracting provision and concluded that there was an absence of an employment relationship between the center and the workers, and reiterated that an employer has the right to set salary scales;

  • In a case involving two Algerian women who were subjected to racial slurs in a department store and then ordered to leave when they confronted the employee (one of the women claimed to have been pushed by the security guard), the Commission's investigator recommended the dismissal of the complaint on the sole basis of the victims' credibility being “gravely and irremediably” tainted. This conclusion was based on a surveillance video submitted by the store that showed no physical contact between the guard and one of the women. However, the video showed images from only 3 of the 16 cameras on the floor, with three gaps totaling 1 min 27 sec of images missing from the sequence. Furthermore, the investigator never requested the floor plan, camera locations and scanning scopes or zooming capabilities before reaching such a determination. The video as submitted by the respondent store was never subjected to forensic analysis. As well, the investigator completely ignored the core element of the complaint, namely, racial slurs made by the employee. The investigation report listed the two Algerian women as being of Moroccan descent;

  • In a public housing case, a Commission's investigator recommended the dismissal of a case of discrimination in which a housing transfer was canceled on the eve of the scheduled move. The tenant, an English-speaking Black single mother with depression, was living with her children in an apartment that was too small according to public housing policy (her teen-age son had to sleep in her bedroom). Her transfer was canceled due to the condition of her apartment, as noted by a public housing inspector who had shown up at her home unannounced. She was subsequently removed from the housing transfer waiting list for almost one year. Several months after the lease transfer cancellation, her two under-age children were removed from her custody by the Director of Youth Protection, in part due to the overcrowded housing situation.

    In recommending the dismissal of the complaint, the Commission's investigator applied the court-rejected “similar situated test” and reasoned that there was no evidence of differential treatment since as a social housing tenant the woman is similarly situated with all other social housing tenants, a finding that contradicts standards of intersecting discrimination. The investigator neither requested nor obtained data from the landlord as to the race, language and civil status of tenants in that area for comparative purposes.

    Finally, the investigator dismissed the claim of mental health issues citing the failure to submit medical evidence, despite the fact that CRARR had submitted the woman's authorization to access her file at the youth protection agency, where her psychological assessment reports were kept in confidentiality.