Founded in 1983 - United for Diversity and Racial Equality


Montréal, August 25, 2020 - Despite being a step in the right direction, the Quebec Guideline on police street checks contains the same concerning flaws that one finds in the Montreal Police Service’s policy that was released last month.

The following is CRARR’s general position in response to the policy announced by the Quebec Department of Public Security last Friday, at the end of the day:

The provincial Guideline essentially carries no regulatory authority or sanctions for non-compliance. The guideline essentially mirrors the SPVM policy, except where race is concerned. While the SPVM policy refers to the ground of “ethnocultural identity, real or perceived”, the Quebec Guideline refers to “appartenance raciale” (racial belonging) as a factor upon which a stop cannot be based.

Both documents contain elements that are deemed to be counterproductive to the broader goal of ending racial profiling in Montreal and in the rest of Quebec, including the fact that:

• Neither explicitly refers to or prohibit “racial profiling” during vehicle checks made under the Highway Safety Code;

• Both institutionalize, without public debate, the enforcement of municipal by-laws against “incivilities”, which have been disproportionally used in many Canadian and American cities as pretext to stop and fine people of color, youth and residents in low-income areas;

• Both justify a street checks to collect information deemed “in the interest” of policing mission; and

• Both failed to require the collection of race-based data for all stops.

“The Quebec Guideline is a “cut & paste” version of the SPVM policy,” said Alain Babineau, CRARR’s Advisor on racial profiling. “It comes across as a Guide for police officers on how to provide an articulable cause for their street checks if accused of racial profiling,” he added.

“Based on my policing experience, since it carries no sanctions, the provincial Guideline will not be taken seriously by police officers. To combat all forms of profiling, Quebec should develop a provincial regulation under the Quebec Police Act as they did in Ontario, to frame police checks of pedestrians and motorists alike and provide sanctions for its violation,” Babineau noted.

CRARR also deplores the process of adopting the policy without consultation with civil society by the Ministry of Public Security, and releasing the policy ten days before the public consultation to be held by the Public Security Commission of Montreal on the SPVM policy, long scheduled for September 1st.

“Because of its timing, the Quebec policy and the timing of its release take somewhat the steam of out of public participation in the September 1st consultation. However, we encourage the people of Montreal to participate with vigor next week and demand changes to both the SPVM and the Quebec policies that reflect their needs and interests,” Babineau concluded.