Founded in 1983 - United for Diversity and Racial Equality


Montreal, June 9, 2010 ---In an open letter addressed to Mr. Gerald Tremblay, Mayor of Montreal; Ms. Louise Harel, leader of the Official Opposition at City Hall and Mr. Richard Bergeron, leader of the second Opposition party Projet Montréal, CRARR has joined other major community organizations in Quebec to ask for reforms to the process of selecting the city's next police chief.

Below is the unofficial English version of the letter:

As you know, the current Montreal chief of police, Yvan Delorme, announced his departure in September 2010, five years after taking office.

During these five years, relations between the police and the Montreal general public were marked by serious tensions and criticisms, notably from the UN Committee of Human Rights in October 2005. Among the incidents that caught our attention the most were the fatal police intervention in Montreal North in 2008 and the ensuing riot; the use of lethal taser guns; the police union's use of legal tactics to prevent the Coroner’s Office from holding a public inquiry into the case of Mohamed-Anas Bennis; the legal measures employed by the City of Montreal’s lawyers, at the expense of taxpayers, to thwart the work of both the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission and the Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR); the adoption without public debate and the negative impact of the “incivilities” and zero tolerance policies; the recent release of a warning against social profiling by the human rights commission and the hundreds of discrimination and racial profiling complaints that have been filed through various advocacy organizations for human rights in Montreal. These facts lead us to ask serious questions about Montreal's orientations and standards that should adopted in the coming years. Inevitably, this requires us to demand a new process of selecting the next Montreal chief of police.

This new process should be guided by respect for civil rights and the principles of transparency, accountability, citizen participation and inclusion. Like other cities in North America, including Toronto, Seattle, New Orleans, Albany, Greensboro and Seaside, it is essential that Montreal’s City Council holds public consultations and debates on the profile of the next chief of police and his required competencies, characteristics, knowledge, vision and sensibility, prior to any final selection.

We therefore feel it is fundamental that in this new decade, municipal public security should not be discussed secretly, and that political decisions and measures relating to the police, including the choice of the future chief, no longer be adopted without public discussion, consultation and evaluation.

Moreover, given the gravity of some of the decisions, we ask that you ensure greater transparency with regards to the work of the various public safety agencies, beginning with the Montreal Public Security Commission.

Pierre Gaudreau, d’aide aux personnes seules et itinérantes de Montréal (RAPSIM)

Dominique Peschard, Quebec Civil Liberties Union

Niemi, Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR)

Elizabeth Garant, Centre justice et foi

Stephan Reichhold, Table de concertation des organismes au service des personnes réfugiées et immigrantes (TCRI)