Founded in 1983 - United for Diversity and Racial Equality


Montreal, September 27, 2010 --- The Quebec Human Rights Tribunal has awarded $8,000 in damages to a Black inspector of the Montreal Transit Corporation (MTC) who was called the N-word by a driver of a towing company.

This is one of the first civil rights decisions in Quebec, if not the first, that addresses the issue of race bias from members of the public encountered by Black law enforcement officials in their line of duty.

In 2007, Insp. William Greer intercepted tow truck driver Daniel McCluskey for stopping his vehicle in a bus-reserved lane outside the Lasalle metro station. When Mr. Greer, accompanied by a white partner, asked for the driver's ID with a view to issuing a fine, Mr. McCluskey refused to give the information and told both inspectors to call the “real police.” Two police officers intervened and ordered the driver to produce his ID. Only then did the latter comply. Mr. Greer then gave him two fines: one for illegally parking in an area reserved for bus circulation and another for refusal to comply with the order to produce identification. As Mr. Greer was writing the tickets, Mr. McCluskey told him in front of others that “you're going to lose your job, damn N. (calisse de n-).”

Deeply offended and humiliated, Mr. Greer calmly handed the tickets to Mr. McCluskey and explained how to contest them. Mr. McCluskey grabbed the tickets, threw them onto the floor of his truck and drove away. Days after the incident, Mr. Greer was still affected by this public humiliation.

In a complaint filed on Mr. Greer's behalf with the human rights commission, CRARR argued that “a rigorous sanction of this reprehensible racially offensive conduct will help protect minority law enforcement officers' standing within their law enforcement services and the community at large, and make these officers first-class and equal law enforcers.” CRARR claimed $7,500 in moral damages and $2,500 in punitive damages from the driver and his employer, Remorquage Sud-Ouest. It also asked the company to adopt an antiracism policy in its customer services.

In a decision transmitted to the parties in late 2009, the Commission required the company and the driver to pay Mr. Greer $7,500 in moral damages, and the driver to pay an additional $2,000 in punitive damages. It also ordered the company to adopt an anti-discrimination policy. The case before the Tribunal was delayed due to the driver and the company's refusal to comply and their appearance in court without legal counsel.

In its decision dated September 16, 2010 (see attached), the Tribunal also stressed that the driver's defense of anger to justify his racially discriminatory conduct cannot be accepted. Rather, anger coupled with discrimination has a more negative and aggravating effect on the victim.

“This is not just about the use of the N-word to insult a Black person in public, but also, about the public denigration of a law-enforcement officer's authority and dignity because of his race, in front of his white colleague and other police officers,” said Fo Niemi, CRARR's Executive Director, who acts as spokesperson for Mr. Greer.

”In this regard, Mr. Greer is happy to see both his personal dignity and his professional integrity restored,” he added.

”We hope that the case will create jurisprudence where the difficult working conditions of Black law enforcers in Canada are concerned, since in the minds of many, Black people cannot be in positions of authority,” said Aymar Missakila, CRARR's lawyer who pleaded the case with the human rights commission's lawyer.

Read the Decision (in French only):

See also: