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CDN/NDG Coalition launches petition against profiling

By Joel Ceausu The Suburban, Dec 8, 2021
“Racial profiling can make you feel anxious, nervous, emotional, humiliated, ashamed, embarrassed, vulnerable, inadequate, judged, angry, not-worthy, unstable and uneasy.”

A coalition dedicated to fighting systemic discrimination and racial profiling has launched a federal e-petition challenging Montreal’s largest borough to act quickly.
The Red Coalition, founded by NDG resident Joel DeBellefeuille, says CDN-NDG is in breach of the Montreal charter of rights and responsibilities by not having an action plan in place to fight the scourge of racial profiling by law enforcement.
In a letter to Mayor Gracia Kasoki Katahwa, DeBellefeuille – who made national headlines for his decade-long successful battle with the city of Longueuil and its police department after he was repeatedly stopped for “driving while black” – says Montreal’s action plan is not adequate for all 19 boroughs as each one has its own distinct demographic and challenges.

“Remember the game when you were a kid, broken telephone? — by the time it gets to number 10, it’s no longer relevant” he told The Suburban, adding there are some jurisdictions with particular by-laws that affect people of colour disproportionately based on population, density and more.
“It has to be custom;,it has to be local,” he says. “We can’t expect borough mayors to create an across-the-board plan properly,” recalling Outremont may have less issues with profiling as it “has only 9.7% visible minorities compared to CDN-NDG with 46.8%, or 11.5% for towns like Baie-D’Urfé. “It’s imperative that CDN-NDG put pen to paper and develop a plan that actually fits the borough while implementing Montreal’s action plan in tandem.
DeBellefeuille, who has previously employed the city charter to force local administrations to act on emergency repairs on social housing and park maintenance, says contrary to Article 16 requirements, the borough currently has no action plan to combat discrimination, racial profiling, xenophobia and more. Further, he says the loss of a police station in its western half is a contributing factor to over-policing of impoverished districts with a high concentration of diverse ethnic backgrounds. (A 2019 study showed, among other things, that black people make up 9.5% of the island’s population, but are subject to a quarter of all police stops.)

The Suburban asked Mayor Katahwa about the campaign. The fight against systemic racism and discrimination is a priority for her administration, she said, adding that “the city will follow through on the 38 recommendations put forward by the Office de consultation publique de Montréal report on systemic racism and discrimination and has hired a commissioner (Bochra Manai) on the issue to ensure the implementation of the recommendations. At the borough level, we plan to work with our local partners, including the local police station to ensure that the city’s anti-racism strategy is respected, taking into consideration the specificities of Côte-des Neiges-Notre Dame Grâce.”
The petition to the House of Commons is sponsored by NDP MP Matthew Green and endorsed by Liberal MP Greg Fergus and asks the Minister of Public Safety to enact legislation requiring all law enforcement agencies to have established and maintained adequate policies and procedures designed to eliminate racial profiling in order to qualify for funding under any transfer payment program.
“Before they receive federal funding budgets, they must have an action plan in place,” says DeBellefeuille, who doesn’t think the issue of stepping on provincial jurisdiction or selling the idea on a national scale is particularly problematic. “Quebec Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault just announced $930,000 to fight it,” he says, “so they accept that it exists, they accept that it’s a problem, they accept that it needs to be addressed, and they’re doing something about it. So it makes no sense why any jurisdiction would object to it. Why would law enforcement agencies refuse to get on board?”
DeBellefeuille cited the Service de police de l’agglomération de Longueuil (SPAL) as having done the hard work, forced to do so actually, after his highly publicized and historic case which led to a 66-page ruling by the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal and launch of the RESO and Immersion programs by the SPAL to combat systemic racism and racial profiling, and collect race-based data on all interventions with people of colour.
View the petition at https://petitions.ourcommons.ca/en/Petition/Details?Petition=e-3668

 

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