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Rights groups call on Quebec not to appeal ruling on police checks

A group of community organizations representing minorities is calling on the Quebec government not to appeal a recent Superior Court decision against racial profiling by police.
The coalition of groups sent a letter to Public Security Minister Francois Bonnardel Monday asking him to take the lead following a recent decision in favour of a Black man who felt he had been racially profiled by police.
Officers pulled over Joseph-Christopher Luamba 10 times while driving his car in the 18 months after he got his driver's licence.
The 22-year-old filed a lawsuit against the Canadian and Quebec governments, arguing police had violated his rights and that the practice of random police checks was unconstitutional.
Quebec Superior Court judge Michel Yergeau ruled in his favour on Oct. 25, saying it did indeed violate Luamba's rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
"The preponderant evidence shows that over time, the arbitrary power granted to the police to carry out roadside stops without cause has become for some of them a vector, even a safe conduit for racial profiling against the Black community," Yergeau wrote in his ruling.
The judge gave the Quebec government six months to stop the practice.
The government also had 30 days to appeal the decision. That deadline is in two weeks.
The coalition of groups held a news conference Monday calling on the government to not appeal the decision but also to go a step further and return to a previous article of the province's Highway Safety Act, Article 636.
"This morning, essentially, we’re asking the government to go back to the future. In other words, we’re asking the government to go back to way Article 636 was written in 1990. At the time, police officers had to have reasonable motives or reasonable suspicion that a violation of the Highway Safety Act had been violated in order to be allowed to pull the vehicle over. So that is essentially what we are asking, is to go back to that article," said Alain Babineau, director of the Red Coalition.
The groups say this change would not prevent officers from still making random checks during, for example, the holiday season, when they are looking for drivers under the influence.
In addition, they also say that police should have to issue a receipt to every driver they intercept randomly and on that ticket, explain the reason they were stopped as well as the perceived race of the driver.
This would help organizations and police gather the race-based data that they say would help create a clearer picture of who is being stopped and why – and if there is a problem with people of colour being stopped more frequently.
Quebec Premier François Legault and the chief Quebec City police force have said they are against ending random stop checks of Quebecers.

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