For Media Inquiries & Assistance Please Call: 1-800.735.4086

Quebec Highway Code article 636 hotly debated in CDN

Ever heard of Article 636 of the Highway Safety Code? Not likely, unless you fought a ticket, heard a cop use it to justify pulling you over, or have been involved in what seems like an increasing number of similar racial profiling cases throughout Quebec.

On October 25, Superior Court Justice Michel Yergeau ruled that law enforcement in Quebec could no longer randomly pull over drivers without reasonable and probable cause, noting that using article 636 leads to police officers conducting racial profiling. This historical case has come to be known as the Luamba Decision. The Legault government immediately announced it would appeal the ruling, citing 636 as an important tool for law enforcement to combat crime.
So what's the problem with 636?
A panel discussion in Côte des Neiges organized by the Red Coalition and Black Community Resource Centre dove into the issue. Coalition racial profiling director and retired RCMP Staff Sergeant Alain Babineau said the original scope of 636 demanded police officers needed reasonable belief an offence was committed to stop a vehicle. After a Supreme Court ruling, it was expanded to allow cops to check for Highway Code infractions and sobriety, but a 1991 change in the law gave them even more leeway, “essentially giving carte blanche to police to pull over drivers.”
“But the Luamba decision says such stops cannot be justified in a free and democratic society, given its impact on black people.”
Babineau noted Laval Police Director Pierre Brochet declined and Minister Responsible for the Fight Against Racism Christopher Skeete was not available to contribute. Vice-chair of Montreal's Public Safety Commission and Ensemble Montreal councillor Abdelhaq Sari agreed to attend but did not.
Laurier-Dorion MNA Andrés Fontecilla says “the CAQ sided with police and sent a very bad signal to society that racial profiling is acceptable,” appealing Luamba in the particular context of the city’s response to armed violence problems. “It's the dragnet theory. Throw out a wide net and catch 100 people to find one criminal.”

Everyone knows the problem with racial profiling, except the Quebec government scoffed noted civil rights layer Julius Grey. “Instead, they react with slogans. It's a reality not only in Quebec, but across North America, even where there are many black police officers…. First of all, in Montreal, the police force doesn't reflect the population and fewer and fewer officers see the importance of speaking the two main languages of the population it serves,” despite linguistic guarantees. “They refuse to recognize that reality.”
“Then we have to ask ourselves if 636 is a neutral article, then why would the government want the power to use it without any motives? What's next? Does that mean they can listen to our phone conversations without any motive? Come into our homes? Why is stopping someone randomly a necessary weapon in fighting crime?” Grey says it allows police themselves “to look for crime in categories of people and situations that they decide would likely yield results. That is nonsense.”
He said class action lawsuits are a good response. “When police realize they have to pay, not only the directors and those responsible, but every single officer, that may have a significant effect.” When a clear majority is comfortable with this type of behavior, says Grey, “it’s “the courts more than the legislature who step in,” citing the fight to end racial segregation in the United States.
“The ruling was crystal clear for me” said BCRC board chair Yvonne Sam. “Society cannot wait for part of the population to continue to suffer under the rule of law as police do not respect fundamental rights… It's not an abstraction and it weighs heavily in black communities and manifests particularly on black drivers, is what the judge confirmed.” She's confident that if the appeal reaches the Supreme Court, “we’ll see a victory for all black people, whether we have a car, walk or take a bike.”
For his part, Coalition executive director Joel DeBellefeuille quoted his own 2012 case where the prosecutor said “police were entitled to stop an Asian man driving a car registered to a woman named Claudine. That was 11 years ago in one case that I fought and won. Can you imagine how many thousands of cases have been based on this type of reasoning?” Babineau says “contrary to popular opinion, most cops are honest. And if I could do it again, I would. It's a great career,” adding there is a need for more racialized officers. “But there are many limitations on how many people from those backgrounds get into police studies” he says, and that's due to systemic racism.
“Racial profiling won't be eradicated in my lifetime. Sadly. But we have two choices: Go home and accept it or fight like hell. I say fight like hell, file that complaint, whatever becomes of it, at least for the data. Maybe it will change the behavior of the individual officer, because believe me, when they are called into an ethics commission hearing, it weighs on them. You can make a dent. And it's worth it.”



Family of Montreal man killed while unlawfully jailed wants systemic racism inquiryLa famille de l’homme demande une enquête sur le racisme systémiqueSystemic racism inquiry called for by family of man who died after being pepper-sprayed at Bordeaux prisonDétenu mort à la prison de Bordeaux: une coalition exige plus de transparence sur le milieu carcéralUN GROUPE ANTIRACISTE RÉCLAME UNE ENQUÊTE PUBLIQUE SUR LA MORT DU DÉTENU DE BORDEAUXRights group seeks public inquiry into death of man in Montreal jailLobby group seeks public inquiry in Montreal man's jail deathAnti-racism group calls for release of video in connection with Montreal jail deathCivil rights group calls for inquiry into death of illegally jailed 21-year-old black manUne coalition réclame la publication de la vidéo de l’interventionLobby group seeks public inquiry, release of video in Montreal man’s jail deathAnti-racism group claims Quebec told Longueuil police to ignore court order on racial profilingAllison Hanes: Montreal prison death demands urgent answersRed Coalition: Quebec ministry told Longueuil police force to defy court order on racial profilingQuebec told Longueuil police to disregard court order on racial profiling, says anti-racism groupCivil rights group accuses Quebec of covering up race-based police dataQue s’est-il passé à Bordeaux ?Public inquiry ordered into jail death of illegally detained Montreal manPublic inquest to be held into death of man in Montreal jailChief coroner orders public inquiry into death of 21-year-old illegally detained at Bordeaux jailCoroner orders public inquiry into Montreal man's jail deathIl y aura une enquête publique du coroner sur la mort de Nicous SpringRed Coalition calling for investigation into systemic racism in Quebec jailsChief Coroner orders public inquiry into death of Nicous SpringPolice union head tells Montreal's new chief: staffing shortages 1st, community policing 2ndPROFILAGE RACIAL: UNE PLAINTE OFFICIELLE DÉPOSÉE CONTRE LA VILLE DE LONGUEUILCoalition alleges contempt of court against LongueuilPROFILAGE RACIAL: «LA CAQ DOIT TENIR SES PROMESSES», ESTIME LA COALITION ROUGEGroups to kick off Black History Month with measures to fight racism
Anti-racism group accuses Montreal-area school of systemic racismCalls grow to change streets named after Christopher Columbus on island of MontrealQuebec sisters afraid to go school, say racism complaints ignoredGroup says private school near Montreal ignored racism complaintsCas de racisme et de cyberintimidation au Collège Bourget de RigaudUn citoyen souhaite «annuler» Christophe Colomb à Pointe-ClaireRACISME ET CYBERINTIMIDATION: LE COLLÈGE BOURGET MIS EN DEMEUREBlack anti-racism groups lob volleys at Canada and QuebecProminent Quebeckers voice support for Trudeau’s anti-Islamophobia representativeProminent Québecers plead for federal anti-Islamophobia rep to be given a chancePetition against Bill 21 tabled at National AssemblyMontreal police brotherhood says it's too easy to blame its members for racial profilingLongueuil, other Quebec police slow in implementing race-based data frameworkAucune accusation ne sera portée contre les policiers qui ont tué Junior OlivierCalls for police accountability as officers who fatally shot Jean René Olivier face no chargesLack of care on Loyola property "unacceptable":DeBellefeuilleGroups call to cancel puppet show featuring minstrel characterUn spectacle pour enfants sème la controverse dans l’ouest de MontréalUn exemple de « racisme systémique », dénoncent des associationsLocal Montreal play carries on despite upset over controversial puppetFamily of man killed by Repentigny police says lawsuit incomingLa mère de Jean-René Junior Olivier poursuit la Ville de RepentignyLa mère de Jean-René Junior Olivier, abattu par des policiers de Repentigny en août 2021, a déposé une poursuite contre la Ville de RepentignyFamily of Black man killed by Repentigny police files to sue city for $430K in damages


no categories


no tags