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Anti-racism group claims Quebec told Longueuil police to ignore court order on racial profiling

Ministry of Public Security, Longueuil police deny claims made by Red Coallition
CBC News · Posted: Jan 10, 2023 5:55 AM ET | Last Updated: 1 hour ago

An anti-racism group on Montreal's South Shore says the Quebec government told the head of police in Longueuil, Que., to ignore a court order to crack down on racial profiling. 
In a 2020 ruling, Human Rights Tribunal Judge Christian Brunelle said the city must adopt a policy on profiling that includes training officers while collecting and evaluating race-based data on people who are stopped by police. 
That race-based data will be the "perceived or presumed race of persons subject to police stops" and be published starting in 2021, the court ruled.
But that never happened, and the Red Coalition now says that it has uncovered evidence proving the province's Ministry of Public Security is to blame.
The organization says it obtained letters dating back to mid-2021. The letters were exchanged between the former head of the Longueuil police service, Fady Dagher, and the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse (CDPDJ), a civil and youth rights organization. 
The Red Coalition has since shared those letters.
Letter exchanges shared with public
In the letter dated Sept. 29, 2021, Dagher writes to the commission inquiring about the Longueuil police service's obligations under the 2020 tribunal ruling.
In the letter, he says the Ministry of Public Security (MSP) informed him that it was working on a province-wide process for police forces to collect race-based data. 
He says the ministry asked the Longueuil police "to wait for the implementation of this solution, which, according to our information and according to what was mentioned by the MSP during the meeting of Sept. 23, should be ready by the end of 2021."
In a follow-up letter dated Dec. 30, Dagher adds: "Based on the latest exchanges we have had with the MSP, we believe that the solution allowing all police forces in the province to collect data concerning the perceived or presumed racial affiliation of people who are the subject of a police arrest could be deployed during the first quarter of 2022."
The Red Coalition says that passage is proof that the province told the Longueuil police service (SPAL) to not follow the court order.
"The Red Coalition applauds the efforts to implement a plan and strategy to combat the very real phenomenon of racial profiling," says Joel DeBellefeuille, head of the Red Coalition, in a news release.
However, he says, it is "inconceivable" that the MSP "instructed Dagher to purposely defy a court order and break the law."
DeBellefeuille's complaint against the police service is what led to the court ruling in the first place. It stemmed from an incident in 2012 where DeBellefeuille, who is Black, was stopped while dropping his son off at daycare.
He says Longueuil police still haven't complied with the resulting court order and his organization is planning to head back to court to make that happen.
Police, ministry deny claims
Longueuil police Insp. Simon Crépeau said in an email that the MSP has not in any way instructed the SPAL or the City of Longueuil to defy the court order or disobey the law. 
MSP spokesperson Louise Quintin said the ministry would never instruct a police force to defy the decision of a court, whatever it may be.
"The MSP is working on several fronts to fight against racism and racial and social profiling," Quintin said in an email.
When it comes to collecting data on police stops and police training, Quintin said, the MSP has been working for more than a year to implement a framework and a mechanism for collecting data on police questioning.
"To do this, the MSP offered financial support to the police forces that needed it so that they could adjust their computer system to document the police stops made," she said.
"This data collection should gradually be extended over the next few months to all police forces in Quebec."
Dalia Alachi, spokesperson for the CDPDJ, said in an email to CBC News that the commission is "very involved" in developing a training program to counter racism and racial and social profiling for police organizations.
This is in collaboration with the MSP, Quebec's police school and the police ethics commissioner, Alachi says. However, implementing a race-based data collection system is up to the ministry and the Longueuil police service, not the commission, she says.



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