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Civil rights group accuses Quebec of covering up race-based police data

By Sam Maislin The Suburban, Jan 12, 2023

The civil rights group Red Coalition has made public details of emails from the Quebec government telling Longueuil police to dismiss a court order regarding racial profiling. A 2020 ruling by Human Rights Tribunal Judge Christian Brunelle ordered Longueuil police to adopt a policy to collect and publish race-based data on people who are stopped by police. The race-based data collected would include the "perceived or presumed race of persons subject to police stops,” and was to be published in 2021.
However, the executive director of the group Joel DeBellefeuille says that the data was never published that Chief Dagher was ready to because guidelines were never set by Quebec. DeBellefeuille has shared details of the emails which were sent to former Longueuil police chief Fady Dagher who is set to become the next police chief of Montreal.

In an email exchange dated September 29, 2021, between Dagher and the Quebec human rights commission, Dagher wrote that he was informed by the ministry of public security that guidelines for police forces to collect race-based information were being worked on, with the ministry requesting that Longueuil police "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."
On December 30, 2021, Dagher wrote in a follow-up email that read, "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.” DeBellefeuille says that the policy has yet to be put into practice and has stated that the aforementioned email passage is evidence that the provincial government ordered the Longueuil police service to disregard the 2020 ruling. DeBellefeuille released a statement on the matter saying, “The Red Coalition applauds the efforts to implement a plan and strategy to combat the very real phenomenon of racial profiling.” However, DeBellefeuille was appalled that the Ministry of Public Security "instructed Dagher to purposely defy a court order and break the law."

Lawyer Julius Grey sent a letter on behalf of DeBellefeuille on November 18, 2022, to the City of Longueuil warning them that the city was "in breach" of the court ruling. The letter read in part, “We hereby put you on notice to comply with all provisions of said judgment within five days upon receipt of this notice. Should you fail to comply, we will take out legal proceedings against you without any further warning nor delay, and we will pursue the highest legal penalty possible in this matter."
Longueuil police inspector Simon Crépeau stated that the accusations that the Ministry of public safety ordered Longueuil police to disregard the order is false. Spokesperson for the ministry Louise Quintin stated that the ministry would never instruct police to go against a court ruling, saying “The MSP is working on several fronts to fight against racism and racial and social profiling.”

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