Racial profiling should be outlawed in Quebec and public institutions must address the phenomenon through hiring practices, recommends a long-awaited report from the province's human rights commission.
Ethnic minorities in Quebec are subject to "police surveillance that is targeted and disproportionate," according to the report written by the Quebec Human Rights Commission.
The problem is concentrated in the greater Montreal area, and has eroded relations between ethnic communities and public authorities, the report said.
Released Wednesday to the public, the document makes 92 non-binding recommendations based on a series of public hearings held last year across the province.
The measures target police forces, private security agencies and Quebec's public security ministry.
Recommended measures include:
- Adopting an official definition of racial profiling.
- Adding racial profiling to Quebec's Charter of Rights and Freedoms as a violation of a person's rights.
- Reviewing anti-gang strategies used by police forces.
- Granting police ethics boards more power to sanction against racial profiling.
- Introducing anti-racism training at police academies in the province.
- Forcing government departments to adopt action plans against racial profiling.
Quebec public security minister Robert Dutil said his department will review the report "very seriously" and acknowledged there is room for improvement.
Montrealer who shared profiling story skeptical
Taejhia James, 19, is among dozens who shared their stories of racial profiling with the commission.
James says she and her friends were targeted by public transit inspectors in 2009 because of the colour of their skin.
The young women were asked to produce proof of payment at a metro station. Two of them had passes, but the third had thrown away her ticket.
James says her friend was pinned to the ground, and all three were given $324 tickets. They contested the fines and the tickets were dropped.
It's typical, James said — and means most of her friends don't trust police.
"They'd rather ask a friend or neighbour when they should be able to call the police and ask them for help because they feel they're going to be victimized in the end."
The commission's recommendations are a positive step, but James says she is reserved about what the report can accomplish.
"I think they can have as many conferences and discuss the topics as much as they want, but until workers are trained to deal with different socio-economic and ethnic groups will anything change."