Longueuil, Que., given ultimatum on release of race-based traffic stop data

A group seeking to end racial profiling is giving the City of Longueuil until the end of day Friday to publish race-based data on police stops.

Joel DeBellefeuille says Longueuil has until end of the week to cough up data or he's taking it to court

Portrait of man with a serious expression outside a building of greenish glass.
Joel DeBellefeuille, leader of the Red Coalition, says it's time to 'put a lid on this evil beast called racial profiling.' (Simon Nakonechny/CBC)

A group seeking to end racial profiling is giving the City of Longueuil, on Montreal's South Shore, until the end of day Friday to publish race-based data on police stops.

If not, the leader of the Red Coalition says he'll take the city to court.

Joel DeBellefeuille said the data will show whether or not officers are disproportionately stopping Black people and other people of colour.

But he has a personal connection to this situation as well.

It was actually his case, which he brought in front of Quebec's Human Rights tribunal, that led the court to order Longueuil to collect and publish the data in the first place. 

It stems from an incident in 2012 where DeBellefeuille, who is Black, was stopped in 2012 while dropping his son off at daycare.

In a 2020 ruling, the Human Rights Tribunal found he had been racially profiled by officers and he was awarded damages.

In his decision, Judge Christian Brunelle said the city must adopt a policy on profiling that would include providing training to officers as well as 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" annually, starting in 2021, the court ruled.

DeBellefeuille said it will soon be two years since that judgment was handed down, and that data has not been released:

"This is really important information that is being suppressed, that has been suppressed for the last 23 almost 24 months, and it's time to let it out," he said.

It's time, he said, to "put a lid on this evil beast called racial profiling."

DeBellefeuille said he sent a bailiff to Longueuil Mayor Catherine Fournier with a demand that the city release the data by the end of the day Friday.

If not, he says he will ask a judge for the city to be held in contempt of court.

A spokesperson from Mayor Fournier's office told CBC it wouldn't comment on the situation.

Instead, the spokesperson said CBC should contact the city's police service. A spokesperson for the police said they will not comment on the matter now that a formal demand has been sent to the city.

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.

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Being Black in Canada highlights stories about Black Canadians. (CBC)

with files from Simon Nakonechny