Montreal council passes motion asking SPVM to stop street checks

Montreal city council does not have the authorization to force the SPVM to stop conducting street checks, so it is asking the provincial government to step in.

Black, Indigenous and Arab people 4 to 5 times more likely to be stopped

Montreal police Chief Sylvain Caron said in October that he accepts a report criticizing the disproportionate number of visible minorities stopped by Montreal police. Montreal city council is asking the force to stop street checks altogether. (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada)

The City of Montreal unanimously passed a motion Monday night asking the SPVM to stop doing street checks — even if it can't enforce that request.

A street check — also known as "carding" — is an interaction between police and civilians, outside of a criminal context, that allows police to ask for a person's identifying information.

"Nobody should be scared to walk down the streets of Montreal because they're scared they'll be stopped by police due to their race," said Marvin Rotrand, the independent councillor for Snowdon who brought forward the motion.

"It's not acceptable that … citizens are being stopped, largely because of a systemic bias, and not because they committed a crime."

A report released in October found that found black, Indigenous and Arab people are more likely to be stopped in random street checks by Montreal police.

However, Montreal city council does not have the authorization to force the SPVM to stop conducting street checks. 

Rosannie Filato, the executive committee member responsible for public security, said the city wants to see a provincial law banning the practice of street checks.

The city also asked the SPVM to create a framework for when street checks should occur, and to present it as part of a report expected in March 2020.

In a statement, Amélie Paquet, a spokesperson for Quebec Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault said the province is reviewing the city's position on street checks.

Paquet said Guilbault plans to address the question in a provincial report aimed at modernizing Quebec police, due out next month.