Former top judge to examine legality of Halifax street checks
Report released in March found black people were street checked at a rate 6 times higher than white people
A former chief justice of the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal will examine the legality of the controversial practice of police street checks.
In a letter to Halifax's board of police commissioners, the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission said Michael MacDonald has agreed to assist the independent agency in offering a legal opinion on street checks.
A report released in March found black people were street checked at a rate six times higher than white people in the Halifax area.
The number is about double the CBC News estimate that triggered the review.
The independent report by Scot Wortley, a University of Toronto criminology professor, also found the odds of being stopped for a street check were highest for black men, followed by Arab males and black females.
"The commission agrees that the independent legal opinion on police street check practices is vital to ensure that meaningful progress can be made in addressing Dr. Wortley's opinions and recommendations," said the June 4 letter, which is attached to the agenda for the police board's upcoming meeting on Monday.
The commission was acting on a May 13 request from the police board to determine the legality of street checks.
Street checks allow police officers to document information about a person they believe could be of significance to a future investigation, and record details such as their ethnicity, gender, age and location.
Following the release of Wortley's report, Nova Scotia Justice Minister Mark Furey directed police across the province to stop using quotas for street checks.
The letter to the police board said the commission will be working with stakeholders in the coming weeks to outline the terms of reference and "will certainly share a copy of the opinion with the board as soon as the work is completed."
MacDonald retired in January after a 40-year legal career. He became the 22nd chief justice of Nova Scotia and the chief justice of the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal in 2004.