Nova Scotia

Justice minister says street checks loophole to be closed next month

The practice is illegal and disproportionately targets people of colour.

Brad Johns says he expects to issue a ministerial directive by the end of November

Brad Johns is Nova Scotia's justice minister. (CBC)

Nova Scotia Justice Minister Brad Johns says the loophole on street checks will be closed by the end of November.

Johns was asked several times during question period Thursday about his department's plans to do away with a provision that allows police street checks to persist under the guise of investigating suspicious activity.

It's been established already that the practice is illegal and disproportionately targets Black people and other people of colour. The former Liberal government brought in a ban on the practice, however the loophole remained.

Johns told reporters at Province House that he expects to be able to issue a ministerial directive by the end of November. The minister said most of the work required has been completed, but he wants to have a chance first to meet with representatives from Black communities to make sure things are correct.

"That's the most important thing to me," said Johns.

Preston MLA Angela Simmonds is the Nova Scotia Liberal Party's justice critic. (Jean Laroche/CBC)

Liberal justice critic Angela Simmonds, whose district of Preston includes several historical Black communities, noted the government already has recommendations from the Decade for People of African Descent Coalition.

"This isn't anything new," Simmonds told reporters. "What's new is that we represent the voices in the House."

Simmonds said she doesn't think there's been much of a reduction in street checks since they were banned because of how much discretion remains for police. She said clarifying the language would help officers, too.

"This isn't just for communities, but it's actually to protect law enforcement as well because they do have to do their job," she said.

"And so we can appreciate the kind of grey area that this has caused, for sure. But what we do know is it is illegal and it continues to be illegal until the legislation changes and until they address the language."