Non-white lawyers in Canada call out racial profiling in justice system
Last July, prominent black Toronto lawyer Selwyn Pieters says that he experienced racial profiling by a security guard at the Law Society of Upper Canada's headquarters. Pieters has filed a complaint against the Law Society to the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal, seeking $75,000 in damages. He claims the Law Society itself has an issue with race.
The Law Society says the security guard was following standard procedure and that this was not a case of racial profiling.
To speak to the perennial problem of discrimination and systemic bias that Black, Asian and Indigenous lawyers say they face in our courts, The Current convened a panel:
- Katherine Hensel is a lawyer from the Shuswap Nation and the principal lawyer with Hensel Barristers.
- Arleen Huggins is a partner at Koskie Minsky LLP and a board member of the Canadian Association of Black Lawyers.
- Viresh Fernando is a South Asian litigation lawyer.
The Law Society of Upper Canada declined to speak to The Current about the complaint but did provide a statement. Here is an excerpt:
"When Mr. Pieters related his experience, our CEO, Robert Lapper, reached out immediately to assure him and his student, Mr. Williams, that the incident would be reviewed."
It goes on to say standard protocols were followed at the time and "we regret that Mr. Pieters' experience in interacting with our security staff was not more positive."
This segment was produced by The Current's Howard Goldenthal and Sujata Berry.