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Anti-racism task force calls for end to racial profiling in all Quebec police forces


MONTREAL — Random police stops should be banned for all of Quebec's police forces and patrol units should include social workers who can de-escalate tensions during interventions, the province's anti-racism task force said Monday.

Junior health minister Lionel Carmant and Immigration Minister Nadine Girault, members of the task force created by Premier Francois Legault in June, admitted that despite years of reports and recommendations on fighting racism, there have been few results. 

"What we are presenting today, are finally, concrete and coherent actions," Girault told reporters in Montreal, home to Quebec's largest population of racialized minorities. "Never has there been such a firm will to act and, above all, to do all the necessary monitoring so that we can measure the effects of these actions."

In creating the task force, Legault promised his government would take more concrete action to fight racism than any previous provincial government. He and his cabinet remain steadfast, however, that although racism exists in Quebec, systemic racism does not.

Carmant and Girault, who are Black, told reporters they have both been victims of racism but they also said Quebec is one of the most welcoming and tolerant places in the world.

Carmant said he believes all his task force's recommendations will be taken up by the Quebec government within the next two years. And in order to ensure that happens, the task force recommended Quebec create the position of an anti-racism minister, who will be responsible for overseeing the implementation of the recommendations and to evaluate their results.

"It will be their job to tap on the fingers of those who do not do their job and to make sure to recognize those who do it well," Girault said. 

Carmant said it should be enshrined into law that police cannot stop people on the street or in a car without a clear motive. "For the arrest to take place, it will take a clear reason on the part of the police and they must inform the citizen at the time of the arrest," he said.

He said this measure will "considerably reduce" racial profiling by police. Montreal's police force announced a similar policy over the summer, but it didn't cover traffic stops.

In August, the Public Security Department released guidelines on police stops to ensure they are not random, unfounded, or discriminatory. Carmant said those policies didn't have the force of law, and he recommended the police code of conduct be amended to require that officers adhere to his task force's recommendations on stops.

"The task force also recommends that social workers be incorporated into police forces," Carmant said. "This will allow the de-escalation of many situations that are based on perceptions or on prejudices."

The task force issued a series of other recommendations including ensuring more minority representation in Quebec's civil service. Girault said details on the representation of minorities within the government bureaucracy and in state-run corporations would be determined by the new minister. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 14, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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