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Former justice minister Irwin Cotler endorses motion to halt police street checks in Montreal
MONTREAL - Irwin Cotler, a longtime Liberal MP and a former justice minister of Canada, has endorsed a motion to be presented Monday at Montreal City Council calling for a moratorium on 'random' police street checks.
A coalition of some 20 community organizations that is supporting the motion - to be put to City Council on Monday by longtime city councillor Marvin Rotrand - announced the high-profile endorsement Sunday.
Cotler, who was nominated for the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize and currently serves as the President of the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights, has said that Montreal's City Council needs to act to make sure all Montrealers, regardless of racial or ethnic background, are treated equitably by Montreal police.
"[Police street checks are] a longstanding practice that has to finally be addressed and redressed and that's why it's going to take municipal initiatives and provincial legislative initiaves as well as the good faith of the police themselves," Cotler on Monday told CTV News in a phone interview.
Cotler is also joining the coalition's call for the province of Quebec to introduce legislation similar to that introduced in Ontario and proposed in Nova Scotia that would curb the practice of random street checks by police, which critics say is an example of racial profiling.
A recent independent study made public by the Service de Police de la Ville de Montreal revealed that ethnic and visible minorities have been disproportinately targeted by street checks by Montreal police, interactions that are ostensibly random.
The province of Nova-Scotia suspended police street checks after a similar report found black people were six times more likely than white people to be stopped by police.
Rotrand will present his motion to city hall on Monday.
"We need to show solidarity with citizens who could be targeted for no particular reason," he said. "They become known to the police not because they've committed a crime but because they happen to be a different race than we are."