Montreal passes motion urging police to stop arbitrary checks
MONTREAL - The city of Montreal on Monday passed a motion urging the SPVM to stop "unfounded" police checks.
Often called arbitrary, unfounded or random, the checks disproportionately target minorities, a recent independent report found.
Researchers analyzed the police force's own statistics, gathered between 2014 and 2017, and found that black and indigenous people were between four and five times more likely to be stopped by the police than white people. Young Arab Montrealers were also targeted four times more than white Montrealers. Indigenous women were 11 times more likely than white women to be subjected to a police street check.
Monday's motion called on Montreal police to stop "unfounded" police checks. The demand was, however, largely symbolic. The provincial government would have to change the law to forbid police from engaging in random checks, according to City Councillor Marvin Rotrand, who introduced the motion.
Drawing on the example of Nova Scotia, where a provincial moratorium on routine police checks was implemented following a report that found they unfairly targeted black people, Montreal city councillors called on the Quebec government to propose a law outlawing "arbitrary" police checks.
In March, the SPVM will publicly present measures to address the independent report's findings. As part of that response, the police force should develop a policy to address random street checks, the city council's Monday motion said.
The motion also requires the city's executive committee to present a report to the city council detailing how the city will address racial profiling issues inside the SPVM.
Rotrand said he was satisifed with city council's decision to pass the motion. He, and a coalition of community groups representing minorities, had hoped for different wording in the motion, but some of it was changed by councillors prior to being adopted. Notably, the word "moratorium" was taken out. So was the word "routine" when referring to the street checks.
“I should feel elated but I don’t," he said. "The language of the motion is not as airtight as had hoped. But clearly this is a win. We have a coalition that will now be part of the process. And we will hold the city council to its word.”
Earlier on Monday, former Justice Minister Irwin Cotler endorsed the motion.