"The arbitrary power of police officers to conduct traffic stops without cause has become for some officers a vehicle for, and even a safe harbour for, racial profiling of the Black community."
A Quebec Superior Court judge has ruled that police traffic stops "without probable cause" violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The almost 170-page ruling weighed the effects and extent of racial profiling in police decisions about those stops.
The case was brought by Joseph-Christopher Luamba, a 22-year-old Montrealer of Haitian descent, who was pulled over three times over the course of a little over a year. In none of those instances had officers issued him a ticket.
He sued Quebec law enforcement, seeking to invalidate the law that allowed "random" traffic stops. The court ruled in his favour, declaring "racial profiling is real."
"We cannot as a society wait for a segment of the population to continue to suffer in silence in the hope that a rule of law will finally be enforced by the police in a way that respects the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Canadian Charter," Judge Michel Yergeau wrote in his conclusion.
"The preponderance of evidence shows that over time, the arbitrary power of police officers to conduct traffic stops without cause has become for some officers a vehicle for, and even a safe harbour for, racial profiling of the Black community."
In a statement, the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse (CDPDJ) celebrated the decision.
"The number of stops of Black people behind the wheel is disproportionate to their demographic weight, hence the importance of this decision, which represents a major advance in the fight against racial profiling," CDPDJ Vice President Myrlande Pierre said.
"This decision recognizes the impact of these stops on tens of thousands of Black people who are stigmatized and watched every time they are on the road."
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