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Legault Says Montreal Still Needs Random Police Action In 'Certain Areas'

Even though a Quebec judge ruled against random traffic stops and recognized racial profiling by police.

Senior Editor
Quebec Premier François Legault at a press conference.

Quebec Premier François Legault at a press conference.

A judge has ruled against random police traffic stops in Quebec, but Premier François Legault claims "random" police action is still necessary in "certain areas" of Montreal.

The ruling was a blistering rebuke of the police practice and recognized the role of racial profiling in police decisions about stops.

"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 the decision.

"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."

Reacting to the ruling in a press conference on Wednesday, the premier said "we are against racial profiling but in certain areas of Montreal we need police [officers] to continue to do their jobs on a random basis."

He suggested random police interventions were necessary to prevent "violence in Montreal," though he stopped short of calling for a continuation of random traffic stops, specifically.

Legault added that the government will "carefully" study the court ruling before considering potential next steps or a possible appeal.

As Quebec political analyst Patrick Déry first pointed out, the premier's equivocal response appears to contradict a 2020 statement in which he seemed to advocate for an end to random stops.

"I was asked what would be the most effective measure to fight racism in practice," Legault wrote in a December 14, 2020, tweet. "I replied that random stops and profiling by some police officers should be stopped. There is still work to be done, but the vast majority of our police officers are doing an exemplary job!"

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