Criticism mounts over Quebec’s new policy on police street checks

Criticism mounts over Quebec’s new policy on police street checks
After Montreal police changed their policy on police street checks in early July, the province of Quebec has done the same. While the Montreal police held a press conference to announce the changes, Quebec’s amendment to the Ministry of Public Security (MPS) Guide to Police Practices came to light in a press release sent on Friday evening — a well known tactic for burying news and evading questions.

The amendment states that street checks have to be carried out only to assist a person in need, prevent a crime or incivility, collect information about or identify a wanted person. The MPS advises police forces to adopt these directives “while respecting their local reality.”

“Although it constitutes an essential practice in matters of public security, the police stop must be based on observable facts or information which provides the police officer with a reason to intervene with a citizen within the framework of the police mission.”—Quebec Ministry of Public Security statement

Former RCMP police officer Alain Babineau, who’s currently an advisor at the Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR), told La Presse that the new guidelines not only fail to address the issue of discriminatory police practices in Quebec, but give “carte blanche to continue to justify racial profiling.” Babineau notes that the Legault government made these revisions with no public consultation or even private consultation with Black or Indigenous community groups, and that the amendments don’t address incidents where police stop drivers — situations where racial profiling most often come into play.

CTV has reported that a coalition of 29 Quebec community groups and individual leaders have asked the province to revise and improve their new rules about street checks. ■

To view the Quebec Guide to Police Practices, please visit the Ministry of Public Security website.

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