Black Coalition of Quebec suing Montreal police for racial profiling

Gabriel Bazin, Black Coalition of Quebec V.P., and lawyer Jacky-Eric Salvant

A class-action suit seeking compensation from the city of Montreal for incidents of racial profiling by its police department has been given leave to proceed by a Superior Court justice.

In a 14-page ruling made Aug. 7, Judge André Provost provided a list of questions that would need to be addressed by the proceeding, including whether police engaged in discriminatory conduct based on racial profiling that violated Charter rights, whether those incidents cause damages to members of a particular group, whether police should be held liable for those damages and what the amount of those damages should be.

While the principal petitioners for the class action are the Black Coalition of Quebec and Alexandre Lamontagne, who contends he was a victim of racial profiling at the hands of Montreal police in 2017, those considered eligible for possible compensation are described in the ruling as any “racialized” person who, whether stopped, arrested or detained by Montreal police, suffered physical damages because of racial profiling between Aug. 14, 2017 and Jan. 11, 2019, or who was subjected to racial profiling without physical damages between July 11, 2018 and Jan. 11, 2019.

In his ruling, Judge Provost noted that while the city of Montreal did not question Lamontagne’s right to launch the class action on his own behalf, it disputed whether any factual evidence showed that others found themselves in the same situation. Provost pointed out that the Montreal police department’s strategic plan for 2018-’21, the agglomeration of Montreal’s actions to fight against racial profiling as well as a report examining racial profiling in police procedures “abound with facts showing Mr. Lamontagne’s situation is not unique.”