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e-3668 (Public safety)

Initiated by Joel DeBellefeuille from Montréal, Quebec

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the Minister of Public Safety

  • The practice of racial profiling seriously threatens equal rights, democracy and justice for all Canadians;
  • The Supreme Court has acknowledged that systemic racial profiling by policing, occurs as a “day-to-day reality” for Black and Indigenous Canadians;
  • A UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent found that racial profiling is “endemic” in Canadian law enforcement, and urged this country to immediately discontinue this practice in all of its forms;
  • While some provinces have passed regulations and moratoriums prohibiting these practices, pretextual pedestrian “street checks” and “stops” of Black motorists (aka "driving while black") persist;
  • There is a clear link between public confidence in policing and public safety, the erosion of police legitimacy has profound consequences for our justice system, as well as on the cost effectiveness of police services and billions of taxpayers’ dollars paid annually;
  • Private Member’s Bill-C296, Elimination of Racial Profiling Act, was introduced in 2004 but never became law;
  • To date, there has been no concrete meaningful action from governments to effect systemic changes in policing to eliminate the practice of racial profiling; and
  • Canada has the constitutional power to legislate in respect to “peace, order and good government”.
We, the undersigned, citizens and residents of Canada, call upon the Minister of Public Safety to request the enacting of legislation to prohibit racial profiling and influence the policing culture in this country, by requiring law enforcement agencies to establish policies and procedures to eliminate it from their practices to receive federal funding.

Response by the Minister of Public Safety

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): PAM DAMOFF, M.P.

Profiling individuals on the basis of race is an unacceptable practice, and the RCMP has training, guidance, practices, and procedures to ensure bias-free policing. RCMP personnel are required to complete mandatory training courses on “Cultural Awareness and Humility” and “Uniting Against Racism.” There are also additional courses available to RCMP personnel such as, “Racially Biased Policing”, developed by the Toronto Police Service. These courses increase the knowledge of RCMP employees on the history of race-related issues in policing, and how systemic racism is entrenched in Canadian society. The courses also teach personnel the differences between proper behavioural criminal profiling and racial profiling and, how to apply unbiased perspectives to the policing role. Overall, the educational opportunities contribute to better-prepared RCMP Members, able to serve Canadians by valuing diversity and building partnerships by becoming aware of systemic biases, and empowering members to apply an intersectional lens to their work to be actively anti-racist.

The provinces and territories are responsible for the administration of criminal justice, including policing, in their respective jurisdictions. Currently, eight provinces, all three territories, and over 150 municipalities in Canada have chosen to contract their policing services from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), which is cost-shared with the federal government. As Canada’s national police, the RCMP also provides federal policing services, which varies from general duty policing services delivered as the contracted police of jurisdiction. The RCMP’s federal policing mandate includes responsibilities such as the investigation of drugs and organized crime, economic crime, and terrorist criminal activity; the enforcement of federal statutes; and, securing Canada's border, among many other things.

The RCMP recognizes the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on March 21st and acknowledges this as a part of Vision150 and Beyond, which is the RCMP’s strategy for modernizing the organization to ensure a safe, equitable workplace; address systemic racism; advance reconciliation with Indigenous peoples; support modern policing; and improve accountability, transparency and conduct. To further this vision, the RCMP will continue to build partnerships and knowledge, and will review and update various policies and approaches that guide Members’ learning and behaviour. The RCMP is committed through the following excerpt from an internal broadcast regarding the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination: “The RCMP has taken a firm stance against racism and discrimination and continues to take concrete steps to counter intolerant attitudes”. The RCMP has made a commitment to focusing on addressing racial discrimination through its Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) strategy, producing a report for 2020-2021 to provide both empirical and anecdotal data, locate areas of concern, implement strategies, and measure change. The EDI strategy notes that one of its key objectives is to “change culture and transform”, with one of the sub-points being to “address systemic racism”.

The RCMP has over-arching Bias-Free Policing policies that define racial profiling and prohibit the practice. Chapter 38.2, section 1.5 of the RCMP Operational Manual defines racial profiling as “attributing certain criminal activity to an identified group in society on the basis of race or skin colour, resulting in the targeting of individual members of that group.” The policy further notes that “racial profiling includes any action or increased scrutiny towards an individual based on their actual or perceived race, national or ethnic origin, skin colour, or religion, or any combination of these grounds” and that “racial profiling may be consciously or unconsciously held.” Section 3. 1. 1. of the Manual specifically instructs that Members “do not engage in racial profiling.”

Other RCMP policies provide further guidance. The Street Check policy, in particular, instructs and directs Members in their everyday operational interactions with the public. This policy emphasizes that street checks must not be random and must comply with the RCMP’s Bias-Free Policing policy, which is based on the principles of equality and non-discrimination. The RCMP Street Check policy is currently under review. Amendments include additional guidance that requires RCMP officers to inform the public of the voluntariness of the interaction, as well as supervisory and oversight components. This policy is also informed, among other sources, by case law, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Human Rights Act and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner.

The RCMP has federal legislation that allows for the accountability and investigation of Member conduct. Part 3 of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Regulations, consistent with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act, states that all Members must conduct themselves in accordance with the Code of Conduct set out in its Schedule. The Statement of Objectives is “Maintaining the confidence of Canadians in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police is essential”. In accordance with that, subsection 7.1 of the Regulations directs Members to “…behave in a manner that is not likely to discredit the Force”. With respect to racial profiling and bias-free policing, subsection 2.1 states that “Members treat every person with respect and courtesy and do not engage in discrimination or harassment”.

The aforementioned training, guidance, legislation, policies and procedures aim to maintain public confidence in policing and public safety. This is an ongoing process, with accountability mechanisms in place to ensure the RCMP reflects the diversity and values of all Canadians.

Open for signature
November 26, 2021, at 10:38 a.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
February 24, 2022, at 10:38 a.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Matthew Green (Hamilton Centre)
June 20, 2022 (Petition No. 441-00619)
Government response tabled
September 20, 2022
Photo - Matthew Green
Hamilton Centre
New Democratic Party Caucus