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Judge in Quebec racial profiling case orders end to random traffic stops

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MONTREAL — A Quebec Superior Court judge has invalidated laws that allow police to randomly pull over drivers for traffic stops.

Justice Michel Yergeau ruled Tuesday on a constitutional challenge to random stops, writing that racial profiling exists and that it’s a reality that weighs heavily on Black people.

“As a society, we cannot wait for a part of the population to continue to suffer in silence in the hope that a rule of law will finally receive from the police services an application that respects the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Charter,” Yergeau wrote.

“Racial profiling does exist. It is not a laboratory-constructed abstraction … It is a reality that weighs heavily on Black communities. It manifests itself in particular with Black drivers of motor vehicles.”

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The challenge heard this year was brought by Joseph-Christopher Luamba, a Black Montreal resident who said he had been stopped by police nearly a dozen times without reason, at least half of which when he was behind the wheel. None resulted in a ticket.

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association intervened on his behalf, arguing that random stops by police violate equality rights guaranteed under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and create opportunities for racial profiling.

Luamba, 22, and the civil rights group challenged the power of Canadian police to stop drivers without a reasonable suspicion that an offence had been committed. They did not challenge structured police traffic stops such as drunk-driving checkpoints.

“The preponderant evidence shows that over time, the arbitrary power granted to the police to carry out roadside stops without cause has become for some of them a vector, even a safe conduit for racial profiling against the Black community,” Yergeau wrote.

“The rule of law thus becomes … a breach through which this sneaky form of racism rushes in.”

Yergeau’s ruling overturns the rules established by a 1990 Supreme Court decision, R. v. Ladouceur, where the high court ruled that police were justified when they issued a summons to an Ontario driver who had been stopped randomly and who had been driving with a suspended licence.

The high court ruled that random stops were the only way to determine whether drivers are properly licensed, whether a vehicle’s seatbelts work and whether a driver is impaired.

But Yergeau wrote it was time for the justice system to declare this power, which violates certain constitutional rights, obsolete and inoperable, as well as the article of Quebec’s provincial Highway Safety Code that allows it.

Still, Yergeau wrote that the ruling applies specifically to the random stops. He said the ruling is not meant to be an inquiry report on systemic racism involving racialized or Indigenous Peoples.

The judge also said the ruling is not about racism within police forces, saying the court heard no evidence in this regard, nor did it draw a conclusion.

But he noted that “racial profiling can sneakily creep into police practice without police officers in general being driven by racist values.”

Lawyers for the Canadian and Quebec governments argued that the Supreme Court was right to uphold the rule allowing random stops, which they say is an important tool for fighting drunk driving.

Police forces testified about the different efforts made to curb racial profiling and diversify their rank and file.

In his ruling, Yergeau wrote rights protected by the Charter cannot depend on the goodwill of police, and ethics and justice must go hand in hand. He ruled there would be a six-month delay until the rules allowing random stops are officially invalid.

There was no immediate word on a possible appeal.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 25, 2022.

 

Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press

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Businesses, Canadians feeling financial pressure of inflation | Watch News Videos Online – Global News

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Global National

Canadian businesses are cutting costs and raising prices as profits plummet, while consumers struggle with the rising cost of living. Marney Blunt looks at how everyone is looking to save money, and what credit counsellors are predicting for January 2023.

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Alberta, Saskatchewan chiefs call for sovereignty acts to be withdrawn

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First Nations chiefs from Alberta and Saskatchewan are calling for their provinces to toss proposed legislation they say is inherently undemocratic, unconstitutional and infringes on Indigenous rights.

“We are not looking for change or amendments to the bill. We want it withdrawn,” Chief Tony Alexis said Wednesday on behalf of Treaty 6.

The chiefs are putting forward an emergency resolution at the Assembly of First Nations special assembly to reject sovereignty bills that are before both provincial legislatures.

Alexis, of the Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation northwest of Edmonton, said there has been no consultation or dialogue with First Nations around the Alberta bill.

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It has been criticized for giving the premier and cabinet unchecked powers to pass laws behind close doors, although amendments to change that have recently been put forward.

Alexis said the bill is harmful to Albertans and Canadians. He said it infringes on treaty rights and could set a harmful precedent.

“We are deeply concerned that, if passed, it would have a domino effect across Canada,” Alexis said. “And what would keep other provinces from following suit and, ultimately, what will that mean for treaty rights across Canada?”

Vice Chief Aly Bear of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations also said the act in Saskatchewan is unconstitutional. The bill, tabled last month, looks to unilaterally amend the Constitution to reassert the province’s jurisdiction over its natural resources.

Premier Scott Moe has said the act doesn’t affect treaty rights and is aimed at growing the economy to benefit all people, including Indigenous people

Bear said, however, that the proposed legislation creates more harm than good. She said there has also not been consultation with Indigenous groups in Saskatchewan.

“If we want to fix that relationship, we have to be sitting down at the table,” she said.

The chiefs said the federal government has, so far, taken a hands-off approach to the bills and encouraged officials to meet with First Nations leaders from the provinces.

Assembly of First Nations National Chief RoseAnne Archibald said she stands with the chiefs in Saskatchewan and Alberta, calling for the acts to be withdrawn.

She said the bills have a specific agenda around lands and resources and that they infringe on First Nations inherent and treaty rights.

“We will not stand idly by.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 7, 2022.

— By Kelly Geraldine Malone in Saskatoon

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Mint issues black-ringed toonie in memory of Queen Elizabeth II

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Mint issues black-ringed toonie in memory of Queen Elizabeth II

The Royal Canadian Mint is issuing a new black-ringed toonie to honour Queen Elizabeth II.

The mint says the coin’s black outer ring is intended to evoke a “mourning armband” to honour the queen, who died in September after 70 years on the throne.

The mint says it will start to circulate nearly five million of the coins this month, and they will gradually appear as banks restock inventories.

Aside from the black ring, the mint says the coin retains the same design elements of the standard toonie.

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Four different images of the queen have graced Canadian coins since 1953, when she was crowned.

The core of the commemorative toonie will feature the same portrait of the queen that has been in circulation since 2003, with a polar bear design on the other side.

“Queen Elizabeth II served as Canada’s head of state for seven decades and for millions of Canadians, she was the only monarch they had ever known,” Marie Lemay, president and CEO of the Royal Canadian Mint, wrote in a statement.

“Our special $2 circulation coin offers Canadians a way to remember her.”

The mint says it may produce more of the coins, depending on what it calls “marketplace needs”.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 7, 2022.

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