Montreal-area men file human rights complaints over alleged profiling, discrimination at banks

WATCH: Alain Babineau, an advisor with the Center for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR) has filed a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission, accusing a CIBC branch in Montreal of racially discriminating against him.

Alain Babineau, an advisor with the Center for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR), a non-profit advocacy group, is accusing a CIBC bank branch in Montreal of racial profiling and discrimination.

He and another man, Hichem Raïs, are taking two banks to the Canadian Human Rights Commission. Raïs is accusing a TD bank branch in Laval of racial profiling and discrimination as well.

On Tuesday, Babineau, a retired RCMP officer and McGill law graduate who now works as an advisor on racial profiling and policing with CRARR, said he was denied a replacement debit card at the CIBC’s Guy Favreau Complex two weeks ago.

He said he was denied, despite having all the necessary documents available. Babineau is a black man in his 50s.

READ MORE: Indigenous, black people more likely to be stopped by Montreal police: report

Babineau said he provided the teller two pieces of identification and two documents with his proof of address. He has also been a CIBC customer for 25 years.

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He alleges he was however forced to go through a process of repeatedly answering questions about his identification, only to have his request ultimately denied after the teller consulted with other staff on his documentation.

He said the experience left him feeling humiliated.

“No matter my long record record of service with the RCMP, I still get very upset when I become the target of racial profiling,” he said.

READ MORE: Racial profiling a widespread, systemic problem in Montreal: report

The retired RCMP officer has filed a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission, saying he was racially profiled and discriminated against. 

His complaint is accompanied by that of Hichem Raïs, an Arab man in his 30s, who said he faced similar racial profiling and discrimination at a TD bank last March.

Raïs said he was denied the opportunity to open a bank account with two TD branches in Laval and that one of the branches called the police on him.

READ MORE: Quebec Human Rights commission says majority of hate attacks go unreported

Raïs said he first went to the TD bank on Boulevard Notre-Dame in Laval, where he provided the teller with his medicare card and his driver’s licence.

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He said the teller seemed to suspect that he had given her a fake driver’s licence and told him to come back with an additional piece of identification. 

The man told the teller he would do so but at a branch more convenient for him.

READ MORE: Racial profiling class-action lawsuit against Montreal gets green light

Raïs said he went to the second branch on Boulevard le Carrefour, this time with three pieces of ID: his medicare card, his driver’s licence and his passport.

Raïs said the teller had been warned about him, and told him he was “doing the rounds” of banks in the area. 

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He said the teller took his IDs to consult with other staff, then returned to tell him that not only were they denying his request to open an account, but asked him to leave the bank.

He alleges they also refused to return Raïs his driver’s licence. When Raïs told them he wasn’t leaving without it, he said the teller called the police. 

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According to Raïs, two police officers showed up, checked his ID cards — which were determined to be authentic — and told him to leave and to not return to that branch.

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Along with Babineau, he has filed a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission due to what he called anti-Arab bias from TD staff. He said they “treated him like a criminal” by assuming his IDs were fraudulent.

Global News reached out to both TD and CIBC banks, and they both released statements regarding the claims.

READ MORE: Hate crimes spike in Montreal after Quebec City mosque shooting

“We are sorry Mr. Rais had a negative experience with us and while it is not appropriate to discuss the specifics, we would like to reinforce our commitment to inclusion and diversity and also our responsibility to verify identification for security purposes and to fight fraud,” wrote a spokesperson from TD.

The statement went on to say that the company works to fight racial profiling by conducting “bias through awareness” training programs for its employees.

In CIBC’s statement, a company spokesperson wrote that Babineau’s experience does not reflect the company’s values and that they are investigating the matter.

They added that they are “committed to delivering a respectful experience to each of our clients when they meet with our team members.”

Community groups have strong reaction to Montreal police racial profiling report
Community groups have strong reaction to Montreal police racial profiling report