Montreal city council passes motion demanding end to arbitrary police street checks

Coun. Marvin Rotrand talks to reporters ahead of a council meeting at city hall on Monday, Nov. 18, 2019. Tim Sargeant/Global News

Montreal’s city council passed a motion Monday night calling for an end to arbitrary street checks by local police officers.

The move comes after a coalition of community groups held a press conference earlier that day reiterating their demands for a stop on random police street checks.

In October, Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce Coun. Marvin Rotrand presented a motion at city council asking police Chief Sylvain Caron to impose an immediate moratorium on the practice of police street checks.

READ MORE: Montreal Police street checks: “stopped because of their ethnic origin, not because they’ve done anything”

The motion was presented following the release of a report that found visible minorities are more likely to be stopped than their white counterparts by officers with Montreal’s police force.

“No one, no one should fear being stopped in our streets for no reason at all except their race, their colour or their ethnicity,” Rotrand told reporters Monday.

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Before the motion was debated and voted on at city hall on Monday, Rotrand was sure it would pass.

“I can’t believe that they would vote this motion down,” Rotrand said. “It would be a slap in the face to all Montrealers, not just visible minorities, who make up a third of our population.”

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Community groups have strong reaction to Montreal police racial profiling report – Oct 8, 2019

Rotrand expressed hope Montreal will follow Nova Scotia’s lead, where street checks are now illegal.

“There are ways to protect public security and act legally without targeting minorities,” he said, adding the province needs to jump in and make new rules.

READ MORE: Moratorium on N.S. street checks to be permanent after independent legal opinion finds practice illegal

In Nova Scotia, a moratorium issued in April was made permanent in October.

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As Rotrand explained, that meant police “could no longer stop someone on discretion or a hunch, they had to have a warrant or witness a crime being committed or an infraction of a bylaw, until such time as the province put new rules in place.”

During public question period at Monday’s council meeting, Rosanie Filato, the executive committee member responsible for public security, indicated the administration was leaning in favour of putting a stop to random police checks.

However, Filato said she had proposed certain amendments to Rotrand’s motion but didn’t specify what the changes were exactly.

— With files from Global’s Brittany Henriques and Kalina Laframboise

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