Peel Regional Police, Ontario Human Rights Commission sign agreement to root out systemic racism

A Peel Regional Police cruiser and officer are seen at the 12 Division station. Nick Westoll / File / Global News

Peel Regional Police, its board and the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) pledging to come up with and implement legally binding measures to end systemic racism in policing.

The OHRC will provide guidance on initiatives designed to achieve that goal.

In a release issued on Tuesday, the Commission said “building on principles laid out in the OHRC’s Policy on eliminating racial profiling in law enforcement,” all parties will work together towards “holistic and binding remedies.”

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A commitment was also made to engage with members of the Black community and other racialized communities in Peel Region before finalizing a legally binding agreement.

“South Asian communities, Black communities, Muslim communities, Indigenous communities — just to name a few of the examples of communities that have come forward to express concerns,” said
OHRC Chief Commissioner Ena Chadha.

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Click to play video: 'Community gathers with elected officials over police shootings in Peel Region'
Community gathers with elected officials over police shootings in Peel Region

Chadha said data collection will be involved to probe which communities are subject to differential treatment.

“We will be learning from them. What are their learned experiences? What are the barriers? In what instances do they feel they’re being subjected to racial profiling?” she said.

The proposed agreement, which will include timelines for implementation, will be brought before the Peel Police Services Board for approval in early 2021. Once approved, it would then be brought to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.

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“As police leaders, we must go beyond verbal affirmations. I, along with a consortium of the willing, are making bold and meaningful changes,” Peel Regional Police Chief Nishan Duraiappah said in a release.

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“We understand that the willingness to step out, implement changes, to drive out systemic racism without fear of failure is required and expected.”

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