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The Charter of the French language and its regulations govern the consultation of English-language content.
June 20, 2005News Release

The Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse wins its first racial profiling case against a Montréal police officer

Montréal, April 23, 2012 – The Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse has won an important legal battle before the Human Rights Tribunal which ordered the City of Montréal and one of its police officers to pay $18,000 to a man of Arab origin who was a victim of racial profiling. Decision (in French)

Montréal, April 23, 2012 - The Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse has won an important legal battle before the Human Rights Tribunal which ordered the City of Montréal and one of its police officers to pay $18,000 to a man of Arab origin who was a victim of racial profiling.

The president of the Human Rights Tribunal, Madam Justice Michèle Pauzé, ruled that police officer Dominique Chartrand questioned Milad Rezko without reasonable cause, hurled racist insults at him, resorted to disproportionate identification checks and ticketed him based on prejudice, behaving in an abusive manner and resorting to racial profiling.

The case dates back to March 2007. At the wheel of a Jaguar, a garment industry sales representative of Lebanese origin was delivering documents and samples to a business associate at the end of the day. He parked his car in front of the Chabanel district business in Montréal and called his associate, asking that someone be sent to pick up the samples and the documents. His associate’s brother, Milad Rezko, wearing only a T-shirt despite the cold was dispatched and got into the front passenger seat of the car to exchange a few words with the man.

A few minutes later, officer Chartrand, patrolling the area and noticing the Jaguar and its two male passengers, pulled up behind the car, lights flashing. He walked over and asked the men for identification. He suggested that Mr. Rezko’s seat belt was not fastened and an altercation ensued as Mr. Rezko did not have his identification papers with him.

The Tribunal accepted Mr. Rekzo’s version of the event. He told the told the police officer in French: “I swear, I don’t have my ID on me,” as he made the sign of the cross. Officer Chartrand then replied: “I don’t give a f…k about your Buddhism or Catholicism, all Arabs are liars.” According to Mr. Rezko, the police officer spoke loudly and many people stopped to watch what was going on.

Justice Pauzé ruled that the officer not only made discriminatory remarks but pursued him relentlessly, spending 53 minutes checking the identification of someone who had not committed any infraction to the Highway Safety Code and that could not reasonably be suspected of having committed a crime, therefore submitting Mr. Rezko to a treatment that was unusual and different.

During his testimony, the officer admitted that, as he was giving Mr. Rezko the ticket, he also threatened to charge him with obstruction to justice, explaining that he makes such threats when he believes that a person is lying. Mr. Rezko challenged the ticket in municipal court and was acquitted on May 15, 2008. In the meantime, he filed a complaint with the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse.

In her ruling, Justice Pauzé said she recognized the sincerity of the testimonies of both Mr. Rezko and the sales representative. However, she found that the police officer had a “very vague” recollection of the events and his memory was, at best “uneven”.

The president of the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse, Gaétan Cousineau, today hailed the precedent-setting ruling. He noted the fact that this case is the first time the Human Rights Tribunal has heard full representations in a racial profiling case. The ruling reveals the principles developed in case law and doctrine relating to racial profiling in order to identify the relevant components in weighing the evidence in this case and the main characteristics ascribed to discriminatory profiling in Canadian law.

Mr. Cousineau pointed out that the judge mentioned in her ruling the definition of racial profiling adopted by the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse in 2005 and the Commission’s consultation report on racial profiling and systemic discrimination of racialized youth released in May 2011.
In its decision, the Tribunal ordered the City of Montréal and officer Chartrand to pay $10,000 in moral damages. The police officer has also been ordered to pay an additional $8,000 in punitive damages to Mr. Rezko.

Mr. Cousineau also reiterated Justice Pauzé’s remarks in her ruling, calling on “police authorities to work with determination to solve these complex problems" such as systemic discrimination and racial profiling. He also said he hoped the City of Montréal will accept the Tribunal’s ruling and will not seek permission to appeal it.


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Contact :
Patricia Poirier
514 873-5146 or 1 800 361-5146 ext.358
patricia.poirier@cdpdj.qc.ca