As a defense lawyer and then as an MPP, Jagmeet has worked on the front lines fighting for justice. He also has firsthand experience of the harm that racial bias can do to individuals and communities. Right now Canada’s justice system favours those with power and leaves many in racialized communities struggling.
Canadians must name and confront the reality of racial discrimination in general, and anti-Black and anti-Indigenous discrimination specifically, in our criminal justice system. Courageous change is needed and intersectionality and cultural competence must be prioritized. As Prime Minister, Jagmeet will champion reform and fight for a truly just Canada.
FEDERAL BAN ON RACIAL PROFILING AND STREET CHECKS
Every single day, Canadians are forced to deal with the consequences of systemic racism and other forms of discrimination. Certain groups are disadvantaged by institutional policies, practices and norms. Nowhere is this more apparent than in racial profiling carried out by police and other agencies.
As Prime Minister, Jagmeet will immediately introduce legislation that would:
Ban street checks and carding by the RCMP
Define and ban racial profiling by all federal enforcement agencies, including RCMP, border control, airport screening, and immigration screening agencies. He will also work with local partners across Canada to ensure the end of this practice by police forces in all jurisdictions across the country.
Review what information from carding and street checks has and is being retained in data banks, and shared between the RCMP and other police forces and government agencies. This review will focus on what should be done with this data, with the express goal of dismantling any databases that are or could be used to violate the rights, or negatively impact opportunities (for example, through security checks by employers), for the countless innocent Canadians who have been subjected to racial profiling through this discriminatory practice.
If Justin Trudeau will not act on carding in the interim, Jagmeet will put pressure on the government to ensure that the RCMP notifies those being street checked or carded of their right to walk away and not be questioned, and ensure that police provide receipts of those interactions to those they are stopping.
UPROOTING SYSTEMIC DISCRIMINATION WITHIN THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM
Indigenous Peoples account for almost a quarter of the federal prison population, but just 4.3 per cent of the general population. According to the Federal prison watchdog Howard Sapers, the rate of Indigenous incarceration grew by 50 per cent in the last 10 years. There are also approximately 70 per cent more Black Canadians in federal prison than there were 10 years ago. While Black-Canadians make up 3 per cent of the general population, they account for 10 per cent of the federal prison population.
That’s why Jagmeet calls for the formation of a national task force to address the overrepresentation of Indigenous Peoples and Black Canadians in the federal prison population.
The task force will bring together racial justice reform groups (including advocates and those with lived experience within the criminal justice system as well as criminal justice experts working on decolonization and anti-racism reformation in the criminal justice system) with a mandate to investigate causes of overrepresentation and to make recommendations to Parliament on how to end this systemic injustice.
The task force would also have the ability to recommend areas for retrospective and prospective research into race and its association with incarceration, including interactions with police, charges and sentencing. This will include strengthening the existing Indigenous Justice Strategy, and will also include the development and implementation of an African Canadian Justice Strategy, organized and implemented through cooperative partnerships with Black Canadians with experience and expertise on Black Canadian criminal justice issues.
COLLECTION OF RACED-BASED DATA
Jagmeet will fund an additional task force of racial justice experts, advocacy groups, representatives of Statistics Canada, justice representatives, and affected communities to examine the systematic collection and public dissemination of race-based data in policing, courts and the correctional system. The task force would recommend on implementation, oversight, and public reporting on data to address the over-policing, over-incarceration and under-protection of racialized and other marginalized communities. With respect to Indigenous Peoples, the task force would respect the principles of OCAP (Ownership, Control, Access, and Possession).