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The usual suspects: Racial Profiling against Canadian minorities

Submitted: March 21, 2016

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Submitted: March 21, 2016




Canada is a diverse country that holds many cultural groups representing Asians, Latin, African Americans and Aboriginals representing the multiracial societies. As a result, the country is always at greater risk of having the issue of racial profiling. Racial profiling is amongst the most serious discrimination acts as it involves the law enforcement institutions, which lights a poor reflection of that country’s legal system. While considering the severity of the issue extensive research is carried out with the help of qualitative research methodology. The findings of the research indicate that the extra judicial discretionary powersallotted to police officials are a major reason behind frequent racial profiling cases. The problem can be addressed by making sure the implementation of the Canadian Charter of Freedom Rights and scaling down certain discretionary powers that causes racial profiling.



The term Racial Profiling refers to the consideration of ethnicity, national origin or race by a law enforcement officer in making decision regarding how and when to interfere in an enforcement capacity. More often, police officers profile certain sort of individuals who are more probable to commit crimes. Majority of these profiled suspects are charged of activities by police officers observation.  The profiling of the suspects merely on the basis of race is the most debatable issues, especially in the diverse population countries like Canada. Statistics indicates that African Canadians are a number of times more at risk to be incarcerated and arrested than white skinned people. The most usual form of racial profiling takes place when police search, question, and stop African Canadian, Latin American, Aboriginals or individuals of other racial minorities unreasonably solely based on the individuals' ethnicity or race (Bahdi, 2014).

In a broader sense, the definition of racial profiling includes the use of race or ethnicity as one of several factors in deciding to initiate contact with an individual. In other words, if a police officer to a person partially motivated by characteristics such as race, apart from its alleged misconduct, the official incurs in racial profiling. With that aim, the current research topic describes the cases of “The Usual Suspect”, explaining the common racial profiling acts in Canada. Canada is a diverse country which holds many cultural groups representing Asians, Latin, African Americans and Aboriginals representing the multiracial societies (Ball, 2009). Racial profiling is among the most serious discrimination acts as it involves the law enforcement institutions, which light a poor reflection of that country’s legal system. While considering the severity of the research problem a thorough qualitative research is carried in order to address the research questions.  


Purpose Statement

Considering the following topic, the main problem lies in depicting the consequences of racial profiling in diverse countries like Canada. As Canada is among the most diverse countries and holds over 24% of the minorities, the fundamental purpose of this topic would be to reduce this profiling against minorities. The topic would be based on investigation of the current problem of racial profiling that lies in the following field. So for sake of better equity and human rights prevalence, the purpose statement is defined as:

To investigate and evaluate the racial profiling in Canada and how it affects the social implication on minorities. Along with that, insightful information would be provided to evaluate the existing problem and proposed interventions would be provided which may help in reducing racial profiling and improving Canada relationship with the minorities.

Research Objectives

Some of the fundamental research objectives regarding following research paper are presented as below:

1. Investigation of Racial profiling in Canada and providing with the necessary demographical statistics; associated with this form of racism.
2. To evaluate the source and reasons behind racial profiling.
3. Present the outcomes in the society which have led to adverse social implication in Canada.
4. Conduct survey and forms case study methodology to validate the results from the following proposal.
5. Propose a necessary recommendation to reduce racial profiling in Canada.


Research Questions

Research Questions outline the main methodological section; providing with the necessary knowledge regarding the thematic of this proposal:

1. Why minorities of Canada faced racial profiling in the first place and what are the main reason behind this racisms?
2. What are the implications of these crimes on various Canadian social groups, especially minorities?
3. How can these crimes be reduced and what would be the outcome on the law enforcement system of Canada?

Contribution to the knowledge, policy change or equity

Racial profiling has been accounted in Canada; for that purpose,the justice system has been subjected under prolific changes to address this issue. Like US, Canada has also issued several jurisdiction regarding racial profiling which is describe by the implementation of de jure evidence as it states as:

“The consequence is an emerging asymmetry in the treatment of legal rights in the area of police powers, especially in the application of powers of search, seizure and investigative detention under sections 8 and 9 of the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms and the consequence of any failing in the exercise of these powers as per section 24(2)(RCMP, 2007)

This provides with the knowledge of Canadian jurisdiction of law enforcement units which have been excerpted from Royal Canadian Mounted Police official website.


Theoretical Framework/Literature Review

Racial profiling has been under serious discussion in Canada since the official report of racial profiling against Blacks in Toronto in 1970 (Tator, 2006). After that, the Canadian law enforcement agencies and legislative institutions addressed this sensitive issue and acclaimed several interventions from democratic countries; around the world to help in improving this system. Race is a term that does not have the same meaning for all people and their definition depends largely the reason why is evaluated (Satzewich, 2009). Any racial classification is arbitrary, imperfect and difficult which could say that this is an extremely sensitive issue and subjectivity of nuances. Racial profiling has been quite a problem for both the social societies and the law enforcement units as it prevails racism and discrimination. These reports and intervention is actually the proposed theoretical frameworks which were presented to reduce the racial profiling. America is among the leading resource provider as they were the first to acknowledge this crime and implied several justice regulations against it. This greatly influences Canada towards the reformation in justice system and marking of the Commission on Systematic Racism in Ontario’s Criminal Justice System in 1992. Moreover, the criminal system started acknowledging the racial profiling and in 2003, the Ontario court of appeal explained this acknowledgement as: 

In the opening part of his submission before this court, counsel for the appellant (the Crown) said that he did not challenge the fact that the phenomenon of racial profiling by the police existed. This was a responsible position to take because, as counsel said, this conclusion is supported by significant social science research. (OHRC, 2007)

Moreover, no one can depict the reason that leads to the racial profiling but the outcomes are significantly severe. The evidences presented in this case speak for themselves as the implication of this profiling leads to serious threat to the country. Taking Canada into view, it is a diverse nation with different cultural group representing its geographical, social and economic status.  Representing the population of 35,985,751, 14.7% Asian, 4.3% Aboriginals, 2.9% Black and 1.2% as Latin American explain the minority group living in Canada (OHRC, 2007). According to several reports, the brown or dark skins colored people are subjected for more racial profiling as compared with their white counter parts. The colored people are 3.7 times more subjected for suspicion of crime and unfortunately, minorities represent the majority of population in the prison (RCMP, 2007). Based on that, Canada had been under serious allegation on account of racial profiling, which describes our purpose of conducting the following research. This would outline the current demographics in racial profiling and its adverse implication on minorities and their social group. Furthermore in Canada, racial profiling has been addressed in many legal forums and there are several amendments that explain the racial profiling and its legal response in accordance with the constitution:

The consequence is an emerging asymmetry in the treatment of legal rights in the area of police powers, especially in the application of powers of search, seizure and investigative detention under sections 8 and 9 of the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms and the consequence of any failing in the exercise of these powers as per section 24(2). (RCMP, 2007)

Inequalities are serious and to affect the insertion capability ofminorities in Canadian society, compromise the project of building a democratic country and with equal opportunities for all. Most representation of the prison depicts the sorry evidence that minorities are subjugated against the racial profiling(TANOVICH, 2006). Along with that, it has significantly tarnished the image of Canada and its democratic justice system. Report describe that only in Edmonton, 26,000 people are stopped and asked every year, accumulating up to 105,306 from 2012-15 in just one state (Huncar, 2015). It presents the difference between whites and minorities in terms of access to justice and the information serve as subsidy for a deep reflection on the racial inequality in form of profiling, leading to the suggestion and the adoption of measures that may benefit in the short term for minorities in Canada. 

Racial and ethnic discrimination occur on a daily basis while preventing the progress of millions of people worldwide. Racial profiling destroys lives and communities through its various manifestations, from depriving people of the fundamental principles of equality and non-discrimination, to encourage ethnic hatred that may lead to genocide. The fight against racism is a priority for the international community and is an essential part of the work of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. The United Nations has dealt with this issue since its foundation and the prohibition of racial discrimination is enshrined in all major human rights instruments. The prohibition of racial discrimination imposes obligations on States and entrusted with the task of eradicating discrimination in the public and private sectors. In addition, the principle of equality also requires States to adopt special measures to eliminate conditions that cause racial discrimination or contributing to perpetuate it. This provide with the theoretical rationale of conducting the following research so that it may imply best result in department of law enforcement, justice and social system.



The methodology that is used for this research is qualitative. The main reason of selecting qualitative research methodology is the social factor involved in the research. The qualitative research is further carried out with the help of following research procedures. 

Data Collection Methods:

Considering the Data Collection methods and a rationale regarding my choice, two of the major data collection methodologies would be described. Before that, a short reflection on the research method is based on qualitative research as it explains the social research. Taking that into view, the qualitative research methodologies have been opted thatwould benefit the current research proposal.

Case studies

The fundamental technique regarding the following research is based on the case studies. The data collection method regarding case studies explain racial profiling cases available in Canada. The main reason of selecting case study analysis as primary data collection method is social scope of the research. For this purpose, different case studies that suffered the racial profiling have been taken into an account and prepared research findings based on these primary resources. After arranging these case studies, the necessary research findings, predicting the necessary racial profiling outcomes have been analyzed and evaluated.

a) Survey Investigation:

The secondary technique regarding the investigation related with the racial profiling happening in Canada is based on extracting the survey. This would be a secondary resource as it validates primary data collection method which is case studies. Different survey journals, federal reports and private investigation would be explored to provide with the statistics related with the thesis. This would also explain the current situation of racial profiling and how it is affecting the overall social system.



b) Other Resources:

Apart from survey investigation and case studies, other resources include literature review, proposed interventions and direct observation that would evaluate how this can be stopped. Detailed literature review can help in the following case as it describes the necessary insights related with the reducing of racial profiling. This data collection method would propose a way to reduce racial profiling and would predict the betterment of social systems and relationship between law enforcement units and minorities. 



Racial profiling takes place in several contexts involving security, public protection issues and safety. A few of the instances of profiling are further explained. Law enforcement officials assume somebody more likely to have committed a crime for the reason that he is African Canadian; school personnel treat the behavior of Latino child as an breach of its zero tolerance policy at the same time the same act by another child may be seen as usual “kids’ play”; an employer makes strict security clearance for a Muslim worker after 9/11; a bar denies to serve drinks to Aboriginal patrons due to a supposition that they will get rowdy and drunk. Similarly, an official of criminal justice system rejects bail to a Latin American due to a belief that people from Latin America are violent. 

Case studies 

In order to further put a close eye to the issue of racial profiling in Canada some case studies have been included in the research which are discussed further.



Racial Profiling & Reasonable Apprehension of Bias - R. v. Brown

On November 1, 1999, Olson, Constable of the Metro Toronto Police, stopped Decovan Brown, an African-American and a basketball player, while driving on Don Valley Parkway Toronto. Subsequently, Mr. Brown failed an initial roadside screening examination and was charged with driving exceeding the limit of legal blood alcohol under section 253(b) of the (CCC) Criminal Code of Canada. Mr. Brown, in response, argued that his right not to be subjectively imprisoned or detained under section 9 of the Charter of Rights and FreedomsMr. Brown further claimed that Constable Olson had apprehended him without appropriate cause for the reason that he was a black skinned man driving a luxurious car.  The Appellate Court of Ontario eventually found that the proof, in general, established a conclusion that the decision of Officer Olson to stop Mr. Brown was influenced by racial profiling. The court further held that the conduct of a trial judge in refuse to consider proof in favor of racial profiling would have given rise to a fear of bias (Gardner, 2014)


Racial Profiling - Hill v. Hamilton-Wentworth Police

In the year 1994 1995, there were ten robberies of trust companies, credit unions and banks in Hamilton, Ontario were reported. Police charged an Aboriginal man, Jason Ricardo Hill, with committing the robberies. Throughout their investigation, the police officials released the photo of Mr. Hill to the media sources and also asked eye witnessed to recognize the robber from a 12 people photo line-up. Of the twelve people in the photo, Mr. Hill was only the Aboriginal individual. The witnesses picked out Mr. Hill from the photo. After being clear from the charge of robbery, Mr. Hill initiated legal action against the Police of Hamilton-Wentworth, alleging the breach of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the malicious prosecution torts and procedural negligence relating to the photo line-up. 


Montreal Police Vs Milad Rezko 

The Montreal police official Dominique Chart was ordered by the court to pay $ 18,000 to an individual who was a racial profiling victim. A man of Lebanese origin, Milad Rezko, was detained in the year 2007 by the law enforcement official sitting in an expensive vehicle outside a building on Chabanel Street, Montreal. The man, worked in the textile industry, was exchanging documents while talking to a business partner. The police officer questioned the two men and Rezko criticized him for not having his card of identity or use a seat belt, albeit his car was stopped.  Ultimately he received a fine, which the victim appealed and won. Subsequently, he made decision to take his case a one further and putforth the incident in front of Commission. The court held that the police officer had detained the man without any appropriate cause and had made ??racist comments and acted with discrimination. The trial judge determined that the victim of the racial profiling will receive $ 8,000 in punitive damages and $ 10,000 in moral damages (Mosher, 2011).

Moreover, The Ontario Human Rights Commission expressed concerns regarding accusations that the Ontario Provincial Police had involved with certain racial profiling DNA samples from immigrants located near Vienna, Ontario, as part of an investigation of sexual assault in October and November 2013. "Racial discrimination in any form causes great damage to people and in many cases entire communities. Let's speak out every time this happens anywhere in Ontario, "said OHRC Chief Commissioner Barbara Hall. In December 2013, Justice for Migrant Workers, a promoter of rights of migrant farm workers group, filed a complaint alleging that OIPRD police collected DNA samples from about 100 "Indo and Afro-Caribbean".

In addition, migrant workers did not match the description of the suspect other than his dark skin color. Racial profiling is a key allegation in the complaint of racial profiling victim, and a key component of the OIPRD review. OHRC argued that the allegations are consistent with racial profiling. It has delivered a presentation to OIPRD which shares its expertise in racial profiling. In particular, OHRC called centered workers were requested mainly for reasons of "race and stereotypes of black men and prone to criminal behavior migrant workers".   "Migrant workers are particularly susceptible and hardly ever seek to affirm their rights for apprehension of being sent back to their countries." The practice of OPP seeks voluntary DNA samples in investigations had a disproportionate impact on racial groups and marginalized communities", concluded that commission. Racial discrimination is prohibited according to the Human Rights Code of Ontario, but in the opinion of OHRC remains a daily reality for Aboriginal people and members of racial communities in Canada, specifically black groups.  

While some people deny that racial profiling occurs in Canada and present an argument that those who think that there is an issue are either misinformed or misguided, others argue that racial profiling is a part of the arsenal of police. The police department acknowledges that racial profiling is the most common and usual policing approach. This acknowledgement is reinforced by a study of police statistics in May 2005 which confirmed that young Aboriginal and Black men were more probable to be profiled than people from other communities. The report showed that police in the predominant White city were around 4 times more probable to question a Black as against to a Caucasian, and 1.5 times more likely to profile an Aboriginal individual than a White.

The subsequent discussion section will be sketched out in the light of the above findings and case studies. 



The racial profiling in Canada is much more than an annoyance or a hassle. It directly imparts direct and real consequences. Those people who experience profiling based on race pay the price psychologically, emotionally, mentally and in most of the cases even physically and financially. The findings of the research indicates that “victim effects” of racial profiling comprise post-incident stress disorder and other kinds of stress-related disorders, perceptions of race-related failure and threats to utilize available resources of community. The psychologist researchers like Pollak, (2015) have also examined the impacts of racial profiling on broader community and have educated that community effects comprise confirmation of feelings of fear, financial costs and racism. The research also reveals that the racial profiling impact extends beyond those who experience it directly. In addition, it also impacts on friends, families, neighbors and classmates. It further indicates that the economic and social cost of racial profiling is extensive.

Most people at any stage of their life experience contacts with police. Few experience these as an obstruction to their privacy rights, even when it is determined ultimately that there was no reason for police attention, and the huge majority of such contacts peacefully end without serious outcome. Nevertheless, even kind contacts usually leave makes people wondering for what reasons they were pulled out. For people who feel evident traits for instance age, clothing and skin color non-legally pertinent behaviors make them more subject to unnecessary - and in their minds unwanted attention from police officials, it can be experienced as a infringement. This sense of infringement in itself can result further in a rise of response. Therefore, it can be rightly said that the racial profiling by police officials may raise serious consequences and social disturbance in the country (Warren et al, 2009).

Moreover, racial profiling is in actual offend against several sections of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (CCRF), a legal document which ensures rights of people living in Canada against offensive governmental actions. More particularly, it ensures equality under and before the rule of law, equal benefit under the law and equal protection of the law. Therefore, any uneven treatment or disparity directly impact regardless of the government actions that can be seen as a violation of the Charter protected right. Keeping this in mind, racial profiling cause offense against this right as it permits law enforcers to intentionally subject minority individuals to unequal and differential treatment without adequate evidentiary source (Bumgarner, 2004).  The Canadian law further stresses that stereotypic decisions challenge the decision-making process and its integrity. The decision-makers in law enforcement institutions who work under orthodox assumptions cannot produce accurate, just and informed results. Therefore, when law enforcement agencies detain and arrest individuals for generated reasons by misconceptions, they are in effect violate section 9, as well as section 7 of the charter since individual’s  life, liberty and security interests are being deprived contrary to the principles of fundamental justice. To end with, sections 2(c) and 2(d) of the Charter, which safeguards the basic freedom of peaceful association and assembly respectively, is being constantly impaired by the racial profiling practice, as it subjects individuals to improved scrutiny on the basis of their association and congregation with each other (Wortley et al, 2005).

Allegations of racial profiling of noticeable minorities who blame police of targeting them for the reason of their ethnic or racial background is a rising concern in Canada. In 2005, the Kingston Police confirmed the first case ever in Canada relevant to racial profiling. The case focused on in the Kingston city, a small town where majority of the inhabitants are white people. The study of the case showed that black people were around 4 times more likely to be detained by police as compare to white people, at the same time Asians were less likely to be pulled over than blacks or whites. Several police organizations condemned this study and suggested more studies like this would make them hesitant to pull over visible minorities (Huncar, 2015). 

In addition, Canadian Aboriginals are more likely to be accused with crimes, specifically on reserves. The survey on the Canadian crime victimization does not gather data on the perpetrator’s ethnic origin; therefore, comparisons between incidence of charging and incidence of victimizations are not possible. However, aboriginals make up around 4 % of overall population of Canada, they account for 20% of prison population of Canada. This clearly indicates the way racial profiling prevails in Canada.  In 2010, an investigation of the daily newspaper, Toronto Star, found that across Toronto black people were 3 times more likely to be documented and stopped by police as compare to white people. To a lesser degree, the similar fact seemed true for inhabitants described by police as of "brown" skin such as Arabs, Latinos and South Asians. This was the outcome of an analysis of around 1.7 million contact cards filled out by Toronto Police officers throughout the period between 2003 and 2008. 

According to Ontario Human Rights Commission report, police services have accepted that racial profiling does takes place and have taken measures to address, including spotting out officers at risk of getting engaged in racial profiling, making community relations better, and advancing training for officers (Tanovich, 2006). Ottawa Police on the other hand, addressed this problem and planned on making an implementation on a new policy about officer racial profiling:

"the policy explicitly forbids officers from investigating or detaining anyone based on their race and will force officers to go through training on racial profiling" (Satzewich, 2009). 

According to the findings of the research the theoretical framework has been established which explains that the increasing cases of racial profiling in Canada is posing direct impact on the social fabric and it is caused due to certain discretionary powers to police officials and deviance from the Canadian Charter of Freedom Rights and other relevant polices. 



According to the annual report of the Ontario Human Rights Commission racially biased policing is counterproductive and destructive and must be immediately stamped out.  The commission called on the Toronto police force to end questioning people and carding stopping without any particular criminal investigative reason but the practice is only part of a bigger racism image. The report states

Racial profiling has an intensely corrosive impact, particularly on indigenous and young black men and whenever racial profiling takes place, neighborhoods get distrust and fear” (Perkel, 2015). 

The research paper acknowledges that racial profiling is a recognized dilemma that in need of an abrupt solution. It further urges the police services which has essentially flip-flopped and waffled on the concern to make foremost changes to scrap or carding the entire policy.

Besides discussing about the fears and repercussions of racial profiling, it is much important to discuss some pragmatic suggestions to scale down the issue of profiling based on racism.  There are certain recommendations for police services which can be helpful in avoiding the issues of racial profiling against considerable amount of population in Canada. The police department should limit and guide discretionary powers of officer to question and stop people, gather race-based information to identify bias, make sure transparency through receipts, and purge carding information that lacks an unbiased explanation. (Perkel, 2015).The findings of the research gives a succinct and clear viewpoint that the just and fair implementation of the Canadian Charter of Freedom Rights and the policing policies can scale down the problem of racial profiling in the country. The resolution of the problem will create trust of people in police and will further strengthen the social fabric of the country. Hence, it can be safely concluded that the research has successfully achieved its objectives by sketching out the intensity of racial profiling in Canada, its social impact on the society and the possible measures to resolve the issue. 



Bahdi, R. (2014), Racial Profiling. SSRN Electronic Journalhttp://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1716963


Ball, P. (2009). Racial profiling methods may be flawed. Naturehttp://dx.doi.org/10.1038/news.2009.73


Bumgarner, J. B. (2004). Profiling and Criminal Justice in America: A Reference Handbook. Santa Barbara: ABC CLIO.


Gardner, T. (2014). Racial Profiling as Collective Definition. SI2(3), 052. http://dx.doi.org/10.17645/si.v2i3.126


Huncar, A. (2015, 09 14). Police street checks: Valuable investigative tool or racial profiling? Retrieved 1 17, 2016, from CBC news: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/police-street-checks-valuable-investigative-tool-or-racial-profiling-1.3226705


Mosher, C. (2011). Racial Profiling/Biased Policing. Sociology Compass5(9), 763-774. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1751-9020.2011.00403.x


OHRC. (2007, 05 07). The existence of racial profiling. Retrieved 01 17, 2016, from Ontario Human Right Commissionhttp://www.ohrc.on.ca/en/paying-price-human-cost-racial-profiling/existence-racial-profiling


Perkel, C, (2015),  Police Racial Profiling ‘Corrosive,’ Should Be Stamped Out Immediately: Ontario Human Rights Commission, The Canadian Press


Pollak, J. (2015), Racial Profiling is Wrong: A Doctrinal Comparison of Counter-Terrorism Racial Profiling in Europe and the United States. SSRN Electronic Journalhttp://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1390269


RCMP. (2007, 02 13). Inequality before the Law: The Canadian Experience of "Racial Profiling". Retrieved 1 16, 2016, from Gendarmerie royale du Canada: http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/pubs/ccaps-spcca/ineq-eng.htm


Satzewich, V. (2009). Racism versus Professionalism: Claims and Counter-claims about Racial Profiling. Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice , 199-207.


TANOVICH, D. M. (2006). THE COLOUR OF JUSTICE, POLICING RACE IN CANADA. Windsor: University of Windsor.

Tator, C. (2006). Racial Profiling in Canada: Challenging the Myth of "a Few Bad Apples". Toronto: University of Toronto Press.


Warren, P., & Tomaskovic-Devey, D. (2009). Racial profiling and searches: Did the politics of racial profiling change police behavior?. Criminology & Public Policy8(2), 343-369. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1745-9133.2009.00556.x


WORTLEY, S. (2004). Discrimination or “Good” Policing? The Racial Profiling Debate in Canada. Department of Sociology, University of Toronto: Toronto.


Wortley, S., & Tanner, J. (2005). Inflammatory Rhetoric? Baseless Accusations? A Response to Gabor's Critique of Racial Profiling Research in Canada. Canadian Journal Of Criminology And Criminal Justice47(3), 581-610. http://dx.doi.org/10.3138/cjccj.47.3.581


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