October 18, 2017
The Honourable Ralph Goodale and The Honourable Ahmed Hussen
House of Commons
Dear Honourable Ministers of Public Safety and Immigration:
Re: RCMP Racial and Religious Profiling at the Quebec Border
The Canadian Muslim Lawyers Association (CMLA) with the support of the Canadian Association of Black Lawyers (CABL) is requesting that the RCMP use of a discriminatory guide to screen Muslim asylum seekers at the Roxham Road Quebec border crossing be promptly investigated and the individuals involved be held accountable. Further, we are requesting confirmation that the data collected pursuant to the improper questions be deleted by the RCMP and any agencies the data was shared with.
This misconduct is a significant breach of trust by the RCMP. Even if the guide was only sanctioned and used at a “local level”, it is essential that the federal government take corrective action to remove the persons involved. As your Ministries are aware, many of the asylum seekers are also racialized, adding a further dimension to the insidious nature of this behaviour.
Although we are grateful that both Ministers declared that use of the racist questions in the “screening guide” will cease, more must be done to restore confidence in the Muslim community that this misconduct is being addressed.
This is not the first time that serious allegations of discrimination by government officials against Muslims has been in the spotlight. In 2006, in response to the Arar tragedy, recommendations 19 and 20 of the Commission of Inquiry into the Actions of Canadian Officials in Relation to Maher Arar specifically advised the RCMP, CBSA and CSIS to improve training of their staff to prevent racial and religious profiling. However, the recent law suit brought by several CSIS employees alleging that some CSIS managers discriminate against Muslims and that there is no accountability when this misconduct is reported, suggests training and oversight remain inadequate.
The discriminatory screening guide used by the RCMP is indicative of a larger problem that must not be ignored. There is a continuing systemic discrimination problem that demands nothing less than thorough and transparent oversight. We welcome the opportunity to engage in further dialogue with your Ministries about how to improve training and oversight. No Canadian official that treats anyone in a racist manner should be permitted to hold a position of trust.
Chair, Canadian Muslim Lawyers Association
CC: Shawn Richard
Chair, Canadian Association of Black Lawyers