François Legault's about-face on racial profiling

The volte-face of François Legault on racial profiling

François Legault in the election campaign.

Reactions have multiplied since the Legault government announced its intention to appeal the decision rendered by the Superior Court on random arrests without reasonable cause. Sacha-Wilky Merazil, who had denounced in Métro the racial profiling of the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) of which he himself had been the victim, denounces a change of speech on the part of Prime Minister François Legault.

On Twitter, in 2020, the latter described the end of random arrests and profiling, “among certain police officers”, as “the most effective measure to concretely fight against racism”. And several weeks ago, in reaction to the judgment of the Superior Court, the Premier of Quebec declared that “we must let the police do their job”. 

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An about-face that Mr. Merazil deplores. “Two years later, he is stepping back from what he considered avant-garde. We know what the problems and challenges of police forces are with respect to minorities. [The government] continues to act as if there are no problems. This turnaround is as if minorities can continue to be profiled. Racial profiling should not take place,” he insists.

In 2020, the SPVM asked Sacha-Wilky Merazil to participate in working groups to fight against racial profiling. Describing this decision by François Legault as regrettable, Mr. Merazil sees it as a signal contrary to the initiatives of the police force to fight against racism, and even to the recent appointment of director Fady Dagher, whom he nevertheless sees with a good eye.

The PLQ and QS castigated the appeal of the decision

This is not the first contradiction of the Coalition avenir Québec (CAQ) regarding racial profiling. The Action Group Against Racism (GACR), of which five elected CAQ members were members, including the Minister responsible for the Fight against Racism, Christopher Skeete, had made its first recommendation to put an end to random police arrests.


“Once again, the CAQ is demonstrating its improvised and inconsistent style of governance. This decision is all the more surprising from a government that said loud and clear that it wanted to do everything possible to combat racial profiling. The Minister has to explain himself!” drops Liberal MNA Jennifer Maccarone, official opposition spokesperson for public security.

Québec solidaire, through MNA Andrés Fontecilla, qualifies the “shame” approach. “It's a huge slap in the face for all racialized people, especially for black communities in Quebec.” He believes that keeping section 636 of the Highway Traffic Act would be tantamount to admitting that racial profiling is acceptable.

Sacha-Wilky Merazil recognizes the government's right to challenge the court's decision – “c’ is a legitimate decision,” he said. “But it would have been nice to see how minorities feel and how we can restore trust in the police. It's disappointing how minorities are going to be profiled for much longer.”

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