TORONTO, February 6, 2002 - The Canadian Race Relations Foundation is pleased to see that Canada Customs has agreed to settle with Selwyn Pieters who had filed a complaint that a customs search of his luggage was based on racial profiling.
"Canada Customs' pledge to hire an antiracism expert to train officers, collect race-based data on those selected for searches, inform those selected for searches of the reason for the inspection, and to meet with community groups about Canada Customs' practices are precisely the types of initiatives that should be more commonplace for public and private institutions and service providers," says Dr Karen Mock, the Executive Director of the CRRF.
"The issue of racial profiling and Canada Customs has been in the news before with accusations that travellers arriving from some specific countries were being targeted for searches. Immigration officials have also been called to task for similar accusations, including the infamous case of a British citizen, last year, being detained and told that she did not sound British.
What is most disturbing about these cases is that the perpetrators are government departments which should have as a priority that the public is treated in a fair and just manner. As in the case of a Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) employee who reached an out of court settlement having been passed over for promotion due to discriminatory practices during a 10 year period, many cases are being settled in often long quasi-judicial or judicial processes. Pity the person who does not have the resources to stay with these cases for the duration.
It should be clear by now that preventative action to eliminate discriminatory activities needs to be intensified. Government departments should be a shining model in striking down discrimination; they should not only be embarrassed by these outcomes but severely sanctioned for this conduct."