In Canada, equal treatment for all is guaranteed under the law regardless of race, national or ethnic origin, colour or religion.* Nevertheless, members of diverse community groups do report being profiled by members of police forces and security agencies based on personal characteristics. Decisions that are described as profiling may be sound in the context of policing and national security.
Research shows that there is insufficient evidence to legitimize the practice of profiling. In the absence of evidence-based profiles, people are prone to fall back on personal stereotypes when making decisions.
Since many decisions made by front-line law enforcement and security personnel are discretionary, documenting them offers advantages. It provides the evidence to demonstrate whether or not profiling occurs and why. Several countries and jurisdictions, including the United States, collect human rights-based data as a means of preventing discrimination. The collection of such data is becoming the norm. Canadian police and security agencies are encouraged to integrate relevant human rights data into their existing collection systems.
Collecting data and reporting is also a show of openness and transparency on the part of agencies responsible for policing and security towards the communities served. Overseeing agencies mandated to monitor the activities of policing/security agencies need to play a role in reporting on human rights issues and in encouraging appropriate corrective action, where necessary.
With proper accountability, the security of Canadians can be safeguarded while protecting human rights.
CHRC/CRRF (March 2009)
*The list of prohibited grounds in the Canadian Human Rights Act includes race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, disability and conviction for which a pardon has been granted.