Report sheds light on undisclosed racial profiling in Ontario

By Dakshana Bascaramurty
The Globe and Mail | May 3, 2017

Racial profiling in Ontario is rampant across sectors beyond policing, but very little of it is formally reported, the Ontario Human Rights Commission says in a new report.

The findings are based on consultations with almost 1,650 individuals, most of whom participated in an online survey. While most human-rights complaints filed with the province’s tribunal focus on disability and employment, the consultation found there were many who had experienced racial profiling – which would be grounds for a complaint – in the education system, while taking public transportation, shopping at malls, getting treatment at hospitals and seeking employment.

But experiencing profiling so often has also left individuals feeling as if even the organizations that exist to protect their rights are not to be trusted.

. . .

For Muslims, South Asians and Arabs/West Asians, one of the top sectors where they experienced racial profiling was transportation (37 per cent, 43 per cent and 32 per cent respectively). The vast majority of respondents from these groups shared the experience of being “randomly” screened and questioned at airports and when crossing the border.

Others reported being placed on no-fly lists, having their identification questioned without justification, or grilled about their religious affiliation. The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) reported that 15 per cent of all complaints that came to them in 2014 were from Muslims who were turned away from the border without explanation.

“This work reminds us that these experiences are not happening in a vacuum, they are not a figment of someone’s imagination, they are not about someone being too sensitive,” Amira Elghawaby, communications director with the NCCM, said. If nothing else, she hopes the OHRC’s report encourages people to start formally reporting their experiences.

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