An Angus Reid Institute poll recently reinforced what people of colour in Canada have said for years: that the country’s visible minorities don’t feel they can trust the justice system as much as other Canadians do.
The poll results — released on Feb. 20 — came on the heels of a Saskatchewan jury’s not-guilty verdict in the trial of a white farmer accused of killing Colten Boushie, a young Indigenous man.
Three days after the results were published, another jury returned a not-guilty verdict in the trial of a white man accused of murdering Tina Fontaine, a 15-year-old Indigenous girl.
These cases and others have reignited nationwide conversations about race and Canada’s justice system. Many advocates say the justice system not only doesn’t work for visible minorities, but that it also works against them.
Marci Ien, an award-winning journalist and host of CTV’s The Social, wrote a column published by the Globe and Mail on Feb. 26 in which she described a frightening encounter with a police officer.
Ien, a woman of colour, told how she was pulled over by an officer in the driveway of her Toronto home, shouted at, questioned about whether she lived there, and ultimately given a warning for a rolling stop she’d allegedly made half a kilometer from her home.
Ien argued the incident was racially motivated and said it was the third time in eight months she’d been stopped by police without having broken any law.
It left her feeling shaken and frustrated.
“If you are black in Canada, you are subject to a different standard and, often, seemingly, different laws,” she said in the column.
The Angus Reid report on confidence in the justice system offers hard evidence that Ien and the families of Colten Boushie and Tina Fontaine are far from alone in their mistrust of police and courts in Canada.
The poll found 48 per cent of minorities have faith in the RCMP, versus 64 per cent of non-minorities, that 46 per cent of minorities in Quebec and Ontario have faith in their provincial police versus 71 per cent of non-minorities and that 50 per cent of minorities have faith in their local police, versus 65 per cent of non-minorities.
Faith in the provincial and Supreme Courts is low among visible minorities and non visible minorities, but there is still a gap of between seven and nine per cent between the two groups, with visible minorities showing less confidence.
When it comes to the police, how do you feel? Let us know in the comments below and be sure to vote in our poll above!