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Ontario Human Rights Commission takes action on racial profiling

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December 9, 2002

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For immediate publication

Toronto - The Ontario Human Rights Commission will hold an inquiry into the effects of racial profiling on communities, Chief Commissioner Keith Norton announced today on the eve of International Human Rights Day.

After meeting with community leaders, the Chief Commissioner noted that a measure of the human cost of profiling has been missing from the public debate. "There is a need to gauge the impact of this inappropriate practice. This is not another study on racism or an investigation of the police services, rather it is an opportunity for the Commission to look into the effects of profiling, in all its contexts, on individuals, families and communities. The inquiry will reach out to communities across the province."

"Racial profiling is wrong and contrary to the principles of the Ontario Human Rights Code. It singles out individuals because of assumptions about them based on their race and subjects them to different treatment or greater scrutiny than others. It differs from criminal profiling, which describes individuals who are suspected of illegal activity. Racial profiling is in essence a form of stereotyping and demeans essential human dignity. Targeted groups feel stigmatized and devalued in our community."

In a letter sent to Premier Eves, Mr. Norton outlined his concern about the existence of racial profiling and its effects on several groups in the community and called on government leaders to get involved in the search for solutions.

"It is critically important that the Commission engage the community in addressing these issues to advance the recognition of the dignity and worth of every citizen," added Mr. Norton.

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François Larsen