Q&A with Michèle Turenne

Michèle Turenne, on behalf of the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse, responds to questions from the attendees of our Racial Profiling in Policing conference.

Quebec’s Human Rights & Youth Rights Commission has continuously urged the province to stand against systemic racism. Following a report in 2011, there were 93 recommendations made to the province, many of which were not implemented or were only implemented in part. Ten years later, there was a review that reissued many of the recommendations previously made. Has there been any progress in this area? 

The report had 93 recommendations, but only about 40 of those recommendations were for the policing sector. There were also other recommendations for public schools concerning youth protection, etc.

Some of the recommendations made to police that have yet to be implemented were concerning data collection. We had asked the police to start data collection. They haven’t implemented this so far. There is, however, discussion about a possible project in Montreal.

Concerning data collection, there has been police reform in Quebec, with the issuing of the new green book. The report of all the discussions concerning the green book and the review of policing operations was supposed to be had in May.

One major thing that we asked in 2011 was to have a BEI—Bureau des Enquetes Independents (independent investigative agency). The BEI is a specialized police force that conducts investigations in cases where the police are involved in the severe injury or death of a civilian. So far, that is one of the major points that was implemented.

We are still waiting on many other things, including more diversity, better education, and more training. For most recommendations, we are still waiting. The report we released in September 2020, entitled Bilan de la Mise en Oeuvre, provides an update on the implementation status of our recommendations.

Premier Legault created an anti-racism task force in June 2020, composed of members of his government; however, the premier continues to deny that systemic racism exists in the province. Do you think such a stance can become a barrier to bringing about meaningful change in Quebec? 

We have a mission to eradicate all discrimination. To do that, the Commission will still work on research, education, and raising awareness on systemic racism. We are independent of the government; therefore, we can continue with this mission according to the Charter. This is similar to Bill 21 on the laicity of the state—la Loi sur la laicete. We don’t agree with many sections.

Apart from Employment Acts mandating the collection of race-based data, are there any other legal frameworks that obligate public (if any) and quasi-public entities to collect race-based data?

No, we don’t have any. But I think, like in Ontario, they may be having discussions about implementing this in the health sector. We have many issues concerning race and services. For now, we don’t have data collection in any field other than employment, but maybe I think that it will come.

In this article, Michèle Turenne responded to audience questions on behalf of the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse, as well as its president, Philipe-André Tessier, who was a panelist at our conference.


Michèle TurenneMichèle Turenne

Michèle Turenne, L.L.B., Graduate Studies (Industrial Relations), has been a member of the Barreau du Québec since 1995. Having served at the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse (CDPDJ) since 2001, she now works at the presidency level as legal advisor. Most of Ms. Michèle Turenne’s work is centered on issues of racial profiling, employment equality and the exploitation of the elderly and the disabled. In addition to her functions within the CDPDJ, Ms. Turenne regularly teaches at the university level. She has published several articles and studies on racial profiling and often presents lectures on fundamental human rights and freedoms and elderly exploitation.

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