A green light has been given for two multi-million dollar class-action lawsuits to proceed against Toronto Police and government officials in a bid to ban the racial profiling and carding of community members.
The legal go ahead has encouraged members of the community who have spearheaded three lawsuits against police, provincial and federal officials to end the controversial practice, during which police encounters with Blacks are recorded for future use.
A complaint alleging racial profiling has also been filed against Toronto Police to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.
Heading to court is a $200 million action filed by the Black Action Defense Committee against Toronto Police, Madeleine Meilleur, the Minister of Community Safety and Corrections and her staff, said Toronto lawyer Munyonzwe Hamalengwa, who is acting for BADC.
Seven members of the community who allege they were racially profiled and carded are among the plaintiffs in the action that was filed last December at the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Toronto.
“We have passed the point of no return,” Hamalengwa told Share in an interview. “There is no turning back now.”
He said, and documents show, the case has been assigned to a Case Management Judge by the Ministry of the Attorney General.
“The assigning of a Judge to the case is a very important step,” Hamalengwa said. “It is the beginning of the process and it means the case is moving ahead.”
He said a Judge has also been assigned to handle a similar $23 million action filed in January against Steven Blaney, the Minister of Public Safety Canada, his department and Correctional Services Canada (CSC).
A Statement of Claim seeks damages from Ottawa for the alleged racial profiling and unequal treatment of Black inmates who served time in federal penitentiaries from 2005 on and were subjected to discriminatory treatment.
The lawsuit seeks an apology from the government to inmates who were allegedly profiled and measures be implemented to stop discrimination in jails.
Hamalengwa said a Judge will help guide the case through a series of judicial motions and proceedings that can take years to wind its way through the system.
He said the next step calls for the Judge to issue a case schedule, to be followed by a Statement of Defence to be filed by the defendants within 30 days.
Hamalengwa said there has been little movement in the third suit, one claiming $125 million against Peel Regional Police, former Chief Mike Metcalf and several officers alleging the racial profiling of Blacks by Peel police.
Police officials refuse to comment on the lawsuits since the matter is before the courts.
Community interest in the lawsuits against police is increasing with more than 100 supporters attending a panel discussion on racial profiling last week which was held by the Osgoode Hall Black Law Students Association.
Some students have promised to help prepare legal submissions or conduct research to help lawyers with upcoming litigation.