Canada, often hailed for its warm and welcoming society, is renowned for having one of the best legal systems in the world. With its open governance, low corruption, and emphasis on education, the criminal justice system is generally regarded as effective and fair. However, beneath this reputation lies a complex reality of impartiality that warrants closer examination. While Canada prides itself on its diversity and multiculturalism, there have been reports of unfair treatment, biased trials, and disproportionate penalties for certain groups of individuals. This article dives into this phenomenon and sheds light on who may be most vulnerable to criminal injustice and potential wrongful convictions.
The Foundation of Fairness in Canadian Law
The principle of fairness is firmly entrenched in both national and international law. Ideally, all individuals involved in any criminal matter—a victim, witness, or defendant—should receive unbiased treatment without prejudice. In this context, prejudice refers to the unfair stereotyping or mistreatment of individuals based on factors beyond their control, such as age, race, sexuality, or national origin.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in Article 7, enshrines the notion that everyone is equal before the law and is "entitled to equal protection against any discrimination." Expanding on this, the Canadian Human Rights Act explicitly lists the prohibited grounds of discrimination, which include race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status, family status, genetic characteristics, disability, and even convictions for which pardons or record suspensions have been granted.
In light of both international and national legal frameworks, it is essential for all Canadians to feel secure and treated fairly, regardless of their circumstances.
Addressing the Question of Racial Bias
While Canadian law upholds the ideals of freedom and equality, their consistent implementation is a subject of debate.
Canada has evolved into a mosaic of cultures and backgrounds, and many Canadians take pride in belonging to such a diverse society. The sense of unity and inclusivity, irrespective of gender, race, or sexuality, binds the nation together. However, it would be important to acknowledge that Canada still faces challenges in achieving complete equality, especially when issues of race or ethnicity are involved.
Evidently, racial discrimination persists in various aspects of society, such as job hunting. Research by Northwestern University, Harvard University, and Sciences Po highlights that non-white job applicants in Canada are significantly less likely to receive interview calls or job offers than their white counterparts. Reports from the healthcare and educational sectors also underscore that non-white individuals face higher levels of marginalization.
Racial Bias in Toronto & Ontario
Toronto, the multicultural capital of North America and the heart of Canadian immigration, along with the province of Ontario, is no exception to racial discrimination. Amnesty International, a charitable organization, has investigated how non-white individuals are treated within the justice system and exposed numerous discrepancies, particularly concerning black citizens and permanent residents. For instance, black Canadians are more susceptible to:
- Mistreatment while being detained or incarcerated
- Carding, a practice involving the random stop and questioning of individuals by the police
- Physical, mental, and verbal abuse from law enforcement officers
- Higher fatality rates in police interactions
In Toronto, a disheartening finding reveals that a black person is 20 times more likely to be fatally shot by the police in an incident compared to other racial groups. Shockingly, despite accounting for only 8.8% of Toronto's population, black individuals are involved in over 60% of all "deadly encounters" with the police. For those belonging to multiple minority groups, such as Black Muslims, Black Aboriginals, or Black LGBTQI2S, the risk of discrimination and mistreatment is even higher—both from the public and the justice system.
Championing Justice with a Criminal Defence Lawyer
In light of the mounting evidence pointing to inequality in Canada, it is understandable that many non-white Canadians may feel threatened, singled out, or alienated in society. If you or a loved one has experienced unfair charges or mistreatment, know that What The Law is here to fight for you. Our dedicated team of professional criminal defence lawyers has successfully handled numerous cases involving various criminal offences. We value and embrace the cultural, linguistic, and social diversity that defines Canada, and we will support you wholeheartedly, regardless of your social, ethnic, religious, or financial background.
Remember, you don't have to face this fight alone. What The Law stands by your side, advocating for a brighter and more equitable future for all.