Racial and Ethnic Profiling: Statutory Discretion, Constitutional Remedies and Democratic Accountability

Osgoode Hall Law Journal, Vol. 41, pp. 1-36, 2003

35 Pages Posted: 28 May 2008 Last revised: 11 Sep 2017

See all articles by Sujit Choudhry

Sujit Choudhry

Center for Constitutional Transitions; Center for Global Constitutionalism, WZB Berlin Social Science Center

Kent Roach

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law

Date Written: 2003

Abstract

Given the prominence of the issue of racial, ethnic, and religious profiling in the public debate about terrorism, it is significant that Canada's two legislative responses to September 11 - the Anti-terrorism Act and the proposed Public Safety Act - are silent on the issue, neither explicitly authorizing profiling nor expressly banning it. In this article, we focus on the constitutional remedies available for profiling in the face of these statutory silences, and the implication that the choice of remedies holds for both remedial efficacy and democratic accountability. Contrary to the position held by the majority of the Supreme Court in Little Sisters v. Canada, we argue that if profiling were to take place pursuant to an exercise of statutory discretion, the statute itself should be constitutionally challenged and struck down because the infringement of the right to equality is not "prescribed by law." The result would be to force the issue of profiling back onto the legislative and democratic agenda. By contrast, focusing the challenge on the exercise of discretion would trigger remedies under section 24 that would be largely ineffective and retrospective, which would not trigger democratic debate.

Suggested Citation

Choudhry, Sujit and Roach, Kent, Racial and Ethnic Profiling: Statutory Discretion, Constitutional Remedies and Democratic Accountability (2003). Osgoode Hall Law Journal, Vol. 41, pp. 1-36, 2003. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1137651

Sujit Choudhry (Contact Author)

Center for Constitutional Transitions ( email )

HOME PAGE: constitutionaltransitions.org

Center for Global Constitutionalism, WZB Berlin Social Science Center ( email )

Reichpietschufer 50
D-10785 Berlin, 10785
Germany

Kent Roach

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law ( email )

Toronto, Ontario M5S 1A1
Canada
416-946-5645 (Phone)
416-978-2648 (Fax)

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