Narrating Dignity: Racial Profiling, National Security and a Muslim Pilot Before The Supreme Court of Canada
Osgoode Hall Law Journal (55.1), Forthcoming
42 Pages Posted: 16 Oct 2017 Last revised: 25 Oct 2017
Date Written: October 16, 2017
This paper analyzes the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in Quebec (Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse) v. Bombardier Inc. (Bombardier Aerospace Training Center). Almost 12 years after Captain Javed Latif’s ordeal began, the Supreme Court of Canada affirmed a decision by the Quebec Court of Appeal overturning a finding by a Quebec Human Rights Tribunal that Bombardier had discriminated against him. While there is much to celebrate in the Court’s reasons, the decision ultimately exposes and perpetuates a deep unwillingness to challenge the stereotyping of Muslims as terrorists in Canada. In response, this paper seeks to excavate Latif’s fuller story largely through a reading of silences. The Tribunal advanced two discrete but intersecting theories in its finding of discrimination. The Court focused, artificially, on one and found “no evidence” of discrimination. The Supreme Court not only ended Captain Latif’s quest for a remedy, it re-wrote his narrative by moving attention away from key facts involving his interactions with Bombardier. The Court’s chosen narrative also regulated the collective fears and aspirations of Muslim communities in Canada to the realm of the unsaid. At a time when Muslims are struggling to counter popular and official stereotypes that construct them as incorrigible barbarians and outsiders who are prone to terrorism and violence, it is important to create spaces for counter-narratives to be heard and lived experiences to be validated. Moreover, litigants who dedicate years of their lives to advancing social justice causes deserve the dignity of recognizing their own stories when relayed back to them by the legal process. The comparison of the Court’s reasons with that of the Tribunal thus represents a political act of hearing counter-narratives while also critically analyzing the Supreme Court’s claim that the Tribunal had little or no evidence before it to ground its finding of discrimination.
Keywords: Racial Profiling, National Security, Stereotyping, Muslims, Arabs
JEL Classification: K00, K100, K330, K400, K410, K490, N400
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation