Blue Line

Human rights group calls new Quebec police law a ‘historic setback’

May 8, 2023  By The Canadian Press

May 8, 2023, Montreal, Que. – A Montreal-based human rights organization says that if passed in its current form, Bill 14, which aims to update public safety legislation, would undermine the right of the vast majority of citizens to file police ethics complaints and create a “historic setback.”

The Ligue des droits et libertés (LDL) explains that currently, the Police Act allows anyone to file a police ethics complaint. Security Minister François Bonnardel’s recently tabled Bill 14, however, would restrict this right only to people who are present at the scene of a police intervention as a party or witness, as well as to people who have been victims of inappropriate behaviour by a police officer.

This means that “third-party complainants” will no longer be able to file a complaint on behalf of others, the LDL and the Coalition Against Police Repression and Abuse (CRAP) said at a press conference on Monday to voice their objection to the legislation.

“Although they account for just over three per cent of complaints, third-party complaints lead to 22.6 per cent of ethics citations and 27.9 per cent of sanctions,” said LDL spokesperson Lynda Khelil. “Third-party complaints are very well-founded and that’s what bothers the police. By removing the right to complain from third parties, the bill proposes to create a new reporting regime where third parties will no longer be able to be informed of the reasons for the rejection of their complaint or to request a review of the decision. This is a very clear weakening of the system.”


She said the bill proposes a “historic rollback of the police ethics regime” when oversight of police actions, the fight against police brutality, is a collective responsibility.

CRAP spokesperson Alexandre Popovic is also a regular voice in police ethics complaints, and acts out of solidarity with “those who are unfortunately no longer with us to make their voices heard” and the relatives of victims.

“When I read in the newspaper that a person has lost his life at the hands of a police officer, I have the reflex to lodge a complaint,” said the man who has lodged at least four complaints. “If the police use force in the name of protecting the community, we are all concerned when a citizen ends up in hospital or in the cemetery as a result of police action. It’s not true that I’m going to give a blank cheque to the 15,000 or so police officers active on Quebec territory because the community also needs to be protected against police officers who are quick on the truncheon, quick on the taser or quick on the pepper spray.”

The LDL and other partners have long been calling for reform of the police ethics system for a long time.

Among other things, they want to see the time limit for filing a complaint extended from one to three years and to allow complainants to opt out of the voluntary conciliation process.

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