Systemic Racism in the Canadian Criminal Justice System

Friday, November 29, 2002, 1 to 6 pm
Faculty of Law, University of Toronto 
Flavelle House, 78 Queen’s Park, Toronto.

Papers will be posted on-line on this site.


1:00 Registration

1:30 Welcome and Introduction

1:45 Systemic Racial Discrimination: The Commissions and the Evidence

Zanana Akande, President, Urban Alliance on Race Relations

"Systemic Racism: A Community Perspective"

Jonathan Rudin, Aboriginal Legal Services of Toronto

“What's Next: If Systemic Racism is the Problem - Where's the Solution?”

Professor Toni Williams, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University; Member, Commission on Systemic Racism in the Ontario Criminal Justice System

"Racism in Justice: Does It Matter? Reflections on Responses to the Commission on Systemic Racism in the Ontario Criminal Justice System"

Professor Scot Wortley, Centre for Criminology, University of Toronto

"Racial Profiling on the Streets and in the Courtroom: Evidence from Toronto" 

Professor Sujit Choudhry (chair)

3:00 Coffee Break

3:15 Confronting Racial Discrimination in the Courts

Mr. Justice David Cole, Ontario Court of Justice; Co-Chair, Commission on Systemic Racism in the Ontario Criminal Justice System

“The Current State of Systemic Racism: A View from the Trenches”

Julian N. Falconer, Falconer Charney Macklin

"Lawsuits vs. the State: Private Remedies to Racial Profiling"

Professor Audrey Macklin, Faculty of Law, University of Toronto

"Playing Word Association with Immigration & Crime"

David Tanovich, Pinkofskys

“Litigating Racial Profiling Cases” (WordPerfect format)

Professor Kent Roach, Faculty of Law and Centre for Criminology, University of Toronto

“Equality and Overrepresentation in the Criminal Justice System: Aboriginal Legal Services of Toronto's Intervention Strategy in the Supreme Court”

Professor Sujit Choudhry (chair)

4:50 Wrap-Up

5:00 – 6:15 Reception

Speakers' Biographies

Zanana Akande is the President of the Urban Alliance on Race Relations.  She is an educator, a community activist, and an outspoken advocate for children, women, the poor and the homeless. Appointed Minister of Community and Social Services in the first New Democratic government cabinet, Ms. Akande was the first Black woman member of Provincial Parliament, and the first Black woman cabinet minister to serve in the Ontario government.  Ms. Akande holds a B.A. and M.Ed. from the University of Toronto.  In addition to her work at the Urban Alliance on Race Relations, her current community activities include serving as Chair of the Board of the Toronto Child Abuse Centre, Board member of the Harbourfront Community Centre, and Board member of Women in Educational Administration.

Sujit Choudhry is an Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Law, University of Toronto. He holds law degrees from the University of Oxford, the University of Toronto, and the Harvard Law School. Prof. Choudhry served as law clerk to Chief Justice Antonio Lamer of the Supreme Court of Canada, and was called to the Bar of Ontario in 2001. Professor Choudhry’s principal research and teaching interests are Constitutional Law and Theory, and Health Law and Policy. In the wake of September 11, he has written two articles on the constitutional issues arising out of racial profiling: “Equality in the Face of Terror: Ethnic and Racial Profiling and the Charter”, in R. Daniels, P. Macklem & K. Roach, eds., The Security of Freedom Essays on Canada's Anti-Terrorism Bill (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2001), and “Racial and Ethnic Profiling: Statutory Discretion, Constitutional Remedies and Democratic Accountability” (with Kent Roach), Osgoode Hall Law Journal (forthcoming 2003). With Kent Roach, he submitted a brief to the Senate Committee considering the Anti-terrorism Act proposing amendments to the Criminal Code that would have prohibited racial profiling by law enforcement officials.

Justice David Cole was appointed to the Ontario Court of Justice in March, 1991.  He was seconded to act as Co-Chair of the Commission on Systemic Racism in the Ontario Criminal Justice System from October 1992 to January 1996. Justice Cole teaches "The Law of Sentencing" at the Faculty of Law, University of Toronto and the Centre for Criminology, University of Toronto.   He is the co-author of Release From Imprisonment: The Law of Sentencing, Parole and Judicial Review (1991) and Making Sense of Sentencing (1999).  Justice Cole is a member of the Editorial Advisory Board of the Canadian Journal of Criminology and Corrections.

Julian N. Falconer.  Julian Falconer the person is a husband and father.  With his wife and colleague Elisabeth, he has two boys, Ben who is 7 years old and Justin who is 2 years old.  Julian Falconer, the lawyer, is a senior partner with Falconer Charney Macklin.  In the true tradition of a Barrister, Julian’s practice takes him to civil, administrative and criminal courts at both trial and appellate levels. He has argued cases in both English and French.  A major component of Julian’s work has involved advocacy in human rights and public interest litigation. Some of Julian’s more renowned clients led a December 2000 National Post profile to describe him as a “Voice for the Powerless”:  Julian has been legal counsel to the Urban Alliance on Race Relations since 1992.  Julian co-Chaired a ground-breaking conference in Toronto on the “Alternatives to the Use of Lethal Force by Police” that, for the first time, brought police and community together over the issue of police shootings.  He has argued issues of race at the trial and appellate levels in both criminal and civil courts.  His individual clients have included many families who have lost loved ones at the hands of the state, be they police shootings or prison deaths.  Julian’s more notable work at the inquiry level has included acting on the Donaldson Inquest and representing the families of Robert Gentles, Edmund Yu and Wayne Williams in Coroners Inquests.  Julian is also legal counsel for the Odhavji family whose case is presently before the Supreme Court of Canada on the issue of abuse of public office and the citizen’s right to private remedies against state officials.  Julian also represents the plaintiff, Jason Burke whose allegations against the Toronto Police were the focus of a recent Toronto Star series on racial profiling.  Julian’s civil litigation practice includes plaintiffs’ personal injury cases and commercial litigation on behalf of institutional clients as wells as individuals.  Julian’s practice has also included acting as counsel for lawyers on matters ranging from partnership disputes to contempt proceedings and personal costs applications.  Julian’s academic publications include writings in constitutional law as well as issues of race and the justice system.  Last year Julian co-authored a book for Butterworths of Canada on the Ontario Coroners system.

Audrey Macklin, B.Sc. (Alberta) 1984, LL.B. (Toronto) 1987, LL.M. (Yale) 1991. Was clerk to Mme Justice Bertha Wilson, Supreme Court of Canada, 1989-90; Member of the Immigration and Refugee Board, 1994-96. She was appointed to the faculty of Dalhousie Law School in 1991, and promoted to Associate Professor 1998. Her teaching areas include Criminal Law, Administrative Law, Immigration and Refugee Law. Her research and writing interests include transnational migration, citizenship, forced migration, feminist and cultural analysis, and human rights.

Kent Roach, Professor of Law, University of Toronto and counsel for Aboriginal Legal Services of Toronto in its interventions in Williams, Gladue, Wells, Golden and Sauve. Professor Roach is the author of Constitutional Remedies in Canada (1994), which won the Walter Owen Prize as the best English language law book published in 1994 and 1995, Due Process and Victims' Rights: The New Law and Politics of Criminal Justice (1999), which was short-listed for the 1999 Donner Prize for best book on public policy and The Supreme Court on Trial: Judicial Activism and Democracy (2001) which was also short-listed for the 2001 Donner Prize for best book on public policy. He is also the author of Criminal Law 2nd ed (2000) and a co- editor of The Security of Freedom: Essays on Canada’s Anti-Terrorism Bill (2001). He has been the editor in chief of the Criminal Law Quarterly since 1998. He has served as Law Clerk to the Supreme Court of Canada for Madam Justice Bertha Wilson, Research Director for the Ontario Law Reform Commission's Project on Public Inquiries and Dean of Law at the University of Saskatchewan. He has frequently represented various public interest groups before the Supreme Court of Canada. His teaching and research interests include the Criminal Process, the Charter, Aboriginal rights, the role of courts, anti-terrorism law and policy, and the legal profession.

Jonathan Rudin is the Program Director at Aboriginal Legal Services of Toronto. He received his LL.B. and LL.M. from Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto.  Jonathan has written and spoken extensively on issues relating to Aboriginal people and the justice system. Along with Professor Michael Jackson he was the author and researcher of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples’ report on criminal law - Bridging the Cultural Divide. He also wrote on the Legal Aid Needs of Aboriginal People in Urban Areas and on Southern Reserves for the Ontario Legal Aid Review and on Alternative Approaches to Criminal Law for the Ontario Commission on Systemic Racism in the Criminal Justice System. He also teaches on a part-time basis in the Law and Society Program in the Department of Social Science at York University.

David M. Tanovich obtained his LL.B. from Queen’s University in 1992 and his LL.M. from N.Y.U. in 1994. He clerked for The Right Honourable Chief Justice Antonio Lamer during the 1995 term of the Supreme Court of Canada. Mr. Tanovich is a partner and appellate counsel with Pinkofskys in Toronto. He has argued a number of cases involving issues of race and the police including R. v. Golden (2001), 47 C.R. (5th) 1 (S.C.C.) and R. v. Richards (1999), 26 C.R. (5th) 286 (Ont. C.A.). Mr. Tanovich is also an adjunct professor at Osgoode Hall Law School where he has taught a number of courses in the LL.B. and LL.M. programs including ethics, criminal procedure and the Charter. He has recently authored a number of articles on racial profiling including “Using The Charter to Stop Racial Profiling: The Development of an Equality Based Conception of Arbitrary Detention” (2002) 40 Osgoode Hall L.J. 145; “Res Ipsa Loquitur and Racial Profiling” (2002) 46 Crim. L.Q. 329 and “Operation Pipeline and Racial Profiling” (2002), 1 C.R. (6th) 52.

Toni Williams is an associate professor at Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, where she teaches and writes in the areas of administration of criminal justice, penality, contract law, inequality and the law, and planning law. She has a law degree from Oxford University and a Ph.D. in law and economics. From 1992-1995, she was a commissioner with the Commission on Systemic Racism in the Ontario Criminal Justice System and she was responsible for writing the Commission's interim and final Reports.

Scot Wortley, PH.D,  Associate Professor,  Centre of Criminology,  University of Toronto.  From 1993 to 1995, Professor Wortley worked as a researcher for the Commission on Systemic Racism in the Ontario Criminal Justice System.  In this capacity he conducted several studies which examined the treatment of racial minorities by the police and the criminal courts and explored how both criminal justice interactions and outcomes have influenced public perceptions of social justice.  After completing his Ph.D in Sociology at the University of Toronto in 1996, Professor Wortley accepted a tenure-stream position at the Centre of Criminology.  He was granted tenure in July, 2001.  He presently teaches graduate and undergraduate courses on criminological theory, policing and penology.  His current research projects include: 1) a large study -- sponsored by the Attorney General -- of remand, conviction and sentencing outcomes in Toronto-area criminal courts; 2) a study of racial differences in police stop and search practices; 3) a study that examines the depiction of racial minorities in the Toronto-area print media; 4) a SSHRCC sponsored study that examines the relationship between leisure activities, criminal victimization and offending among Ontario high school students and street youth; 5) a SSHRCC/NCOVR sponsored study -- now in the field -- that will investigate the complex relationship between race, victimization experiences, perceptions of social injustice and deviant behaviour in both Toronto and Chicago; 6) a study, sponsored by the Department of Justice, that is evaluating the effectiveness of Toronto's "John School" program; and 7) a study of how Canada's criminal deportation practices have impacted crime and criminal justice in Jamaica.  Professor Wortley has recently published in various academic journals including the American Journal of Sociology, Law and Society Review, the Canadian Journal of Criminology, the Journal of Youth and Adolescence, the British Journal of Criminology, Criminal Justice, Sociological Perspectives and the Journal of Studies on Alcohol.  He is also editing a book on Crime and Criminal Justice in the Caribbean with researchers from the University of the West Indies.

Related Publications

During the lead-up to this conference, U of T law professors Sujit Choudhry, Audrey Macklin and Kent Roach appeared in a Toronto Star special section about racial profiling on Nov. 25, 2002 (page B2). The articles appeared less than a week before the conference.

Each commentary in the Star chronicles a particular aspect of race and crime and the legal issues surrounding it.

Prof. Choudhry's piece ("Laws needed to ban racial profiling") outlines a definition of racial and ethnic profiling and calls for legislative changes to ban profiling in both "terrorism and non-terrorism related contexts." 

Prof. Macklin's commentary ("Myth of crime-prone immigrant persists") touches upon a false belief that immigrants are more crime-prone than native Canadians, and the difficulty which arises from treating "any crime committed by a non-citizen as an immigration problem in need of an immigration solution." Read Macklin's unedited article here.

Prof. Roach's article ("Hard to prove racial profiling") describes the difficulties in proving before the courts that a person is a victim of ethnic or racial profiling. "It is even more difficult to obtain a meaningful remedy. First you must establish a violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms," Roach writes. Read Roach's unedited article here.