In October 2002, the Toronto Star ran a series of feature articles on racial profiling in which it was indicated that Toronto police routinely target young Black men when making traffic stops. The articles drew strong reactions from the community, and considerable protest from the media, politicians, law enforcement officials, and other public authorities. Although the articles were supported by substantial documentation and statistical evidence, the Toronto Police Association sued the Star, claiming that no such evidence existed. The lawsuit was ultimately rejected in court. As a result, however, the issue of racial profiling - a practice in which certain criminal activities are attributed to individuals or groups on the basis of race or ethno-racial background - was thrust into the national spotlight.
In this comprehensive and thought-provoking work, Carol Tator and Frances Henry explore the meaning of racial profiling in Canada as it is practised not only by the police but also by many other social institutions. The authors provide a theoretical framework within which they examine racial profiling from a number of perspectives and in a variety of situations. They analyse the discourses of the media, policing officials, politicians, civil servants, judges, and other public authorities to demonstrate how those in power communicate and produce existing racialized ideologies and social relations of inequality through their common interactions. Chapter 3, by contributing author Charles Smith, provides a comparison of experiences of racial profiling and policing in Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Chapter 7, by Maureen Brown, through a series of interviews, presents stories that demonstrate the realities of racial profiling in the everyday experiences of Afro-Canadians and ethno-racial minorities.
Informed by a wealth of research and theoretical approaches from a wide range of disciplines, Racial Profiling in Canada makes a major contribution to the literature and debates on a topic of growing concern. Together the authors present a compelling examination of the pervasiveness of racial profiling in daily life and its impact on our society, while suggesting directions for change.