Dalhousie Law Journal


criminal justice system, Canada, racism, human rights, legislation, discrimination, Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms


The Canadian criminal justice system is facing serious criticism for being racist. Certain Canadian laws and judicial decisions in the past have made the legal system an easy target for such charges. Canadian governments have acknowledged the problems of racism in Canadian society, and provincial and federal human rights legislation exemplify efforts to eradicate racial discrimination. However, racial discrimination persists in Canadian society and the criminal justice system occupies a particularly sensitive place in controversies over the role of the state in these problems. Moreover, the equality provisions in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms have quite properly raised expectations that legislatures, courts and policy makers can and must use legal mechanisms to counter racial discrimination wherever it exists, but particularly in the criminal justice system.