A federal judge has ruled that racial slurs on police force badges are considered a form “of racial profiling” in Canada.
In a ruling that will likely draw further scrutiny of Canada’s police force, the judge said that the use of the word “slur” to describe police was “unreasonable” under Canada’s Criminal Code.
“If one does not use the word ‘slur’ to describe a person’s conduct or speech in a particular way, it is reasonable to conclude that the conduct is racially motivated,” Justice John Loughlin wrote in his ruling released Friday.
Loughline ruled that the word has a “special place in Canadian criminal law” because it “is one of the most commonly used words for racial harassment.”
It is also “highly offensive,” he said.
“The use of racial slurs is neither tolerated nor condoned by any civilized society.
It is abhorrent and cannot be tolerated in Canada.”
“It is an offensive slur, the use and possession of which is considered to be criminal harassment under section 1 of the Criminal Code, and in particular, under the Criminal Act,” Loughliner wrote.
The use of racist and homophobic slurs is also considered to constitute criminal harassment and “it is an offence to utter, publish, circulate or distribute in any manner an utterance, publication or distribution that is grossly offensive to persons or groups of persons,” Lachlin wrote.
In recent years, Loughlins rulings have been used by the federal government to push legislation that seeks to curb racist and sexist slurs.
But the federal justice department has been pushing back, saying that Loughliners rulings do not constitute a new law and are not part of the ongoing debate.
“We don’t believe the words ‘racial slur,’ ‘slavery,’ or ‘whites are second-class citizens’ are any longer part of our Criminal Code,” a spokesperson said in an email to CBC News.
“It’s not a new or unique approach to this issue.”
The ruling comes amid a growing debate in Canada over racial profiling.
It comes as Canada’s top cop is being investigated for allegedly using racial slurs while speaking to an Indigenous man.
Earlier this month, Canada’s justice minister apologized after he was accused of using the slur while speaking at a conference in Ottawa.
He said he was speaking about the “very important” work of the National Aboriginal Police Chiefs’ Association.
Lachllin wrote that it was a “mistake” to use the slur during the conference, which was attended by the chief’s son.
“I do not condone the use or dissemination of the racial slur, and I am sorry it has happened, but the words used by you are offensive to me, and it is inappropriate for me to use them,” he wrote.
“They do not belong on a badge.”
Loughler’s ruling came after Loughslin ruled in 2012 that racial slur laws are unconstitutional.
It was one of two rulings by the judge that found the use racial slurs constitutes a “law of general applicability.”
The other ruling was in 2013, which found racial slur use was illegal in Canada but said it should not be a factor in the determination of whether a law was constitutional.
“That decision has not yet been appealed,” said a spokesperson for Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, who is currently reviewing Loughlins ruling.