Quebec tables police reform bill aimed at improving oversight, regaining public trust


Published December 8, 2021 at 4:01 pm

Quebec plans to broaden the powers of its police watchdog agency to include all alleged offences committed by officers as part of an omnibus bill tabled today.

Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault presented Bill 18, wide-ranging legislation aimed at improving oversight of police work and restoring public confidence.

The bill includes 40 of the 138 recommendations from an advisory committee on police tabled last May.

One major element of the bill would involve transferring all investigations involving police officers to the Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes, which currently investigates cases where civilians are killed or injured during police operations as well as sexual assault allegations.

The bill also includes provisions allowing the Public Security Department to compel police forces to follow its instructions, for example if the province wanted to outlaw random police street checks of citizens.

The bill gives more power to the police ethics commissioner and more latitude to conduct investigations of ethical breaches.

It would also allow a judge or a justice of the peace to compel the release of certain information during searches for missing persons — a key recommendation stemming from a coroner’s report into the deaths of two young Quebec sisters at the hands of their father in July 2020.

Under the proposed law, police forces will also be able to hire people who haven’t attended the police academy as full-time members, which will make it possible for them to add experts in fields such as technology, law and taxation.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 8, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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