‘Driving While Black’: Mascouche resident taking Terrebonne Police to Quebec Human Rights Tribunal

"If you’re a Black man, you should feel safe to be driving," said Jonathan Woodley, who is taking Terrebonne police to the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal for racial profiling. Alyssia Rubertucci reports.

A Black resident of Mascouche, northeast of Montreal, is taking the Terrebonne Police Service to the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal for a case of “Driving While Black.”

“I just want to set a precedent that you know that if you’re a black man, you should feel safe to be driving, whether it’s your own car, your spouse’s car,” Woodley said.

In 2019, Jonathan Woodley, business owner and father of two, was stopped by police because the vehicle he was driving, an Acura sedan, was registered to a woman. The woman is his wife whose last name is Italian.

Woodley alleges he has been stopped by police several times because of this, along with others in the area.

“I’m 35 years old and to hear that there’s still 16 year olds, young Black men, still getting pulled over, still getting harassed by police. it’s really really concerning to know that there’s not really much change being done,” said Woodley.


Jonathan Woodley is an English-speaking Black Mascouche resident, business owner and father of two, taking the Terrebonne Police Service to the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal for “Driving While Black.” (Credit: Jonathan Woodley / handout)


Woodley recorded his interaction with Terrebonne police in July 2019.

“The officer Girard from the Terrebonne Police was coming in the opposite direction, so he glanced over at me and continued on his route on the opposite side of the direction. He drove for about 200 meters, when I looked through my rearview mirror, I saw him pulling a U-turn,” recounted Woodley. “At this moment, I had called my wife, when I typically do, when I’m about to get pulled over by police just to let her know that I’m about to get stopped.”

The city of Terrebonne and two of its police officers have been asked by the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission to pay Woodley a total of $13,000 in damages on the basis of racial profiling and gender discrimination.

The Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR) is accompanying Woodley in bringing the first racial profiling case against Terrebonne Police Service before the Tribunal.


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“The Human Rights Commission is asking eventually the Tribunal to order the Terrebonne Police to basically do a mandatory training of all police officers, including managers, set up database collection,” said Fo Niemi, Executive Director of CRARR. “That’s very, very important because Montreal police still resist doing that, collecting a database on the race of individuals being stopped.”

Terrebonne Police tell CityNews in a statement: “The Human Rights Commission made propositions, they are not a judgment. The City prefers to respond by presenting its arguments in front of the Tribunal. It’s not to say that we are against the recommendations. We have put actions in place in terms of training over the last two years. We take this matter seriously, but we will wait for the hearings.”

This is Woodley’s second complaint against the police force.

“I really want the police to acknowledge that there is a problem and that they’re willing to fix it and that black people or other minorities can feel safe,” said Woodley.

The city of Terrebonne and two of its police officers have been asked by the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission to pay Woodley a total of $13,000 in damages. 

One of the officers involved in the stop will face a hearing by the Police Ethics Committee next month, for racial profiling and two other violations of the police ethics code.

Terrebonne police did not respond to our request for comment.

“I don’t want to see anybody get punished, it has nothing to do with any of that,” said Woodley. “I really just want to be able to get in my car, get in my wife’s car, to be able to drive in peace and wherever I have to go to. Fight it and to ensure that I can live that way and other Black people live that way.”

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