TORONTO — Does Ontario’s second largest municipal police force consider Portuguese-Canadian or even Greek-Canadian officers within its ranks to be “racialized minorities”?
That might become clearer after a hearing that began Monday before the Human Rights Tribunal, involving alleged discrimination by Peel Regional Police.
Baljiwan (BJ) Sandhu, a Punjabi-Canadian detective sergeant in Peel, alleges he was denied an opportunity for promotion to inspector in 2013 because of his race.
The force denies that Sandhu was discriminated against and claims two of the eight eventual promotions to inspector were, in fact, given to “racialized minorities” — leading to questions about just how broadly that category is defined.
“Apparently the applicant wants to get into the definition of racialized,” said lawyer Glenn Christie, who is representing the Peel force.
“It doesn’t matter what my client’s definition of ‘racialized’ would be,” Sandhu’s lawyer, Kelley Bryan, argued. “It matters what the respondents’ definition of ‘racialized’ is.”
The case has drawn much attention in Peel Region, particularly within its large South Asian community. On Monday, people stood outside the small hearing room with signs supporting Sandhu, while spectators inside had to stand for lack of seats.