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Discrimination and Denial

Discrimination and Denial: Systemic Racism in Ontario's Legal and Criminal Justice System, 1892-1961

Copyright Date: 1998
Pages: 304
  • Book Info
    Discrimination and Denial
    Book Description:

    This book examines the historical antecedents of systemic racism in Canada?s legal and criminal justice systems, with a particular focus on the experiences of Asians and Blacks in the province of Ontario.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7396-0
    Subjects: Law

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. List of Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Foreword
    (pp. xi-xii)
    John Hagan

    Clay Mosherʼs wide-ranging social and historical analysis of systemic racism in Ontarioʼs legal and criminal justice system provides a revealing perspective from which to consider pressing contemporary problems. Like John PorterʼsVertical Mosaic, Mosherʼs book is a myth breaker that forces us to look closely at stark social and historical truths that are often smugly denied. The reality revealed is that race and ethnicity have been prominent features of criminal justice in Ontario for more of our past, as well as our present, than most of us can comfortably admit. The larger problem is that as adept as many majority-group...

  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-2)
  6. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 3-31)

    Despite the relatively widespread belief that race relations in Canada are characterized by tolerance and compassion and that Canada is a more egalitarian country than the United States, close examination of the empirical evidence suggests otherwise. We know, for instance, that members of visible-minority groups are discriminated against in employment, housing, and access to services in Canada (Henry, 1994; Henry et al., 1995). As evidence of this racial discrimination, a study by Multiculturalism and Citizenship Canada (1989) reported that 94 per cent of job-agency recruiters surveyed indicated that they had rejected job-seekers on the basis of racial characteristics; a 1986...

  7. 2 Theoretical Perspectives and Methodological Approaches
    (pp. 32-62)

    Most sociological theories offer monolithic explanations of control, assuming that the dimensions of inequality such as race or social class influence the forms and levels of control in a unidirectional and consistent manner, regardless of the social contexts or historical periods in which they occur (Bridges and Myers, 1994). In this book, I present a detailed examination of the diverse historical and social contexts and manifestations of racial inequality in Canada for the period from 1892 to 1961, with a particular focus on the situation in the province of Ontario. The analysis draws variously from theoretical perspectives in the sociology...

  8. 3 Asians: Immigration and Restrictive Legislation
    (pp. 63-81)

    Canadaʼs early history was characterized by xenophobic attitudes towards several immigrant groups. Asians, owing to their obvious physical differences and alleged differences in moral philosophies and habits, were particularly likely to be subject to negative stereotyping and formal legislation that prevented their immigration. In addition, several laws imposed restrictions on the employment, business, and social activities of those Asians who were allowed into the country. As Peter Li (1988) notes, and as this chapter will demonstrate, ʻanti-Orientalismʼ was common among politicians, union leaders, White workers, and employers across Canada, even though each group benefited directly or indirectly from the presence...

  9. 4 Blacks: Immigration and Restrictive Legislation
    (pp. 82-118)

    Blacks have a long and fascinating social history in Canada, despite the relative inattention to this group in Canadian historical sources. And while Canadaʼs admission of fugitive American slaves is often seen as representative of the countryʼs admirable level of racial tolerance, this chapter will demonstrate that, once they arrived in Canada, Blacks experienced racial discrimination throughout the country and in virtually every aspect of their social and economic lives.

    In this chapter, I focus on negative stereotypes of Blacks that were frequently invoked by influential public figures in order to justify discriminatory practices and legislation in several spheres of...

  10. 5 Criminal Courts and the Racialization of Crime in Ontario
    (pp. 119-137)

    Before presenting the results of quantitative analyses examining the effects of race on criminal-justice outcomes, it is instructive to consider the characteristics of police courts and the key participants in these courts, and the influence these factors exerted on the administration of justice in Ontario during the early to middle part of the twentieth century.

    From the late 1800s to approximately 1930, the lower courts in Canada were characterized by a routinization of procedure and an emphasis on ʻrough and readyʼ justice (Friedman, 1993). The lack of attention to procedural and legal issues evidenced in courts during this period, combined...

  11. 6 Drug and Public-Order Crimes
    (pp. 138-174)

    The literature reviewed in chapter 2 indicated that racial discrimination is more likely to occur in the earlier stages of the criminal justice system than in the later stages. Specifically, it is more likely to occur in the context of decisions by police officers than in decisions by prosecutors and judges. The most fruitful context in which to examine such biases is the category of drug and public-order crimes – offences seldom brought to the attention of the police through public complaints, with most arrests being made through police-initiated activity. Some researchers have argued that the overrepresentation of minority-group offenders...

  12. 7 Property and Violent Crimes
    (pp. 175-195)

    Property and violent offences present a different set of issues in examining the treatment of minority groups in the criminal justice system. The exercise of discretion on the part of police officers that influenced the numbers of minority-group offenders charged with drug and public-order offences, and the sentencing of such offenders, was not as prominent in the context of property and violent crimes, which were commonly brought to the attention of the police through citizen complaints. Thus, in examining criminal justice system processing and sentencing for property and violent offences, judicial discretion becomes a more important consideration.

    This chapter will...

  13. 8 Summary and Prospects for Change
    (pp. 196-204)

    Despite prevailing beliefs that minority groups have generally not been significantly disadvantaged in Canada and that Canada is an egalitarian society, the discussion in the previous chapters illustrates that Asians and Blacks were subjected to considerable discrimination in virtually all spheres of the Canadian social, legal, and criminal justice systems in the period from 1892 to 1961. Racist sentiments were reflected in Canadian immigration laws, and the discourse surrounding these laws, resulted in restrictions on Asian and Black immigration to the country. Negative stereotypes of Asians and Blacks were frequently and prominently displayed in the Canadian popular press, and these...

  14. APPENDIX A: Data-Analysis Methods
    (pp. 205-214)
  15. APPENDIX B: Coding Classifications
    (pp. 215-220)
  16. Notes
    (pp. 221-230)
  17. References
    (pp. 231-250)
  18. Index
    (pp. 251-258)