Edmonton Police Commission votes to allow drivers to self-identify their race on ID cards and driver's licences

In a Thursday vote of 5-3, commissioners voted to write a letter to the provincial government recommending the change.

Edmonton Police Commission votes to allow drivers to self-identify their race on ID cards and driver's licences
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
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The Edmonton Police Commission has voted to allow Albertans to self-identify their race on their driver’s licences and identification cards. 

In a Thursday vote of 5-3, commissioners voted to write a letter to the provincial government recommending the change.

"I think it's a big step in equity as Indians have to carry a treaty status card, which identifies our race. So I think it's a step in equity for other Albertans," said commissioner Jodi Calahoo Stonehouse, CTV News reported.

Calahoo Stonehouse, a member of the Michel First Nation, voted in favour of the move, and said she feels that race-based data collection will help to “leverage systemic change,” which has been accused of discriminating against Indigenous people.

Edmonton Police Chief Dale McFee agreed with the recommended change, stating that some people, like those of the African-Canadian community, “don’t want to be referred to by the wrong community.”

"If you look at our African-Canadian community here, there's many different things that they just don't want to be referred to by the wrong community," he said. "It solves a lot of problems in relation to being able to get the right help and maybe find what the underlying causes are from a health perspective as well…Race-based data is new all across the board. Everybody is trying to find the right, equitable and fair way to do this."

Not everyone was for the recommendation, however. 

"I'm gonna vote against it. I was in South Africa for a year and they do this and it sort of creeps me out. So, I don't have a great logic other than it doesn't feel right," said commissioner Erick Ambtman. 

The vote follows a presentation from Stats Canada’s Race Data Project, which is currently consulting with Canadian law enforcement services on how to best collect and use demographic data.

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  • By Ezra Levant

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