Founded in 1983 - United for Diversity and Racial Equality


Montreal, April 9, 2020 — In recent weeks, due to the malicious association of coronavirus with “Chinese people”, there have been growing reports of customers of Asian descent being victims of racial harassment, insults and intimidation in pharmacies and grocery stores in the Greater Montreal area. In most of these instances, staff and private security guards present on site did very little to prevent such acts and protect these customers.

CRARR is deeply concerned about the lack of adequate and appropriate action on the part of store employees and security guards. Such indifference, inaction or inadequate response is tantamount to condoning racism directed at Asian customers on their premises, and are clear violations of their standard customer service policies and legal obligations.

CRARR calls on all grocery stores, pharmacies and other businesses to assume their corporate responsibility by taking all necessary and proper actions to protect Asian consumers from racist conduct inside and outside their establishments; to intervene firmly to detain, expel or ban authors of racially discriminatory conduct; and to cooperate with police and other authorities in denouncing such acts.

CRARR also calls on private security guard companies to ensure that their employees adequately protect customers’ safety and freedom from hate. Private security guards must, in addition to enforcing current health emergency regulations, rapidly stop and prevent all acts that violate fundamental civil rights of Asian and other racialized customers.

Finally, CRARR encourages Asian customers who are subjected to acts of racism to file formal complaints first with store managers and with the police. The authors of such acts must face serious penalties. CRARR will provide victims with assistance in filing these complaints and other legal actions.

“Stores can be held liable for discrimination by omission, in other words, by failing to take all necessary and reasonable means to protect their customers from racism,” said CRARR Advisor Alain Babineau, a retired RCMP officer.

“As a multiracial society under the rule of law, we must not allow Asian Canadians to be blamed for the COVID-19 crisis and racially ‘scapegoated’ with impunity. An attack against one minority group is an attack on all of us,” concluded Babineau.

Last week, CRARR launched a bilingual campaign with the message “COVID-19 Does Not Discriminate. Neither Should You!”. It has also published on Facebook practical safety tips for Asian Montrealers against racism and hate, which have reached some 10,000 people.