Frequently asked questions
No. The Commissaire is a totally independent institution, and his staff is made up exclusively of civilians. Moreover, if an investigator of the Commissaire was a police officer in the past, he or she may not be assigned to cases involving his former police department.
Yes. When a police officer from another province or a territory of Canada performs his or her duties in Québec by virtue of an authorization issued under the Police Act, a complaint may be filed with the Commissaire à la déontologie policière against the police officer.
Yes. Any Québec police officer who performs his or her duties in another province or a territory of Canada remains subject to the Police Act and its Code of ethics.
The Code of ethics of Québec police officers determines the duties and standards of conduct of police officers, wildlife protection officers, special constables, highway controllers and UPAC investigators in the relations with the public in the performance of their duties.
Yes. The services of the Commissaire are completely free.
No. At no stage of the process is it necessary for a complainant to retain the services of a lawyer.
No. The ethics system cannot cancel a summary offence ticket or an accusation.
No. The ethics system cannot award damages.
What you should do is apply to the competent civil courts. If necessary, we suggest that you consult a lawyer, who will recommend the appropriate course of action.
Filing a complaint
As a democratic society, Québec encourages the citizens' involvement in significant public affairs, which includes police ethics. The police ethics process is generally set in motion only when a citizen files a complaint.
A citizen who files a complaint helps maintain the public's confidence towards its police officers, and develop within police departments high standards of services and conscientiousness.
Finally, the purpose of a police ethics complaint is not to punish, but to avoid a reoccurrence of behaviours that are detrimental to the smooth running, credibility and integrity of law enforcement.
Yes. Feel free to contact the personnel of the Commissaire, they can help you formulate your complaint and identify the elements of proof liable to support the allegations on which it is based.
2535, boulevard Laurier, Bureau 1.06
Québec (Québec) G1V 4M3
Telephone : 418 643-7897
Toll-free : 1 877 237-7897
Fax : 418 528-9473
454, place Jacques-Cartier, 5th floor
Montréal (Québec) H2Y 3B3
Telephone : 514 864-1784
Fax : 514 864-3552
Anyone can formulate a complaint. You do not have to be involved in the events that were the cause of the complaint.
A complaint must be formulated in writing. It is recommended that the complaint be formulated on-line.
The complaint must state the accusations related to the conduct of the affected police officer, wildlife protection officer, special constable, highway controller or UPAC investigator and specify, as far as possible, all the circumstances (date, place, etc.), as well as the facts relevant to the examination of the complaint.
Moreover, it is advisable to forward the documents (summary offence ticket, allegation, decisions, etc.) as well as the available elements of proof (photographs, audio or video recordings, medical certificates).
Do not hesitate to contact the personnel of the Commissaire, who can help you formulate your complaint.
A complaint may be filed on-line. It will be submitted to the Commissaire à la déontologie policière automatically.
If you do so by means of the form (PDF, 44 kb), it can be forwarded by mail or by fax at the Québec office of the Commissaire. You can also file your form in person in any of the offices of the Commissaire in Québec and Montréal, or through all police stations, wildlife protection services, highway controllers' offices or service points of the Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ).
If the complaint is filed at a police station, the person at the reception desk must :
- receive copy of the elements of proof and make sure they are preserved;
- give the citizen a copy of his or her complaint, as well as a list of the documents and elements of proof he or she had in hand;
- forward to the director of the concerned police force or the employer, within a period of 5 days, a copy of the complaint and of the evidence gathered;
- forward to the Commissaire, within the same period, the original of the complaint and the elements of proof that are related to it.
When the complaint is filed in a highway control office or a service point of the Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec, it is immediately forwarded to the Commissaire, along with the relevant elements of proof.
Police ethics processing
The purpose of the examination (± 40 days) of the Commissaire is to prepare an initial file that is as complete as possible, and to set the complaint on the right course. In light of this examination, the Commissaire à la déontologie policière can route the complaint to conciliation, order an investigation or close the file.
The law provides that all complaints must be referred to conciliation unless the Commissaire determines that an investigation is necessary in the interest of the public, for example in cases of :
- serious injuries;
- criminal offences;
- repeat offences.
A conciliation session allows the parties to express their viewpoints frankly and freely. The success of conciliation is based on the active participation of the complainant and of the police officer, wildlife protection officer, special constable, highway controller or UPAC investigator. In a context of collaboration and good faith, both parties, with the support of the conciliator, seek a written agreement that should settle the dispute to the parties' satisfaction.
When the conciliator puts an end to a conciliation session or finds that the parties are unable to reach an agreement, he or she reports it to the Commissaire. The latter then proceeds to analyse the file again and decides on the kind of follow-up to give it, that is, close the file at this stage, or hold an investigation.
However, holding an investigation does not mean that the conciliation procedure cannot be resumed if the parties consent. However, the investigation is suspended during the conciliation period. The investigation can be resumed if the conciliation process fails.
Yes. A complainant who considers that conciliation is not an appropriate option in his case must advise the Commissaire in writing of his reasons for objecting to the procedure.
The complainant has 30 days following the date of filing of the complaint to forward the reasons for the objection.
The Commissaire may then :
- allow the request and refer the complaint to an investigator;
- dismiss the reasons, maintain the file in conciliation and appoint a conciliator. From that time on the conciliation procedure becomes mandatory;
- decide to dismiss the complaint following the complainant’s refusal to participate in conciliation. This measure is allowed, but it is used only as a last resort, and after the Commissaire has tried to convince the complainant that conciliation is the appropriate procedure.
Review of a decision and appeal
The complainant's right of review must be exercised within a period and before a different authority, according to the stage at which the Commissaire has closed the file.
Following the preliminary examination, during conciliation, after a conciliation failure or during the investigation
The application for review must be formulated in writing and filed with the Commissaire à la déontologie policière within a period of 15 days following receipt of his decision. In his or her application for review, the complainant must submit new facts or elements.
The review decision of the Commissaire is then rendered within a period of 10 days, and it is final.
Following the investigation
The application for review must be filed with the clerk's office of the Comité de déontologie policière within a period of 30 days following notification of the decision rendered by the Commissaire. The application for review is a written statement explaining the reasons that are put forward.
The decision rendered by the Comité is final and without appeal, following an analysis of the reasons for the application, and of the case prepared by the Commissaire. The Comité may :
- uphold the decision;
- quash the decision and order the Commissaire to :
- continue his investigation during a period it specifies;
- conduct a new investigation during a period it specifies;
- summon the police officer, wildlife protection officer, special constable, highway controller or UPAC investigator within 15 days following its decision.
No. A complainant cannot appeal a decision made by the Comité de déontologie policière. The right of appeal is only exercised by the Commissaire à la déontologie policière. However, within 20 days following notification of the decision rendered by the Comité, the complainant can put forward in writing, to the Commissaire, his or her viewpoint about the possibility of appealing the decision.