"Your Client Has A Profile": Race and National Security in Canada

A Working Paper, Court Challenges Program of Canada

Sherene H. Razack

Professor, Sociology and Equity Studies in Education

The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education

University of Toronto






The full text of this paper is available upon request from the Court Challenges office

This document is in the process of being translated into French.



In this article I examine three categories of people for whom race and national security considerations have come together to result in their eviction from political community. These groups are exiled to spaces in law where fundamental rights are suspended. The three categories are: security certificate detainees, "security delayed" non-citizens, that is, those kept in a formally indeterminate status due to the suspicion that they may present a danger to Canada, and finally individuals cast into a state of permanent suspicion who are either deported, branded as potential terrorists, or shipped to their countries of origin where they are tortured. Racialized groups such as Arabs, Muslims, South Asians, Africans and Latinos who are non-citizens constitute the principal group in these categories although Arabs and Muslims predominate among security certificate detainees. I argue that race thinking, a structure of thought that divides up the world between the deserving and the undeserving according to racial descent, accustoms us to the idea that the suspension of rights for these groups is warranted in the interests of national security. As I show below, race thinking becomes embedded in law and bureaucracy so that the suspension of rights appears not as a violence but as the law itself.



Under Review: Studies in Law, Politics and Society.