Quebec Politician Endorses 'Respectful' Drug-Related Strip Searches of Underage Students

By McCarton Ackerman 02/19/15

Quebec's education minister Yves Bolduc stepped in a deep pile last week with his controversial suggestion.

Yves Bolduc
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Anyone who’s gone through airport security knows that “strip search” and “respectful” don’t exactly go hand-in-hand. But a top Canadian education official has declared that it's a-okay to strip search students suspected of possessing drugs so long as it’s a friendly pat-down.

Quebec Education Minister Yves Bolduc made the eye-raising comment at the National Assembly as he addressed the decision to strip search a 15-year-old student last week at a Quebec City high school.

The unnamed student said she jokingly texted a friend offering to sell him marijuana, but when a teacher saw the message after confiscating her phone, she was ordered to take off her clothes behind a blanket in a private room. She told the Journal de Quebec that the search left her “violated” and “ashamed.” It was reported that the student’s locker had previously been searched for drugs on multiple occasions.

Bolduc later said that student strip searches should be allowed in these instances as long as they are “very respectful.” Local politicians have expressed outrage over the comment and some have even demanded that he resign. An online petition requesting this also collected more than 2,000 signatures.

“It was completely, completely wrong to say that it’s OK to force a teenager to get nude just because the principal thinks that maybe she has some drugs on her,” said Jean-François Roberge, who represents local political party Coalition Avenir Québec. The Commission scolaire de la Capitale admitted that the search was extreme, but defended it by stating it was conducted using “established norms.”

However, Bolduc has since backtracked on his comments after the very public criticism. He said an independent person from outside the school board will look into what happened and, if necessary, revise policies on school strip searches.

“We want to protect students who go to school, because that's what parents and society ask us to do," he said on Wednesday. "But at the same time, we have to protect the rights of people when there are suspicions."

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.