Anti-carding group urges province to look closer at street checks legislation

Dec 7, 2015 | News

Knia Singh, president of the Osgoode Society Against Institutional Justice spoke to the personal prejudice that his clients endured because of carding. (Courtesy Hunter Crowther/Humber News)

Knia Singh, president of the Osgoode Society Against Institutional Justice, spoke about the personal prejudice that his clients endure because of carding. (Courtesy Hunter Crowther/Humber News)

Hunter Crowther

A coalition of activists and rights groups is urging the Ontario government to re-examine its new carding regulations.

At a news conference Monday morning at Toronto city hall, the group, which included members of the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC), Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA), and the Law Union of Ontario, spoke about street checks and their impact on citizens, notably minorities.

Carding, also known as “street checks,” is a controversial form of policing that enables officers to collect information on anyone stopped and questioned.

Toronto-based writer Desmond Cole led the news conference, saying more needs to be done by the provincial government about police accountability and carding.

“We’re concerned about police brutality and racial profiling,” said Cole. “As written, Ontario’s carding regulations will not stop discrimination.”

“Don’t fool yourself thinking carding doesn’t happen,” said Howard Morton, spokesperson for the Law Union of Ontario. “If anything, it’s worse.”

Community Safety Minister Yasir Naqvi announced draft regulations to ban carding in October, a move that was widely praised by Torontonians. The new regulations would allow Ontario police to stop, question and document citizens only if they are “detecting or preventing illegal activities.”

But the coalition says it’s not enough. The group presented Naqvi with ten proposed amendments to the draft regulations, including mandatory anti-racial profiling training for all municipal and OPP officers.

Under the current draft, officers would not be required to follow the new procedures if they were actively investigating a specific crime.

Bruce Chapman, president of the Police Association of Ontario, said in a statement in November that the province’s new rules will damage the ability of the police to protect citizens.

“Quite frankly, we don’t believe that our voice has been heard,” said Chapman.