Ontario will ban carding, street checks

Yasir Naqvi By Gerald V. Paul
Yasir Naqvi
By Gerald V. Paul

The Ontario government says it will ban the practice known as carding or street checks, noting police must inform people that they do not have to provide identifying information under the new regulations.

“This regulation is the first of its kind in our province’s history. It sets out rights for the individual and clear rules for police officers in an area that never had them before,” Community and Public Safety Minister Yasir Naqvi said.

Starting Jan. 1, 2017, race is prohibited from being any part of a police officer’s reason for attempting to collect someone’s identifying information.

Police must tell people they have a right not to talk with them and refusing to co-operate or walking away cannot then be used as reasons to compel information.

Police can gather personal information during routine traffic stops, when someone is being arrested or detained, or when a search warrant is executed.

Naqvi said, “This is about building safer communities, and don’t think anybody can put a cost or a price on that very important, fundamental value of our society.”

But the government admitted it has no idea how much it will cost to train more than 26,000 officers on the regulations, which state that police must provide a reason for requesting identifying information.

He said, “Of course there’s costs involved but we need to make sure that this cost will result in trust and respect between our police and our communities.” He stressed that this is about building safer communities.

The government is also promising a roundtable of experts to advise the Ontario Police College on the development of new training for officers on racism, bias awareness and discrimination. It said all officers will be trained by Jan. 1.

The province wanted to ban arbitrary stops after hearing from many people of visible minorities who said the human rights code was being ignored by police who stopped them for no apparent reason.

Under the regulations, officers must offer a written record of any interactions with the public, including their name and badge number, and information on how to contact the independent police review director.