By Gerald V. Paul
“Our government has been clear that we are opposed to any random police checks,” said Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services Yasir Naqvi in announcing the move.
He said the draft rules expressly prohibit those checks across Ontario.
“It also establishes clear and consistent rules for police officers to protect civil liberties in interactions that help keep our communities safe,” Naqvi said.
Naqvi said he is proud the government is moving forward on the changes to help strengthen public accountability and foster increased public trust in police, “essential for building a stronger, safer Ontario.
“The proposed regulation will ensure that all voluntary police-public interactions where police are seeking to collect identifying information are rights-based and consistent with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as well as the Ontario’s Human Rights Code,” he said.
“It will support the province’s police officers by providing them with clear and consistent rules to keep our communities safe.”
The regulation would also establish clear and consistent rules for voluntary police-public interactions where police are seeking to collect identifying information to ensure those interactions are conducted without bias or discrimination.
The draft regulation which will be posted online for comment reflects input and feedback received through online submissions, public consultations and meetings with policing, civil liberties, privacy and community organizations as well as ethnic and cultural groups.
Once in force, the regulation will be mandatory for every police service in Ontario.
The three key parts to the draft regulation:
- The express prohibition on random and arbitrary collection of identifying information by police.
- New rules to protect civil liberties during voluntary police-public interactions that take place for the purpose of keeping communities safe from illegal activities that will require police to inform individuals that they are not legally required to provide information to the police officer; inform individuals that they are not required to remain in the presence of the officer; inform individuals why the information is being collected and provide information about the interactions as well as how to file complaints and access this information.
- New training, data management, reporting and other requirements to strengthen accountability and public confidence.
Earlier this week, prior to the announcement, carding foe Desmond Cole said he is keeping the cork in the champagne a little longer, despite the plans to end random police checks.
However, Margaret Parsons, executive director of the African Canadian Legal Clinic (ACLC) took a more positive view, saying “it’s a historic day.” Parsons noted she has been fighting carding since 1994.
The practice is notorious for targeting young Black or brown men in random stops where no crime has been committed.
Cole says he has been interrogated by police more than 50 times “all because I’m Black.”
Rocco Galati of Rocco Galati Law Firm, the first person to challenge a prime minister’s appointment of a Supreme Court judge (he won) joined Cole in his criticism. “There is no form of carding that’s justifiable in our society. If the police have reasonable and justifiable grounds to arrest somebody, Okay. So be it.
“But you don’t stop the person because of the colour of their skin, no matter what reason they give.”