Tory’s new view: Cancel carding

By Gerald V. Paul

Mayor John Tory now opposes carding while Chief Mark Saunders supports it.  National Post Photo.
Mayor John Tory now opposes carding while Chief Mark Saunders supports it.
National Post Photo.

Mayor John Tory has switched to supporting “permanent cancellation” of carding, matching police board Chair Alok Mukerjee’s change of heart and leaving Chief Mark Saunders the odd man out.

In his latest statement, Tory says the best investigative tool the police have is the trust of the people they serve and protect because carding has “eroded public trust to a level that is clearly unacceptable.”

Tory said he will bring a motion to halt the practice at the June 18 meeting of the Toronto Police Services Board (TPSB), with some other parties yet to agree with his new stance.

Tory wants to start with a clean slate and create a policy that advises citizens proactively that the interaction is voluntary, provides some type of receipt and eliminates random stops.

Previously, Mukerjee said he now wants to stop carding but Saunders has yet to sign on, having publicly supported carding shortly after being sworn in as Toronto’s first Black chief of police.

However, when asked this week where he stood after Tory’s remarks became public, he said he is directed by and responsible to the police board.

Carding, the practice of stopping and documenting citizens in mostly non-criminal encounters, has disproportionately affected young, Black males and to a lesser extent people with brown skin. The practice has essentially been on hold since earlier this year while it was under review.

Tory’s change of heart may have been due to Desmond Cole’s documentation of his experience and recent pressure from the ad-hoc Concerned Citizens to End Carding, a group of heavy hitters whose collective voice said: “Let’s stop carding forever.”

“The issue of community engagements, or carding as it has become known, has eroded public trust to a level that is clearly unacceptable,” Tory said.

According to Tory, there was a challenge of perception as to the way he saw the new “community engagement” policy passed by the police board in April as a step forward but the recent reaction from the community was different.

Cole is calling for the database of the police on carding to be destroyed. However, Toronto Police Association wants to keep it.

“Hence their unproven argument that carding reduces crime,” Cole said. “Where is the police association’s data showing that the millions of cards collected on innocent people have prevented crime?”

Meanwhile, Concerned Citizens to End Carding is calling on the Caribbean community to “sign the petition to stop carding now.

“Carding has led many in our city to distrust and disrespect our police. Anger, hurt and unrest have replaced any benefits police may derive from this practice,” Cole said. “If you opposed police carding in Toronto, sign this petition and share it with everyone you know.”

The group contends carding violates the human rights of citizens and is against the principles of the Charter of Rights. It repeats a narrative reminiscent of ugly practices that were historically endured by racialized residents, particularly those of African-Canadian backgrounds, the group has stated.

“We are committed to a Toronto that is inclusive, diverse, welcoming, and respectful, and carding does not fit that vision. Carding has led many in our city to distrust and disrespect our police. Anger, hurt and unrest have replaced any benefits police may derive from the practice,” the prominent concerned citizens said.

Gerald V. Paul
Gerald V. Paul