‘Carding’ checks to be reviewed

The Canadian Press
Allison Jones

TORONTO–An Ontario judge who recently led a review into police oversight will look into whether the practice of police street checks, known as “carding,” is consistent with the provincial government’s goal of eliminating systemic racism.
The Liberal government has appointed Appeal Court Justice Michael Tulloch to conduct a review of how a new street check regulation has been implemented.
Ontario introduced “carding” rules last year, outlining that police must inform people that they don’t have to provide identifying information during street checks, and that refusing to co-operate or walking away then cannot be used as reasons to compel information.
The aim was to end arbitrary stops, especially those based on race, though anti-carding advocates have called for the practice to be abolished entirely.
Race is prohibited as forming any part of a police officer’s reason for attempting to collect someone’s identifying information.
Street checks started coming under intense scrutiny several years ago amid data showing officers disproportionately were stopping black and other racialized people.
Police argued they simply go where the crime is, and that stopping people ostensibly at random, asking for identification, and recording the information is useful.
Under the new regulations, officers must offer a written record of any interactions with the public, including their name and badge number, along with information on how to contact the independent police review director.
Tulloch will report by Jan. 1, 2019 on whether the continued use of “carding” reflects the government’s plan to eliminate systemic racism.
He will make recommendations on how consistently the rules are applied, compliance by police officers, oversight mechanisms of the regulation, and if additional changes are necessary.
“Our government is committed to building safer communities and protecting individual rights–and that is what the regulation on street checks was designed to do,” Community Safety and Correctional Services minister Marie-France Lalonde said in a statement.
“Justice Tulloch’s review will help the government ensure this regulation is contributing to our vision of a fairer, safer Ontario,” she added.
Ontario human rights commissioner Renu Mandhane said in a statement that she is confident Tulloch will address some of the limitations of the current rules.
She previously has cited concerns about whether the rules apply to street checks in the context of investigating a specific offence, the lack of a requirement for officers to tell people they can leave a street check, and the lack of a requirement to tell youth they can contact a parent or guardian.