Carding. A final word …. for now.

The Toronto Police Services Board unanimously voted to reinstate a reformed and stricter carding policy at its Thursday, June 18th meeting. However, the Ontario government intends to weigh in with its own province wide regulations this fall. In the meantime, we sent off a comment to the MCSCS minister ahead of that Toronto Police board meeting:-
June 18, 2015

The Honourable Yasir Naqvi,
Minister of Community Safety & Correctional Services,
18th Floor,
George Drew Building, 25 Grosvenor Street,
Toronto, ON M7A 1Y6

Re: Carding

Dear Minister Naqvi:

The Toronto Police Service seems to have painted itself into a corner on the carding issue, but it is very adept at wriggling out of tight spots.

Of course, our police officers should be talking to people. Absolutely.

Nonetheless, no person is required under any circumstance, for any reason, or in any situation to speak to the police……ever. No piece of legislation you recommend will change that.

It could be argued that the best you can accomplish by regulating carding is to permit police intimidation of the citizenry under some controls.

You have a challenge ahead of you.

Yours truly,

Charles H. Klassen

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Gotta Minute? (12)

Harry Truman was probably the most underrated American President of the 20th century. Times were very different then. For instance, after Dwight Eisenhower was inaugurated in January of 1952, Harry and Bess drove home to Missouri in their own car. No Secret Service followed them.

He shared many of his insights over the years. This one is timeless…and fun. “My choices in life were either to be a piano player in a whore house or a politician. And to tell the truth, there’s hardly any difference!”

Pity the Harper supporter

Stephen Harper is the current Prime Minister of Canada. He is not God. He is not the King. He is the first minister of the government of the day and the leader of the party in power. Notwithstanding his “progresses” across Canada and around the world with an entourage that gives the appearance that there’s an imminent threat to his safety, along with an inflated sense of his own importance, Mr. Harper is in truth the point person among a group of men and women who occupy Ottawa’s seats of power and influence.

Maybe it’s our fault when we focus so much on the leaders of political parties and infuse them with egotism beyond what is the reality of the position. Stephen Harper doesn’t seem to mind the attention but the high profile he encourages puts him under a microscope…. just as do Trudeau, Mulcair and May.

In the case of our present prime minister, we could scan our files to come up with a litany of reasons why he shouldn’t be our next prime minister. But, it isn’t necessary for us to go any further than to point out that he supports the torture of teenagers as an acceptable practice in one instance, and feels there is no reason to be overly concerned about global warming in another.

This alone warrants his expulsion from Ottawa, taking his closest allies with him, and we’re proposing too a mandate to have these men and women removed from Canada. Perhaps Texas is a suitable destination….or wherever it is that Dick Chaney is hiding.

Pity the Harper supporter…..not knowing enough to be embarrassed.

End carding? Be careful for what you wish.

The Toronto Star and Globe and Mail have run carding items almost daily since the beginning of the month, and there’s no expectation the papers will give up on a good story any time soon. What had been intermittent background media static against carding for the last few years is now a noisy gong, ….relentless, deafening, demanding.

So, why did it take this long for so many prominent voices to finally come to the microphone when the people in the street have been speaking out in vain since ‘climate change’ came into the lexicon? Was Desmond Cole’s Toronto Life essay really a tipping point with the magnitude to bring out so many big guns?
Pierre Trudeau tried to curb police random stops by retracting two parts of the vagrancy section of the Criminal Code back in the first half of the 1970s, to little notice and with no impact. He thought simply removing a provision would effect change. Trudeau underestimated police determination to evade civilian control. What the prime minister did was the sound of one shoe dropping; he needed prohibitions to force his vision. Was he naive and erred innocently?

Speculation is an academic pastime. Change comes with action.

Of all the newspaper pieces this month, Akwasi Owusu-Bempah’s op-ed in the Tuesday, June 9, Globe and Mail is among the most revealing. He’s currently an assistant professor of criminal justice at Indiana University, and received his PhD in criminology from the University of Toronto, researching the policing of black males in Toronto. He also worked for Ontario’s Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, and sat on consultative committees at Toronto Police headquarters.

“End of carding just a beginning” is an overview of many years of institutional racialization in Toronto, and warns that “if we decide to stop at carding, and consider ourselves satisfied with a victory on it, we will have done ourselves, and our city, a great disservice. If we are going to commend Mr. Tory, it should be for having started a process, not for having ended one.”

And, that is the point. An end to carding will not make for a substantive change to police practice and tactics. It is but a beginning.

Reprinted here is our latest carding letter, this one to the president of the Toronto Police Association: –

June 11, 2015

Mr. Mike McCormack, President,
Toronto Police Association,
200 – 2075 Kennedy Road,
Toronto, ON M1T 3V3

Re: Carding

Mr. McCormack:

I don’t question that ‘carding’ has been “a proven, pro-active police investigative strategy that reduces, prevents and solves crime.” The Toronto Star’s claim that no evidence is available to support your position has merit, but then it may be a matter of the degree to which carding is a police asset.

I contend that what the practice does or doesn’t do is irrelevant. After all, we can offer our police services much more effective tools: suspend habeas corpus, dispense with the need for search warrants, and legislate that identification must be carried on our persons and presented whenever asked. But, both Lincoln and Jefferson subscribed to the axiom that says if we give up a little bit of liberty in the name of law and order, we’ll deserve both and have neither. We should all say the same.

Men and women who train to become our police officers are taught to get on top and take control. “If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear” is police psychology 101, designed to put anyone on the defensive. Tactics that coerce people into doing what they don’t want and don’t need to do are not conducive to a positive relationship between public servants and the citizenry to whom they are accountable.

Carding in any and all the forms it’s taken over the last many decades is an affront to democracy, and needs not only to be abolished, but prohibited as well.

Yours truly,

Charles H. Klassen

copies to: Kathleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario
John Tory, Mayor of Toronto
Mark Saunders, Chief of Police

Political will needed to end carding.

On May 23, the Toronto Star published an opinion piece written by Ruth Goba, the Interim Chief Commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission. It is one more call for our police service to end what Ms. Goba describes as “an insidious practice that contravenes the Code and has no place in modern Canadian society.” The full text (Opinion Editorial: Political will needed to end carding) can be seen at http://www.ohrc.on.ca.
In appreciation, we wrote Ms. Goba:-

May 27, 2015

Ruth Goba, Hon. BA, LLB,
Interim Chief Commissioner,
Ontario Human Rights Commission,
180 Dundas Street West, Suite 900,
Toronto, ON M7A 2R9

Re: Political will needed to end carding

Dear Ms Goba:

I’m 73 years old, white, and in the years since I moved into Toronto in 1959 I have never been stopped by police. For decades though, I refused to carry identification in order to reinforce with any police officer who might question me that there is no legal requirement to do so.

Carding is an abhorrent infringement by the public service on the sovereignty of the people. I’ve told that to the police, to the mayor, and to the people in my circle and the contacts I have. That I have never been stopped doesn’t lessen my indignation that it’s happening to others.

Your opinion editorial makes the good point that until we persuade, or force, our elected representatives to act, the police may continue to do as they please in the face of those to whom they are accountable.

Please keep up the good work.

Yours truly,

Charles H. Klassen
cc: John Tory, Mayor of Toronto
Mark Saunders, Chief, Toronto Police Services

Why is Canada in the Dark Ages?

There were 2.2 million people incarcerated in the U.S. in 2013. There were 1.6 million people incarcerated in China in 2014.

Does the United States have the safest neighbourhoods on earth? What is your nightly news telling you?

Daniel Dale is the Washington Bureau Chief for the Toronto Star, and on May 23rd the paper published “U.S. criminal justice reform gains momentum” under his byline. It continues the saga of a years-long push by both Republicans and Democrats to dump the weathered, worn and discredited tough-on-crime agenda prevalent in American jurisprudence and public opinion since the 1990s for a ‘smart-on-crime’ and ‘right-on-crime’ alternative.

Some argue that for Republicans in particular, money is the motivation. It costs more for the State to kill a person than it does to keep them in prison for life. State spending on corrections in 1990 was 16.9 billions of dollars; by 2013 the figure was 51.9 billion. Regardless, change is coming, and while Washington may not lead the way in spite of the consensus among federal lawmakers, change is coming notably fast at the state level, especially in conservative-led states.

The movement is making for odd bedfellows. The conservative billionaire Koch brothers, liberal billionaire George Soros, Hillary Clinton and Rand Paul, Newt Gingrich and Bill Clinton are all standing for justice and prison reforms. Even Ted Cruz believes mandatory minimums should be slashed and judges granted more flexibility. He wants government to stop creating new crimes, and it should make the plea bargain fairer by forcing prosecutors to disclose evidence helpful to the accused.

Is it any wonder countries like New Zealand, Australia, the U.S.A., and the United Kingdom have been looking askance at Canada over the last few years? When you point a gun at your foot and pull the trigger, you will shoot yourself in the foot. It seems a lot of Canadians don’t know that, and our current federal government sees ignorance as fertile ground for votes.

So, why is Canada in the Dark Ages? You’re not paying attention, that’s why.