Carding: no grave too deep!

“(Carding) is a form of arbitrary detention contrary to section 9 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.” André Marin, former Ontario Ombudsman

Back in the third week of September, the Peel Police Board, which includes the mayors of Mississauga and Brampton as members, instructed their police to suspend carding. But, Police Act restrictions do not give police boards the authority over operational functions, and Peel police chief Jennifer Evans refused to implement the ‘recommendation’.

That is but one recent example fueling the protests against carding, and which prompted Ontario’s CSCS minister Yasir Naqvi to announce on Thursday, October 22, that the practice would be illegal “by the end of fall.”

Well, not quite. The Toronto Star’s headline a week later read, “Random Carding – The End” heralding Ontario’s announcement of a strict set of regulations for the interaction of police with members of the community. In other words, administration but not elimination. Desmond Cole’s companion piece that day, “You can’t legislate police decency”, applauded the new policy but argued that this good start is only a beginning to protect marginalized people from abuses of power.

Both the Star and the Globe ran editorials the next day on October 30. The Globe’s “Don’t regulate carding. Just ban it”, was echoed by the Star’s “Good riddance to carding.”

As expected, by November 7, the Star was reporting that “Chiefs, officers push back against new carding rules.” Police were making a last-ditch effort of halt aspects of the province’s restrictions on street checks before they became law during the 45 day review period of the proposed legislation. What impact they have is pending.

Arguments are now made from different sources that what’s proposed are nothing more than ‘toothless political band-aids’, that the Police Act must be changed to empower civilian police boards to control operational procedures, and that police officers will continue to do as they wish, law or no law.

Only we can bury carding. That, and lots and lots and lots of cameras. Most people don’t know their rights, are too timid to speak up for themselves or others, and frequently believe they are not vulnerable to abuse. Those attitudes must change.

Remember, the People are sovereign in a democracy, police officers are first and always public servants, deserving of respect and good will, but in the end, we still pay for their underwear.

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