Over the last few months I have spoken out incessantly against the carding / street check practices that have been taking place across Ontario, as well as throughout Canada. I am extremely happy to hear that the Ontario Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services has proposed two regulations, one new and one amended, to the Police Services Act of 1990.
The amendment that is being proposed to the Police Services Act pertains to Clause 2 (1) (g) (i) of Ontario Regulation 268/10. The current clause makes it an unlawful or unnecessary exercise of authority for an officer to make an arrest without good and sufficient cause. The proposed amendment would add to that clause to also make it an unlawful or unnecessary exercise of authority to physically or psychologically detain an individual without good and sufficient cause. The clause would also add another provision, which states that it is an unlawful or unnecessary exercise of authority for an officer to collect or attempt to collect information from an individual in violation of a new proposed regulation to the police Services Act: Collection of Identifying Information In Certain Circumstances – Prohibitions and Duties.
The proposed “Collection of Identifying Information In Certain Circumstances – Prohibitions and Duties” addition to the Police Services Act contains many important clauses. Some of the most significant include its section on “limitations on collection of certain information” which prohibits an officer from collecting identifying information about an individual if any part of the reason for the collection has to do with the individual being a part of a particular racialized group or if the collection is done in an arbitrary way. Another important section is the “duties to inform when attempting to collect information.” This section would mandate that an officer who attempts to collect any identifying information from an individual to inform that individual that he or she is not required to remain in the presence of the officer. The section would also mandate the officer to explain the individual why the information is being collected. If information is collected, an officer would be required to provide the individual with the officer’s name and identification number, information about the stop, information about how to contact the Independent Police Review Director, and an explanation that the individual has the right to request access to information about themselves that is in the custody or under the control of a police force through the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act or through the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act depending on whether it is a municipal or provincial police that made the stop. These regulations are said to accomplish two things:
1. Expressly prohibit the random and arbitrary collection of identifying information by police; and
2. Establish clear new rules for voluntary police-public interactions where identifying information is collected.
The Ministry has explained that these rules will “ensure that interactions are consistent, conducted without bias or discrimination, and done in a manner that promotes public confidence and keeps our communities safe. Once in force, the regulations will be mandatory for every police service in Ontario.”
After speaking out on this issue in the Senate Chambers and publicly over the last few months, I am very happy to see that change is being implemented. I would like to congratulate Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, Yasir Naqvi, for listening to the community and bringing for these proposals. I believe that these proposals are a great step in the right direction of eliminating improper carding or street check practices. It is important to note, however, that these are just draft proposals and are awaiting feedback and comments from the public. If the decision is made to proceed with the proposal, comments received during the consultation will be considered during the final preparation of the regulation. As such, I recommend everyone to leave their comments and suggestions to these proposals. As you know, I always stand up and speak out for protecting human rights and our rights as Canadians. I urged everyone to exercise their right to vote this past election to ensure that we as Canadians take an active role in shaping our country the way we would like to see it. This is no different. To gain more information about the proposals and the commenting process, please visit: http://www.ontariocanada.com/registry/view.do?postingId=20202&language=en. Comments will be accepted until December 12, 2015. They can be sent by mail or e-mail to:
Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services
25 Grosvenor Street, 9th Floor,
Carding has affected millions of Canadians living in Toronto. I can only imagine what that statistic would be across Ontario and throughout Canada. We now have the opportunity to make a significant change in the current practice and I urge you all to let your voices be heard and change the future of carding and the millions of Canadians who have been affected by it.