Ontario carding consultations end at tense Toronto meeting
Police forces need to play by the same rules when it comes to carding, or street checks, Ontario’s community safety minister said at a heated meeting on the topic in Toronto.
Hundreds showed up at the Toronto Reference Library for the final of five public consultations about the controversial practice of carding, or street checks as they’re known in some parts of the GTA, on Tuesday evening. The police tactic allows officers to stop people on the street to collect information that’s stored indefinitely to help with future investigations.
The city’s black community says the tool amounts to racial profiling and has called for it to be stopped immediately, but police have resisted. At times, frustrations boiled over with protesters yelling their demands.
Minister Yasir Naqvi didn’t make any firm commitments to ending carding, but said police need to make changes to make sure there’s nothing random about the practice.
“We as government stand opposed to any random or arbitrary police stop that take place for no cause or reason or without and suspicious activity,” he said.
“For us, that practice must end.”
Activist Desmond Cole, who has detailed his carding experiences with Toronto police, said police aren’t listening to the community’s demands when it comes to ending carding.
“The Toronto Police Services Board has been hearing about this from us for years and they’ve chosen not to end the practice of carding,” Cole said.
Police Chief Mark Saunders, who at one point during the event discussed the issue at a roundtable with Cole, called the meeting “an important assessment.”
Saunders said he’s looking forward to the new regulations the province comes up with.
“The street check thing right now is something that definitely needs to have regulations put in place,” he said.
A small but peaceful protest closed Yonge Street near the library before the event.