A new provincial rule banning carding by police in specific situations in Ontario officially came into effect on Sunday, but some say it doesn't go far enough to end the controversial practice.

The regulation bans police from collecting identifying information "arbitrarily," or based on a person's race or presence in a high crime neighbourhood in certain instances. Carding is also known as street checks. 

Kevin Flynn, Ontario community safety and correctional services minister, said in a news release that the regulation was drafted after the provincial government consulted the public on how to improve public confidence in police.

"These new rules protect the rights of people who are not under investigation while also laying the foundation for more positive, trusting and respectful relationships between police and the public," Flynn said.

Flynn said police will be able to do their jobs better — prevent and solve crimes and keep communities safe — if those relationships improve.

TAVIS patrol

'These new rules protect the rights of people who are not under investigation,' says Kevin Flynn, Ontario community safety and correctional services minister. (CBC)

Michael Coteau, Ontario minister responsible for anti-racism and children and youth services minister, said banning the practice of carding will help to eliminate systemic racism in the criminal justice system.

"It is absolutely essential that everyone in this province be treated with dignity and respect regardless of their race or religion," he said.

Rule doesn't go far enough, says BLMTO

But Sandy Hudson, co-founder of Black Lives Matter Toronto, said the new rule on carding doesn't go far enough. 

"Where these rules apply — and where they don't — doesn't change anything about carding," she said. "A police officer can always say they are investigating a particular crime." 

Hudson says she and other members of Black Lives Matter would prefer to see an outright ban on carding in Toronto and across Ontario. 

"Our position is that the regulation doesn't ban carding at all, but instead gives a roadmap as to what is an acceptable form of carding according to the province," she said.

Ban doesn't apply during traffic stops, arrests

The Ontario government said it believes it is the first jurisdiction in Canada to set out what it calls "clear and consistent" rules for "voluntary" interactions between the police and public when police are seeking identifying information.

The rule applies if an officer asks the person for identifying information or to see an identifying document while:

  • Looking into suspicious activities;
  • Gathering intelligence;
  • Investigating possible criminal activity. 

The rule does not apply if police ask for identifying information or to see an identifying document while:

  • Doing a traffic stop;
  • Arresting or detaining someone;
  • Executing a warrant;
  • Investigating a specific crime. 

The regulation also will also establish training, data management and reporting requirements about the collection of identifying information. The ban on carding is mandatory for all Ontario police services. 

With Kira Wakeam