Ontario puts new rules on carding, banning random stops
Police required to provide reason, documentation for stops under draft legislation
Ontario's Liberal government is proposing new regulations that would ban the random stopping of citizens by police — known as carding — and require officers to provide a written record of any such exchanges.
Community Safety Minister Yasir Naqvi said the draft regulation would establish clear and consistent rules to protect civil liberties during voluntary interactions between police and the public.
The new rules say police officers cannot arbitrarily or randomly stop and question citizens.
Officers must also inform a citizen that a stop is voluntary and they have the right to walk away. They will also be required to provide a reason for the stop, documentation about it afterwards, and must inform citizens how to file a complaint or access information obtained during the stop.
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"We're saying: one, [a carding stop] cannot be random or arbitrary nor can it be based on race or the neighbourhood you live in," Naqvi said during a news conference on Wednesday.
Naqvi, who last week vowed to outlaw the controversial practice by the end of fall, called the draft regulations "fair, effective and rights-based" and the result of "difficult conversations" with police forces and communities across the province.
When pressed on how effective the proposed regulations would be, Naqvi said they "will have the force of law," once approved.
He said police will not be allowed to stop people based on how they look or in which neighbourhood they live, but there would be "narrow exemptions" in the rules to cover routine traffic stops or when someone is being arrested or detained.
Naqvi wouldn't say what would happen to the personal information that has already been gathered through carding that is now in police databases.
Opponents have blasted the tactic for disproportionately targeting young black men and other ethnic minorities.
Following public outcry, the province started public consultations in August.
Naqvi said the government heard from many people of colour and aboriginal men and women who said the Human Rights Code was being ignored by police who stopped them for no apparent reason.
"These conversations were difficult," he said. "They were emotional. They were moving and they were necessary to get us where we are today."
Naqvi said there will be 45 days for public input, which will be reviewed and changes will be made accordingly.
With files from The Canadian Press