Provincial review of police carding rules stops in Hamilton Tuesday

Ontario’s new rules on police street checks or “carding” will be the subject of a public meeting on Tuesday in Hamilton.
Justice Michael Tulloch is conducting a review of street checks rules in Ontario. (Frank Gunn/Canadian Press)

Ontario's new rules on police street checks or "carding" will be the subject of a public meeting on Tuesday in Hamilton.

Justice Michael Tulloch is traveling around the province to collect feedback for recommendations he'll be making to the government at the beginning of 2019 about how the new rules are working.

Hamilton's consultation takes place Tuesday evening from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Hamilton room in the central library on York Boulevard.

The new regulation is called the Collection of Identifying Information in Certain Circumstances, or "COII" for short.

A recent report said that the Hamilton Police Service conducted five interactions with members of the public in 2017 that required them to follow the regulations outlined in the law.

Coun. Lloyd Ferguson said he's asked Justice Tulloch to investigate whether there's a link between an increase in shooting activity and a drop-off in street checks. (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

Among the questions community leaders have raised so far:

  • Is there a connection between the dwindling numbers of police-reported "street checks" and a recent increase in shootings? Coun. Lloyd Ferguson has posed that question several times and said he raised it in a meeting with Tulloch. Police top brass have said it's too early to draw any kind of link and that officers are still stopping and talking with people, just not necessarily collecting their ID.
  • What can or should be done with the thousands of records created by police conducting street checks before the new laws came into play? Police board member Madeleine Levy called last month for a policy on what the police do with that information.

Throughout 2016, carding and street checks were a hot topic in Hamilton and around the province, as anti-racism advocates pushed for fairer rules on when an officer can log someone's ID and whereabouts in a database.

New regulations that came into effect in January 2017 banned police from collecting identifying information on someone who is not under investigation, on someone "arbitrarily," or on someone based on race or presence in a high crime neighbourhood — all concerns that had eroded trust of many communities with police.

The carding practice was criticized for its disproportionate impacts on visible minorities and was called an infringement on Charter rights to privacy.