Toronto

Carding 'wrong, illegal,' former Ontario ombudsman concludes

Stopping citizens without reasonable basis is "wrong and illegal," former Ontario ombudsman Andre Marin says in a report that was made public Thursday.

'Stopping citizens without an objective' unconstitutional, Andre Marin says

Former Ontario Ombudsman Andre Marin calls the practice of carding "illegal" in a report that was made public Thursday. (Darren Calabrese/CP)

Stopping citizens without reasonable basis is "wrong and illegal," former Ontario ombudsman Andre Marin says in a report that was made public Thursday.

In a 25-page document that was submitted to the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services on Aug. 31, Marin takes on the controversial practice of carding, also known as street checks.

The outspoken former ombudsman argued that there is insufficient evidence that carding is an effective policing tool, and presented conflicting examples of how it differs among police services across the province.

Noting that the ministry intends to regulate street checks, Marin made 25 recommendations to help it control the practice which he says "disproportionately impacts racialized and marginalized individuals."

The report recommends a number of changes, including:

  • Cautioning everyone who is carded that they have the right to walk away province-wide training for officers to ensure consistent practices.
  • Conducting more research into the effectiveness of carding and consultation with human rights experts on the harm it causes.
  • Placing strict limits on the use of street checks and retention of any data gathered.
  • Enacting independent oversight.
  • Ban carding of anyone under 18.

Marin concluded that he remains unconvinced that "there is a public interest purpose sufficient to override the infringement of the right to be free from the arbitrary detention that street checks represent."

Toronto Mayor John Tory had called for a permanent end to carding in June, but backed down from that stance and voted instead for restrictions including requiring officers to give a receipt to the people they stop. 

On Sept. 15, the Ontario Liberals replaced Marin with acting ombudsman Barbara Finlay.

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