Toronto police will continue carding, with some changes to policy

Carding will continue in Toronto as Mayor John Tory backed down on his own motion calling for a permanent end to the controversial practice on Thursday.

John Tory amends motion to abolish policy, to allow police to continue carding in some cases

Carding continues

6 years ago
Mayor John Tory wanted the police board to axe the controversial practice, but then backtracked at Thursday meeting 2:16

Carding will continue in Toronto as Mayor John Tory backed down on his own motion calling for a permanent end to the controversial practice on Thursday.

The rules surrounding carding — which many say unfairly targets the city's black community and, according to Tory, erodes the public's trust — will change slightly, however. 

The Toronto Police Services Board will return to its 2014 carding policy, which requires officers to have a reason for stopping people on the street and to provide a receipt for each interaction.

Toronto Mayor John Tory has previously said abolishing carding would allow police to start with a 'clean slate,' but today joined the police services board in approving a policy that will allow some carding to continue. (Mark Blinch/Reuters)
Carding allows police officers to stop and question individuals not suspected of criminal activity then log that information indefinitely in a database.

Desmond Cole, a fierce critic of the carding program, was quick to criticize the board for not immediately ending the practice and getting rid of the personal data that has been collected and stored.

"Are you going to replace carding with something else? I hope not," Cole said.

Cole, an activist and journalist, said officers focus their attention on black youth, and urged the police board to begin speaking directly with the black community.

"Be honest with us," he said.

Chief backs carding

Chief Mark Saunders continues to stand by the practice, as he has since assuming leadership of the police service in April when he became the first black person to head the force. 

Saunders said he isn't sure when the changes decided upon would take place. 

"I'm not concerned about quick, I'm concerned about doing it right," he said.

Coun. Shelley Carroll said banning the practice outright isn't practical at this time.

"Summer is coming, there will be plenty of interactions," she said.

Tory changes position again

Tory initially stood behind the police practice, but had apparently changed his mind earlier in June as outrage grew.

"Despite the good-faith intentions of [Toronto Police Service] members in their encounters with the public, the degree to which carding had a discriminatory impact on minority groups has led to an unacceptable erosion of public trust and confidence in the TPS," Tory said in a report he presented to the board on Thursday.

Tory had said abolishing carding would allow the police to start with a "clean slate."

But now he's changed position again. During the Toronto Police Services Board meeting, he amended his own motion to have the city revert to the policy it enacted on April 24, 2014. The motion was passed.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?