Friday, 25 November 2016

Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services responds to Open Letter about Carding

Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services responds to Open Letter
By Neil Armstrong

The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services says Minister David Orazietti has been clear that the arbitrary collection of identifying information (also known as carding or street checks) by the police is unacceptable.

“ That is why our government is banning arbitrary street checks starting January 1, 2017. All police services across the province must comply with the ban,” says Yanni Dagonas, senior advisor and press secretary to the minister, who was responding to an Open Letter to the City of Toronto and Province of Ontario about carding from over 50 black intellectuals, writers and organizers sent out on November 21.
The letter notes that on November 17, the Toronto Police Services Board voted to continue the practice of carding in a revised form.

“The decision by the TPSB represents a significant impact on the rights of Black, Indigenous, and Brown people, as well as homeless people and other marginalized people in our Toronto community,” the letter said. [See the Open Letter further below.]

Dagonas said the provincial regulation is all about making sure that people's rights are being properly protected, “and that we strengthen the relationship between police officers and the communities they serve - a relationship built on trust and respect.”

“We have also made changes to the Code of Conduct under the Police Services Act to ensure compliance and accountability. Under these changes any violation of the rules on collecting identifying information would be considered misconduct, and an officer engaging in street checks may be subject to disciplinary action. Additionally, the Ontario Police College is working with every police service in the province to ensure officers are properly trained and ready to comply with the regulation when it comes into effect,” Dagonas said.

“To ensure that our rules are having the desired outcome, we will also appoint an Independent Reviewer who will complete a review of the regulation within two years. In addition, the ministry will also launch a multi-year study to ensure that bias is removed from police-public interactions and to understand the impact on community safety from collecting identifying information through police interactions with the public.”
On November 17, the Toronto Police Services Board revised its carding policy that still allows the police to access historical carding data. Many critics and community advocates want the old data to be deleted.
In a statement issued on the same day of the board’s meeting, Mayor John Tory said: “This policy is part of the important work Chief Saunders has been leading to modernize the Toronto Police Service and rebuild trust between our communities and our hardworking police officers. This change includes increased training to address bias, restricted access to and oversight of historical data, and the introduction of a ‘Know your Rights’ public awareness campaign.”
Tory said he advocated for the deletion of the historical data that has been compiled through the process of carding.
“The board, however, received compelling advice related to the legal and practical rationale against deletion, including legislative provisions and the data’s relevance to civil litigations and active Charter challenges. TPS officials also advanced operational considerations. I am satisfied that the resulting policy appropriately restricts access to this data and increases accountability and transparency around its use,” he said.
Councillor Chin Lee, one of two city councilors sitting on the board, was away and so could not respond to the open letter.
There was no response from the other councillor, Shelley Carroll, to the letter.


On November 17, 2016 the Toronto Police Services Board voted to continue the practice of Carding in a revised form. The decision by the TPSB represents a significant impact on the rights of Black, Indigenous, and Brown people, as well as homeless people and other marginalized people in our Toronto community.

In “Known to the Police” the Toronto Star’s ground-breaking analysis of street checks data, better known as carding, it was confirmed that the practice of carding in Toronto disproportionally impacts the lives of Black and Brown men in the City of Toronto. The Star’s analysis dramatically confirmed what Black people and Black activists had been maintaining for many years, that Toronto Police disproportionately target Black and Brown young people in their street checks. In these street checks the personal information of these young people is unconstitutionally and illegally gathered and stored in a database for unspecified use in the future.

Many people who have been carded have come forward to explain how the practice of carding robs them not only of their Charter Rights but of their dignity as well. There is growing evidence that the information gathered in the database has been used to deny persons access to resources and jobs for which they would have been otherwise qualified. The corrosive effects of carding, on the lives and rights of Black Canadians in particular, have been a clear signal of their marginalization in the City of Toronto.

The practice of carding is so egregious that the Province of Ontario in a recent set of consultations suggested that it be significantly reformed. We say reform is not enough. Carding not only violates Charter Rights of Black Canadians and others, but carding robs its targets of dignity, bodily integrity, freedom of movement and freedom of assembly, and, makes clear to them that they are not seen as necessary or instrumental parts of the City of Toronto. Carding, as a recent UN Special report confirmed, yet again, after a fact finding visit to a number of cities, has an impact on Black people in Canada that is deeply destructive to their lives.

We the undersigned call on both the Province of Ontario and the City of Toronto to immediately abolish carding, destroy all the data that is the fruit of these illegal detentions and issue an immediate directive to police officers that carding cannot be used in the Province nor the City as an “investigative tool”. We further demand that police officers should be clearly held to account for their behaviour when they violate the human rights of Black, Brown and Indigenous people through the surreptitious methods of carding.

We make these demands in light of the fact that the citizenship rights of Black Canadians are being violated and indeed made null and void each time a Black person is carded. The new regulations announced on November 17 on carding suggest that Black young people now and into the future will be targeted as collectively and generally suspect because of the colour of their skin. The new regulations confirm the intention of ongoing, sanctioned intrusion into the lives of Black citizens. If we say that young people are our future, then the clear message that carding and data collection and storage send to young people of African descent is that they have no future in this country. The new regulations signal open season on Black life. This is unacceptable in a multiracial and multicultural society. In fact, carding is an abhorrent practice that mars any claim of a just society in the Province of Ontario and the City of Toronto, let alone the country.


Rinaldo Walcott
Dionne Brand
David Chariandy
Olive Senior
Sylvia Hamilton
Pamela Mordecai
Angela Robertson
Carol Allain
Beverly Bain
Debbie Douglas
Richard Fung
Afua Cooper
Katherine McKittrick
Beverley Mullings
Pablo Idahosa
D. Alissa Trotz
Camille Orridge
Dionne Falconer
Andrea Davis
OmiSoore Dryden
Sandy Hudson
Kit Lang
Lali Mohamed
Audrey Dwyer
Christopher Smith
Ellie Ade Kur
Punam Khosla
Ronald Cummings
Ayende Constant
Abdi Osman
Crystal Mark
Rai Reece
Cassandra Lord
Ronald Cummings
Karina Vernon
Kamala Kempadoo
Melanie Newton
Malinda S Smith
Michele Johnson
Grace Adeniyi Ogunyankin
Tamari Kitossa
Camille Turner
Warren Chrichlow
Delores V Mullings
Carl James
Honor Ford Smith
Melanie Knight
Anthony Mohamed
Melanie Newton
Andrea Davis
Pablo Idahosa
Anti-Black Racism Network
Idil Abdillahi
 Marieme Lo

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