How Ontario politicians teamed up to rein in police carding: Cohn 

Good overview by Regg-Cohn on how the carding issue was addressed, with all party support (all too rare):

Provincial politicians are not usually top of mind when dealing with tensions in the inner cities or outer suburbs. But all three parties answered the call.

NDP deputy leader Jagmeet Singh launched a public campaign for change earlier this year, disclosing that he’d been carded more than 10 times by police — accosting him, questioning him, profiling him. A turban-wearing Sikh (which apparently arouses suspicions), Singh is a lawyer who now represents the riding of Bramalea-Gore-Malton — and knows his rights. But in news conferences, he made the case that most young people don’t know they have a right to refuse police street checks unless they are under suspicion for a crime.

Leading a legislative debate last month, Singh exhorted his fellow MPPs to “send a clear message to the entire province that arbitrary and discriminatory carding and street checks are not acceptable.”

The appeal from Singh’s third-place New Democrats struck a chord with the Progressive Conservatives. As the official Opposition, they have hewed to a rigid law and order line ever since John Tory led the party from 2004-09 and cleaved to police unions (a pattern he continued after becoming Toronto’s mayor last year).

The current PC leader, Patrick Brown, is taking a broader view. After reaching out to ethnic communities, notably people of South Asian descent, he is acutely aware that carding is seen as profiling. The PCs’ new legal affairs critic, Randy Hillier — a rambunctious libertarian but also a civil libertarian — delivered a passionate critique of carding for infringing on fundamental freedoms.

“Societies that arbitrarily or unduly limit people’s freedoms and liberties are also places where individual safety is in jeopardy,” Hillier argued.

The governing Liberals were ready to respond. Community Safety Minister Yasir Naqvi announced that his party would support the opposition motion to ban discriminatory street checks.

“There is zero tolerance when it comes to any kind of racial profiling or discrimination in interactions that our police engage in,” he announced.

Naqvi, who, like Singh, is a lawyer of South Asian descent, says he has never been carded. But after conducting consultations across the province through the summer, he heard an earful about the practice — and learned about his own tin ear.

His ministry’s initial consultation paper caused a storm for repeating the police claim, unquestioningly, that street checks are a “necessary and valuable tool.” Naqvi was embarrassed into admitting that he’d never asked police to back up their assertions.

Source: How Ontario politicians teamed up to rein in police carding: Cohn | Toronto Star

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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