Above photo is of Yasir Naqvi, Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services. Courtesy of RadPBar, Wikimedia Commons.
By Jordan Maxwell
Pride Contributing Writer
Ontario, Canada — The Province of Ontario has released new regulations prohibiting carding and for the first time have set out rules that seek to ensure interaction with police are “conducted without bias and discrimination.”
“(The regulations) both bans the arbitrary and race-based collection of identifying information and establishes clear and consistent rules for police officers to protect individual rights in interactions that help keep our communities safe,” said Yasir Naqvi, Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services.
“These important changes will help strengthen public accountability and foster increased public trust in police, which is essential for building a stronger, safer Ontario.”
As of January 1, 2017, officers must inform the person of their right to not provide identifying information. Officers also must provide a reason for requesting identifying information. The reason cannot be: arbitrary; that the person declined to answer a question or attempted to end the interaction; or, be based on race or solely because that individual is in a high-crime location.
Officers must also offer a document that includes the officer’s name and badge number and information on how to contact the office of the Independent Police Review Director if there are concerns about the interaction, according to the release.
The news comes as calls for change from community activists and other groups such as Black Lives Matter have increased over the last couple of months when it comes to how police monitor and interrogate members of minority communities.
It also comes following the Black Lives Matter group’s latest protest in front of Toronto’s Police Headquarters on Monday when protestors demonstrated and demanded justice for Andrew Loku, a 45-year-old father of five who was shot and killed by Toronto Police in July 2015. Police allegedly tussled with protestors as they sought to camp outside the headquarters.
According to the release, the new regulations were born from public meetings held in Ottawa, Brampton, Thunder Bay, London and Toronto from August and September of last year.
The ministry reportedly received 510 written submissions during the first stage of consultations. After the draft regulation was posted on October 28, 2015, 82 further submissions were received from the public, as well as 28 written submissions from key stakeholders.
Also announced by the Province, The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services will launch a multi-year academic study to better understand the impact on community safety from “collecting identifying information through police interactions with the public,” according to the release.
It is still unclear if the proposed regulations will have an impact, or if it will be business as usual for police services – time will tell. Nevertheless, the Province is looking at it as a step in the right direction.
“Our regulation reflects the public input we received from Ontarians, and our work with civil liberties, human rights, policing, legal and community partners, as well as ethnic and cultural groups,” said Naqvi.