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Carding is 'wrong and illegal' says Ontario ombudsman

Last Updated Sep 24, 2015 at 8:41 pm EST

Carding is “wrong and illegal” and it violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Ontario’s ombudsman’s office has boldly declared in a report titled Street Checks and Balances.

The report, which was made public Thursday, was submitted to the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services at the end of August by former ombudsman Andre Marin.

Marin, who has since been replaced in the interim by Barbara Finlay, called the street checks a “form of arbitrary detention.”

“Canadians recognize that police powers should be subject to reasonable limits. That’s why we have the Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” Marin wrote.

The ombudsman’s submission argues that there is insufficient evidence that carding is an effective policing tool and that the “detrimental effects of street checks on individuals and the community are simply too great to justify this practice.”

It makes 25 recommendations including: cautioning everyone who is carded that they have the right to walk away, province-wide training for officers, more research into the effectiveness of the practice, consultation with human rights experts, strict limits on the use of street checks and no carding of anyone under 18.

“If the government persists in its attempt to permit and regulate street checks, significant safeguards will be required to minimize the infringement on individual civil rights and salvage community confidence in policing in the province,” the report states.

The provincial government is currently conducting a review of carding, including public consultations.

Read the full submission below:

Ontario ombudsman report on carding