Chief Blair Admits Police Carding Can Become Illegal at Times

During an exclusive interview over the issue of legality of carding, Toronto police Chief Bill Blair alleged that “if done improperly, it can cross the threshold into illegality.” The police services board is represented by a prominent criminal lawyer, Frank Addario, who offered an opinion on the legality of the force’s controversial practice of stopping, questioning and documenting residents on the street

Statistics show that those carded are disproportionately black and brown, while some more strict legal experts assert that the practice infringes the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. During a year-end interview in his office on Friday, Mr. Blair mentioned that he has privately obtained three legal opinions from “very senior counsel” that “do not suggest that it’s illegal.” Upon inquiry about the “threshold” after which the controversial practice becomes illegal, he replied that “I think there is a point at which, if a person is detained without justification, then it can be illegal. And so the manner in which the approach is made, the questions are asked, the information is obtained, even the type of information that’s gathered, there’s a point at which everything the police do must be justified in law.”

On the other hand, the civil rights lawyer who aims at abolishing carding, Peter Rosenthal, mentioned in response to Blair’s comment that “if he acknowledges the danger, that’s another reason to desist from the practice.” Rosenthal stated that “I don’t understand why the police are trying to find out how much they can get away with legally,” while adding that “by this overpolicing of the black community, they’ve caused tremendous antagonism, and it ends up with them getting much less co-operation from the community than they would otherwise get.”

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