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Carding in

Canada: An Ethical
Assessment
Zhengran (Max) Zhu
Course: SPPA 4190 A
Professors: Dr. Naomi Couto & Dr. Ian
Greene
December 10, 2015

SPPA 4190 A

Zhengran (Max) Zhu


Student No.: 212140000

Introduction
In recent months, the media has been abuzz with debates about carding. Questions on its
validity and use as well as its impact on minority groups have been explored in great depth.
Carding is the police practice of recording highly detailed personal information of citizens in
non-criminal encounters. This information is recorded on contact cards and entered into a police
database for future use in the search for runaway criminals. With more knowledge of a
population, police can identify criminals sooner and more accurately, thereby reducing the time
and cost spent on investigating false leads. Supporters argue for the need for security, by placing
those deemed to be dangerous behind bars. Critics argue, however, that carding is founded on
racist views, another form of racial profiling towards visible minorities. Statistics have supported
the overrepresentation of blacks in these practices. In 2008, for instance, blacks represented 8.6
percent of Torontos population yet formed 22.6 percent of all carded individuals; comparatively,
white individuals represented 53.1 percent of Torontonians and a more proportionate 55.2
percent of all carding entries (Price 18). In addition to the moral concerns it raises, current
carding practices in Canada worsen the racial divide between Canadians and is unjustified under
any of the ethical frameworks of thought.

The following paper presents a background of racial profiling in Canada, including the
statistics that feed into activist movements such as Black Lives Matter in Toronto. Carding is
then examined using consequentialism, Kantian and Rawlsian ethics, and is extended to the
Ontario governments new draft regulations on carding practices in the province. The paper
concludes with a few recommendations on how to ethically address the public interest on this
matter.

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Racial Profiling in Canada


Racial profiling is any police-initiated action that relies on race, ethnicity, or national
origin and not merely on the behaviour of an individual (Risse and Zeckhauser 135). In theory,
carding does not meet this definition as it offers no instruction on how police should develop the
profile of their divisions. In practice, however, officers are relying on race-based indicators in
high-crime neighbourhoods to identify their so-described random selection of individuals. On
top of the statistic mentioned in the opening paragraph, 88,300 contact cards were recorded in
2013 that identified a person of black skin colour an average of 1,700 cards per week (Price
18). Between 2003 and 2008, 401,000 cards were filled out for black people yet, using the 2006
census, only 208,000 of 2.4 million Torontonians were black (Price 18). This means that, in
addition to the near certainty of being carded, most black communities were carded multiples
times over the five-year period. Such duplication adds no value to the police database but the
practice, collectively, becomes the states surveillance camera to racially oppress visible
minorities (Smith 16).

Mutual understanding of the issue is the second part to the problem. Members of the
dominant white group have an experiential gap with the practice as they are targeted by
frequency and proportion to their representation in the population (Smith 15). This leads them
also the skin colour of key decision-makers in the police force to approach the issue
idealistically and resist reform. In reality, carding is a highly ineffective practice that establishes
borders and exclusions for visible minorities that apply at many entry-ways in their lives (Smith
16). Not only do contact cards end up on an individuals police not criminal record, most of

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them are done as a preventative policing strategy with no real results in mind. For example, in
2008, only 566 of 289,400 cards entered were attributed to serious incidents of organized
crime, hold up or homicide (Price 18) while, in Peel Region, police chief Jennifer Evans
required three years of research to present six successful crimes aided by information in contact
cards (Grewal). All evidence indicates that race should not substitute for real knowledge of ones
propensity for criminal activity.

The final part of the problem is the degree of discretion in the hands of police officers. As
part of preventative police work, officers are entrusted with a high level of discretion in order to
act quickly in the prevention of danger. Evidence suggests, however, that some officers abuse the
privilege and use race as a proxy for criminality or general criminal propensity for an entire
racial group (Smith 20). In the early 1970s, for instance, local RCMP officers of Alert Bay,
British Columbia would camp outside a popular Indian bar every Friday night and arrest every
Aboriginal patron that walked out of the bar for public drunkenness (Rudin 34). Regardless of
whether these assumptions of alcohol tolerance were true or not, the existence of racial bias is
evident in police work and significantly breaks the trust between officers and the communities
they serve and protect. It is both started and reinforced within the institution. During training,
police officers are educated on identifying the characteristics of killers using anecdotes,
experiences and news articles (Tator and Henry). As most of these materials link race to
criminality, officers begin to think stereotypically towards these racial groups (Tator and Henry).
Once they start work, all officers white or otherwise are expected to treat black residents with
greater suspicion and less respect. Any black officers who do not fall in line face internal scrutiny
for failing to play the game (Cole). By not eradicating a work culture that supports the practice of

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systemic discrimination to identify crime, officers apply this discretion in carding with poor
regard for the broader impact of racial oppression on large visible minorities.

A Consequentialist Approach
To be ethically defensible under utilitarianism, carding must fulfill the normative
principle of delivering the greatest good for the greatest number of people (Dimock 34). Its
analysis is focused on balancing the happiness, or utility, of a decision with the unhappiness, or
disutility, caused to all stakeholders implicated by the decision. This theory is excellent for any
policy that implicates society as duplication of utility, or disutility, across a population factors
into felicific calculations, at the cost of qualitative features such as severity or likeliness of
unforeseen consequences (Dimock 35). To advance a study under this framework, the concept of
what a good entails must be clarified; otherwise, the outcomes considered would be too broad
and open for personal interpretation, in relation to the creation of happiness. For this paper, the
common good is having a society where the social systems, institutions and environments on
which we all depend work in a manner that benefits all people (Velasquez et al. ). One example
of the common good is an effective system of public safety and security, and a just legal system
for all members of society (Velasquez et al.). The notion of a common good is widely contested
in academic works all which are justified and thus this is only one variation of it.

As stated by Mathias Risse and Richard Zeckhauser in their paper Racial Profiling,
ethical arguments for carding or racial profiling tend to be utilitarian in nature (132). They can be
summarized to two ideas: cost-effectiveness and low direct harm to individuals. In light of the
recent opposition to carding in Ontario over the last two years, police forces have responded to

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public scrutiny by touting the tangible successes of the practice. Police find it vital to continue
this practice due to the notion that it effectively keeps the streets clean. In Toronto, Deputy Police
Chief Peter Sloly explained that major solved cases of sexual assaults, abuses of children, (and)
horrible multiple shootings have all come out of (the) practice. (CBC). With a more descriptive
profile of a community, officers can direct part of their investigation on individuals that match
the victims recollection of the suspect or suspects. This increases the ratio of true positives and
lowers the ratio of false positives during an investigation, allowing officers to close the case
sooner and save money from the police budget (Thomsen 101). (A true positive is a test result
where police locate the right suspect; false positive is a test result that identifies the wrong
person) These savings will be carried over into future years and the municipalities can allocate
less of their revenues to the police and increase funding for social programs, thereby making
more low-income earners happier.

If the act of carding was examined in itself, academics argue that the incremental harm to
visible minorities would be very small. In a non-racist society, carding would be desired by all
members of society if it proportionately targets the racial groups more prone to committing crime
(Badhi et al. 32). In Canada, for instance, 22 percent of the federal prison population is
Aboriginal while 10 percent is black (Fine). Racial profiling, according to this viewpoint, is just
smart law enforcement that focuses resources on groups of higher risk to maximize efficiency
(Badhi et al. 38). Efficiency delivers results that can trump individual or collective rights of a
group. Risse and Zeckhauser compare non-racist racial profiling to higher car insurance for
young drivers (145). Even if the driver is not dangerous, he or she accepts the higher cost due to
other bad apples in the age group. Carding follows the same principle; while not all black or

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Aboriginal people are criminals, they should acquiesce to the higher scrutiny as it protects
others and themselves and spurs other benefits such as more economic activity in the
community (Reiman 14). Visible minorities, however, already perceive society as racist and thus
attribute the slight inconvenience to their skin colour and historical encounters with the ruling
class (Badhi et al., 38). This is a poor proxy for the real damage caused by carding. Even if
carding is banned, the expressive harm would still remain. The actual harm, then, is small and
should be accepted for the level of public safety it brings to all members of society.

As utilitarianism is an agent-neutral theory, the practice of carding is not bound to


address any agent relative concerns that some groups may share. Visible minorities may perceive
the issue differently but their unique viewpoints, arisen from experiences of racialization, are not
factored into the overall assessment, regardless of the public perception on the matter. It is
important, however, to investigate carding from a rule utilitarianism approach as well, as the
practice ties into a wider attitude towards visible minorities in police forces across Canada.
Between 1986 and 1992, for instance, police intensified their patrol of low-income areas in
Ontario targeting black people as suspects in the war on drugs (Badhi et al. 34) This led to an
overrepresentation of Blacks in prison in spite of the lack of evidence that members of the race
were more likely to use or profit from drugs than other racial groups (Badhi et al. 34).
Ultimately, the perceived success of profiling Blacks through high incarceration rates fueled the
already existing stereotype that young Black males were likely to be involved in drug related
crimes (Badhi et al. 34). The rule utilitarian approach asks if these attitudes are justified enough
to be formulated into a general rule that race-based indicators should be used as a foundation of
policing strategies in Canada.

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The disutility of racial profiling is not commensurable to its proposed benefits. To be


justified, it must have sufficiently great benefit and great likelihood that the flagged individuals
are connected to a current or future crime (Thomsen 101). While the benefit of halting a future
drug deal is significant, each profiled individual has an equally and very small probability of
being positively identified as a criminal down the road. Despite this, the bulk of complaints
against racial profiling relates to the discomfort, inconvenience and humiliation that citizens
unduly, and innocently, suffer from the intensive scrutiny (Thomsen 91). Resentment, ranging
from shame to indignation, becomes a direct, intense form of disutility in their lives as it impedes
their ability to be happy. African-Americans have gone so far to describe the police as the most
prominent reminder of (their) second-class citizenship in the United States (Kennedy 152).

The father of modern policing, Sir Robert Peel, believed that people are the police and
the police are the people (The Economist). Applying unjustified assumptions on racial groups
increase the divide between police and the people. Blacks and other visible minorities no longer
view the norms of the legal system and its enforcers as legitimate, increasing the potential for
criminality (Thomsen 106). Victims feel distrusted and disrespected by the system which, at
times, can act as the nudge that pushes a would-be criminal against the law (Thomsen 106).
When executed without racial bias, profiling is an effective tool to deter criminal activity as
would-be criminals are more fearful of being discovered for potential crimes. Racial profiling
promotes the opposite an anti-deterrent effect. By racializing certain groups as more criminal
than others, more police resources are divested into the group and away from action against other
groups (Thomsen 105). This makes it efficient in targeting potential offenders in the group but

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loses the deterrent effect on those not part of the racial group, creating a smaller effect at a cityor nation-wide level (Thomsen 105). Both alienation and anti-deterrent effects demonstrate that
racial profiling, as a police practice, does not serve the common good of an efficient system of
public safety. More crime, rather than less crime, is perpetuated on society and debunks the very
purpose of racial profiling of making communities safer through cooperation and preventative
police work. More, citizens are exposed to danger when racial stereotypes affect police
objectivity.

From a utilitarian viewpoint, the practice of carding does not produce the greatest good.
Some tangible benefits to the program exist and removing the individual action will not alleviate
the pain of systemic racism in society for its victims. Carding occurs, however, due to the general
rule of racial profiling within the police forces in Canada. Adopting an ideology of using
observable characteristics in crime is counteractive to the overall effort of lowering criminal
activity in a community and is a deliberate violation of fundamental Charter rights, including
equality rights protected under Section 15 (Badhi et al. 42) Most importantly, racial scrutiny
causes an intense, long-lasting source of unhappiness for its victims but only creates an uncertain
benefit for public safety. Felicific calculus ascribes more weight to these characteristics in
calculating the greater amount of good and, consequently, the more intense negative outcomes
tip the ethical balance of the practice.

A Kantian Approach
Under consequentialist moral theories, carding is evaluated in empirical terms. Good
outcomes, such as a lower crime rate or better police investigative techniques, are balanced with

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bad outcomes, such as Charter violations on individuals, to determine if the practice is ethical or
not. For Kant, the right decision is made a priori to any rule or consequence of actions. Rather,
the intrinsic value of an act is defined by how well it abides by universal principles and if it can
be supported by good, justifiable reasons (Woof 2). It must respect the people that it implicates
by treating each of them as ends in themselves, no matter how good or beneficent the outcomes
may be for a larger population (Dimock 43). By perfecting the principles of universality and
respect for persons, the end decision will be based from perfectly good will to produce a good
state of affairs and meet the categorical imperative for the benefit of society (Woof 3).

Carding subordinates the ends of a visible minority by treating them as means for the
White majority. By acting on the assumption that certain crimes are committed
disproportionately by certain racial groups, individuals are being profiled on a characteristic that
partly constitutes their identity (Risse and Zeckhauser 145). They are not seen as rational
beings in themselves but rather as mere members of a larger group, adopting its characteristics at
the exclusion of their personal ones. This is a violation of the respect for persons principle as the
state is depriving them of their ability to act on their own ends, including the freedom to walk
without multiple requests to be carded, a lower chance of getting arrest (by not existing in the
database) or social segregation among a mixed-race group of friends (Thomsen 106). As a
provider of social welfare for all Canadians, it is a duty for the police to owe reasonableness to
each individual separately (Reiman 8). The racial group does not contribute to society as one
entity. Rather, individuals engage in different types of work and make their own contributions to
society, such as tax payments. As such, the state ought to treat each person with respect by not
relying on cheap-to-observe characteristics in the name of a public good (Lombardo). By

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disrespecting the rational agency of visible minorities, carding does not treat individuals as ends
in themselves but only as a means to create an unproven sense of security. They are unable to
exercise autonomy and choice over how they should be treated by the police as they have already
been labelled and fitted with predetermined attributes.

If the current form of carding was universalized, society would devolve into a state
divided by class, race, or creed. Each community would have a permanent underclass that, due to
the power of carding enforcers, would have no means to overcome it. Carding would inhibit the
ability for certain groups to get ahead as the constant police checks paints a picture of them as
violent, dangerous or untrustworthy. Some of these outcomes have emerged in Canadian society
after three decades of its deployment. In telephone surveys done with 1,257 Ontarians, 43
percent of black male residents were stopped by Toronto Police over a two year period (Badhi et
al. 34). Among those, 17 percent were reported to have been stopped on two or more occasions
(Badhi et al. 34). The figures for White residents were drastically lower at 25 and 8 percent,
respectively, as they were less likely to be criminalized or face the suspicious eye (Badhi et al.
34). The criminalization then plays out in different parts of their lives. Black Canadians, for
instance, face a wage gap of 10 to 15 percent from non-visible minority counterparts despite
being more educated and living in urban centres (Grant). A higher chance of being arrested due
to more criminalization by police lead to a criminal record that influences job prospects. Police
scrutiny also shapes how media communicates to peoples views, by portraying blacks as the
other and dangerous group to hire. In sum, carding is more than a set of questions. If
universalized, an entire system of systemic discrimination could arise and structurally damage
the lives of visible minorities in Canada.

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There is questionable evidence on how much carding or racial profiling is justified by


public safety concerns. The use of narratives or hegemonic stories in police training, along with
contributions of opinion leaders in the police force, reinforce and reproduce existing ideologies
of power and inequality in society (Tator and Henry). Most of these narratives portray race as
one indicator of criminality and encourages stereotypical thinking about particular racial and
cultural groups. These images remain once officers enter the workforce and, over time, becomes
reproduced in the form of police bias in carding. The issue here is whose duties should be
performed by the police. On one side, they are legally obligated to fulfill their duty to their
employer and managing social order through various policing techniques, including racial
profiling. On the other hand, they owe a duty to protect citizens by serving and protecting their
needs, as in the case of the Toronto Police. The best decision under Kantian ethics is the duty to
protect citizens from harm. Even if the police are controlled by their employer, the inherent and
original purpose is to make better as a whole. The means that the government chooses,
influenced by decades of radicalized relationships with groups, is wrong by racially separating
the people into different groups by race. Carding supports a shift from that intention and is
therefore wrong. If the duty was universalized, the world would be a safer place to live as
everyone would be able to live in peace. Each individual would be treated as ends in themselves
as a secure society enables them to have dignity and exercise moral judgments, in the highest
form of humanity. Fulfilling ones duty to their employer does not meet the categorical
imperative. While each officers loyalty to the police chief is a great sign of respect, someone at
the top of the management chain will not have an employer. This opens the door for unethical or
poor decisions that, if executed, may cause undue damage to an entire population. Such lack of

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self-control makes the duty to employer an invalid one under Kant and, consequently, any act of
carding made under the loyalty to the force is unethical.

In the Kantian view on ethics, the act of carding is not acceptable. By perceiving all
individuals as uniform members of a racial group with the same characteristics, habits and
personality traits visible minorities are treated in terms of a group membership and not as they
deserve. This shows a lack of respect for victims as ends in themselves, without the ability to act
in autonomy and define their own identity. Furthermore, the practice would be incoherent if it
was universalized by all police forces in the world. It creates two classes of citizenship, opening
up the possibility of class warfare or disharmony in society. The maxim cannot be universalized
either, as it cannot be expected that everyone will be judged on genuine grounds of suspicion and
not by the colour of their skin. A lack of care for visible minorities may eventually rid all
minorities in Canada, leaving only one race of White Canadians in Canada. Carding fails both
components of the Categorical Imperative and does not meet the supreme principle of morality.

A Rawlsian Approach
Rawlsian ethics asks if the practice of carding would be acceptable within a society in the
original position. The rules of the society would be set by a group of rational individuals that
have knowledge of general matters, such as history or economics, but make decisions behind a
veil of ignorance that denies them knowledge of which ethnic identities and situations are more
subject to racism than others (Reiman 6). Public policy would agree in the original position if it
is in every actual persons interest. It does not guarantee that every person is content with the
outcome, as long as it is equitable to all and rational for them to accept carding when they are

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ignorant of where they stand in the practice. There would be no knowledge, for instance, of the
power or wealth imbalance between visible and non-visible minorities as mentioned above.

The challenge remains on whether racism is inherently part of Canadas social fabric and
identity. In a perfectly non-racist society, the act of racial profiling can be ethical if it is benefits
the investigation of serious crimes. Crime is harmful to both the individual and society by
affecting the way people work, socialize and raise their families; thus, it is in everyones best
interest to have a criminal system that apprehends, punishes and deters crime (Reiman 10).
Some populations may face greater inconvenience than others. This is tolerable as long as the
practice is done in proportion to the gravity of crimes it assists in investigation (Reiman 11). The
arrest of Min Chen for the murder of Cecilia Zhang in 2003, for example, was attributed to
carding as Chen was carded for his suspicious activity at a fishing pond, which was linked back
to his potential presence at the Zhang household at the time of the kidnapping (Blatchford). In
this case, carding would have been acceptable as the murder of a child warrants more intensive
measures to catch the murderer. If not caught, a psychopathic child killer may reoffend and risk
the safety of children and other members of the general public. Race was not the determining
factor that caused Chen to be carded; however, as police were looking for an Asian individual
who knew the Zhangs, the officer took additional effort to follow up on his potential involvement
in the case and produced a compelling case of his whereabouts that morning (Blatchford). Under
the original position of a non-racist society, this use of race is acceptable as it increased the
effectiveness of the criminal justice system in meeting the safety concerns posed to society,
making everyone better off with, rather than without, it (Reiman 11). Chen was inconvenienced

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on general grounds and the level of inconvenience commensurate with the degree of crime
involved.

In a society where racism is part of the general knowledge of lawmakers, however, the
original position would prohibit the practice of carding. It can be reasonably believed that racial
profiling would cause unreasonable direct harm and violation to some racial groups, influencing
how the non-visible majority perceives the minorities (Reiman 17). When exercised by the
police, this perception may influence how the majority treats the minorities and lead to violations
of their human rights. There may be more indifference and hostility towards Black people; an
increased perception that Blacks import crime to neighbourhoods; discouragement of Blacks
from working in White neighbourhoods at night, or the potential to downplay Whites as
perpetuators of violence and crime (Reiman 16). All of these are forms of ungrounded
discrimination that would be assigned to a law-abiding Black person. Racist patterns in
employment, thought or behaviour deny victims the rights that a White person would otherwise
receive under those circumstances, such as right to travel or the presumption of innocence. Under
Rawlsian ethics, the existence of more extensive rights to equivalent groups of same office and
position is not a fair social arrangement (Couto). As Rawls said in the Theory of Fairness, no one
shall possess an inviolability founded on justice that even the welfare of society as a whole
cannot override (Kant 3). The pursuit of a public good, such as safety, should not be achieved
through an unfair social arrangement where different racial groups are assigned different sets of
basic liberties. Infringing on the basic rights of minorities deforms their prospects in life
(Nussbaum). For instance, not allowing them to work in certain jobs restricts their potential to be
successful and acquire wealth, which further limits their ability to lead a higher standard of living

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or overcome some socioeconomic barriers that society places upon them as racialized, secondclass citizens. Allowing this to happen builds an unjust society with no free and fair cooperation
between citizens and one that, if left by itself, will reflect the brutish, savage state of nature
described by Thomas Hobbes in Leviathan (Nussbaum).

Canadian society resembles the latter of the two scenarios. As aforementioned, racism has
a long and inglorious history in Canada with serious impacts on search, surveillance, arrest and
incarceration rates within racialized communities (Badhi et al. 31). Aboriginal people, for
example, are extremely overrepresented in the criminal justice system. As 2.8 percent of
Canadas population, Aboriginals represent 17 percent of the federal offender population and are
six times more likely to be incarcerated than any other race (Badhi et al. 37). Parole hearings are
waived more frequently by them than any other offender and parole is denied at a higher rate
than non-Aboriginal offenders (Badhi et al. 37). These pieces of evidence point to a society
where racism is systemic and real in the way visible minorities live in Canada. Marginally
inconvenient policing techniques, such as carding, immediately arouse extreme feelings of
racism among racialized communities (Badhi et al. 31). In other words, these people perceive
racism as the primary driver of injustice. With such an embedded notion among members of
society, it would be unreasonable for Canadians to omit racism behind the veil of ignorance.
Hypothetical lawmakers in the original position ought to formulate rules that consider racism as
a general source of injustice. Selected social arrangements must consider whether it heals the
divided caused by racism and, furthermore, if various racial groups would accept them (Couto).
Racial profiling makes visible minorities worse off than the dominant White class and no ethnic
group would accept the practice of carding; thus, carding is unethical in the Rawlsian view.

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Is Ontarios Ban on Carding Ethical?


All three approaches used in this paper have demonstrated carding as an unethical
practice that violates the rights of visible minorities to a good life. On October 28, 2015, the
Ontario government unveiled draft regulations to amend the Police Services Act to eliminate
carding in the province. The plan entails a ban on random and arbitrary collection of information
starting on the first of March 2016 with new procedures on voluntary interactions with police
beginning on the first of July (Taber). Additionally, officers must attend mandatory training in
areas such as bias awareness, discrimination and awareness and police forces will release
annual reports on any non-arbitrary carding information collected, including the number of cards
written up as well as the age, gender and race of the individuals involved (Taber). The draft is
currently undergoing a 45-day public consultation period before it is finalized and introduced to
the legislature in 2016.

The governments decision to end carding was an excellent ethical move to address the
increasing tension within racialized communities against the practice; however, the loopholes of
the policy limits how effective it may be in addressing the ethical issues faced in the status quo.
The ban on random and arbitrary collection of information is a very open-ended policy where
there is no way for the public to ensure that the ban is enforced in the spirit of the (soon-to-be)
legislation. Being in a high crime neighbourhood, for example, cannot be the sole reason for a
street check anymore but it may still exist as one of the possible reasons (Hudson). Moreover,
there is no definition of what random collection entails. As long as officers can prove some sort
of suspicion from a criminal offence to quickly removing ones hands from their pockets they

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reserve the right to gather identifying information for intelligence purposes (Rusonik). Officers
may also card someone if they develop suspicions during the course of an informal conversation.
As long as they had no intention at the start of the conversation to record information, it would
be very hard under case law to determine that their actions were arbitrary and not random
(Rusonik). All of these loopholes in the legislation make no changes to the status quo. The actual
disutility of the practice will remain high for racial minorities as they could still be manipulated
into providing their identifying information under the pretext of a casual conversation. By
forcing officers to adopt alternative means to acquire race statistics which was not outlawed by
the regulation will make visible minorities feel more humiliated and distrustful of the police. It
may discourage them from engaging in casual conversations at all with officers, in turn reducing
the efficiency of criminal investigations and the amount of public safety and security (the public
good) that can be delivered. Assuming that some racial groups are more likely to commit crimes,
engagement with those ethnic communities may bring more light on the criminals tendencies or
way of thinking, enabling the police to accurately track them down. All of these outcomes
depend on the willingness of Ontarians to speak with their police force. If the police are resorting
to unethical tactics to sustain data collection initiatives, the regulations are creating more
disutility for the province and is not aiding the attainment of the greatest good.

There is a stronger argument in favour of the ban from a deontological standpoint. By


compelling officers to notify citizens of their right to not fill out a contact card, the regulations
respect the rational decision-making process of the individual by letting them decide if they wish
to participate or not. This demonstrates the respect for persons principle (Dimock 43). The ban
on carding could also be universalized around the globe. By outlawing the right for police

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officers to explicitly target young Black or Aboriginal males for carding, it will reduce the public
perception that Black or Aboriginal youth are more prone to committing crimes than their peers.
This may mend the class division created under current practices of racial profiling and make the
society safer by bolstering trust between police and the people. By meeting the Categorical
Imperative, the new carding ban is theoretically an ethically defensible one as it meets the
standards of supreme morality under Kantian ethics. It ensures the criminal justice system is
closer to fulfilling its perfect duty of justice by closing another means for officers to reproduce
existing power and inequality in society. The only point of concern relates to the enforcement of
regulations. Based on the draft document, there is no mechanism for ensuring that officers do
notify all citizens of their voluntary right to participation nor any punishments for violating the
regulations (Hudson). These take away from the original spirit of the regulations and thus does
not carry the same ethical assessment as in the codified version.

Ontarios ban on carding would also be supported under the Rawlsian view of justice as
fairness (Couto). By eliminating practices rooted in ungrounded racial discrimination, the
division of human rights is more equally distributed across the province. Like all of Canada,
racism is embedded in the beliefs of Ontarians and the sensitivity of the issue must be recognized
in the original position. This regulation reflects a concerted effort to ensure that visible minorities
do not receive any fewer rights on the street than non-visible minorities. To create a more
justified social arrangement, the government could propose to delete the abundant cache of
information from carding practices in the past (Hudson). Not doing this will continue to put
former carding victims at risk of being criminalized or losing their right to be free from
suspicion, as their profiles will be reviewed every time the police are looking for a suspect.

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Conclusion
It is without doubt that carding cannot be morally justified. The police force is a
reflection of the hegemony that existed in Canadas history. Historically, people of colour have
been portrayed as inferior to the dominant race. These values continue to be reinforced through
the work of police in racial profiling activities. As crime, criminality and threat to security are
often viewed as parallel with race as an indicator of dangerousness, the police profile citizens on
their racial backgrounds regardless of where they were born as a means to maintain order in
society. These people are viewed as threats to law and order and thus police feel legitimized in
discriminating against these groups. The intention of a police force, however, has always been
and should be to protect its people. Carding, then, does not protect citizens but merely generates
a second-class of citizenry that ensures their continued isolation in society, based on their
inherent characteristics. Rooted in the belief that ones skin is indicative of ones criminality,
people of colour are criminalized every day in Canada at no fault of their own. Hence, the
Ontario ban on carding is justified in order to ensure that the greatest good for the greatest
number of people is met, that policing remains true to its original duty of protecting and serving
the people rather than acting as agents of the state as well as to maintain equality in the way each
member of our society ought to be treated. In a society that takes criminality seriously and its
impacts ripple through employment, quality of life and education prospects, this ban might be the
breath of fresh air that racial minorities need. By eliminating profiling by arbitrary
characteristics, vulnerable groups can perhaps, at last, lead lives free from harassment. It may be
a small step to the larger problem of racial discrimination; however, it is the largest step the
government can take to restore the basic freedoms bestowed to them as people of this country.

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Works Cited
Bahdi, Reem, Bent Richard, Cohen Irwin et al. Racial Profiling. Vancouver: British Columbia
Civil Liberties Association, 2010. 1-86. Print.

Blatchford, Christie. "Christie Blatchford: Controversial carding Practice Is an Invaluable


Source of Intelligence for Police, If Done Right." National Post 5 June 2015, Full
Comment sec. Web. 15 Nov. 2015.

Cole, Desmond. "New Carding Rules Cant Regulate Decency and Respect in Policing: Cole."
Toronto Star 28 Oct. 2015. Web. 15 Nov. 2015.

Couto, Noemia (Naomi). Contemporary Liberal Theory: John Rawls and Justice as Fairness.
York University. Toronto, ON. 30 Sep 2015. PowerPoint Presentation.

Dimock, Susan, Mohamad Al-Hakim, Garrett MacSweeney, Alessandro Manduca-Barone,


and Anthony Antonacci. "Moral Principles and Moral Theories." Ethics and the Public
Service: Trust, Integrity, and Democracy. Nelson, 2013. 34-47. Print.

Fine, Sean. "Black Inmates Face Second-class Status in Canadian Prisons, Ombudsman Warns."
The Globe and Mail. 26 Nov 2013. Web. 17 Nov 2015.

Grant, Tavia. "Black Canadians Paid Less on Average than Whites: Study." The Globe and Mail.
4 Mar 2011, Economy Lab sec. Web. 13 Nov 2015.
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Grewal, San. "Peel Police Struggle to Find Proof Carding Works, Emails Reveal." Toronto Star.
30 Sep 2015, Urban Affairs sec. Web. 19 Nov 2015.

Hudson, Sandy. How Ontario can really end carding. Toronto Star. 10 Nov 2015. Web.
13 Nov 2015.

Kennedy, Randall. Race, Crime, and the Law. New York City: Pantheon, 1997. 152. Print.

Lombardo, Crystal. "5 Essential Pros and Cons to Racial Profiling." Anti-Alcohol & Tobacco
Blog. NLCATP, 17 Jan. 2015. Web. 6 Dec. 2015. <http://nlcatp.org/5-essential-pros-andcons-of-racial-profiling/>.

Nussbaum, Martha. "The Enduring Significance of John Rawls." The Chronical Review.
The Chronicle of Higher Education, 20 July 2001. Web. 16 Nov. 2015.

Price, Neil. This Issue Has Been with Us for Ages: A Community-based Assessment of Police
Contact Carding in 31 Division: Final Report. Toronto: Logical Outcomes, 2014. 18.
Print.

Rawls, John. A Theory of Justice. Cambridge: Belknap of Harvard UP, 1971. 3. Print.

Reiman, Jeffrey. "Is Racial Profiling Just? Making Criminal Justice Policy in the Original
Position." The Journal of Ethics (2010): 3-19. Print.

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Risse, Mathias, and Richard J. Zeckhauser. "Racial Profiling." Philosophy & Public Affairs
(2004): 131-70. Print.

"Power to the People." The Economist 2 Dec. 2010. The Economist Newspaper Limited. Web.
17 Nov. 2015.

Rudin, Jonathan. Aboriginal Peoples and the Criminal Justice System. Toronto: [Ipperwash
Inquiry], 2005. 34. Print.

Rusonik, Reid. Why do police continue to card? Toronto Star. 9 Nov 2015. Web.
13 Nov 2015.

Smith, Charles. Conflict, Crisis and Accountability: Racial Profiling and Law Enforcement in
Canada. Ottawa: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives/Centre Canadien de Politiques
Alternatives, 2007. 16. Print.

Taber, Jane. Ontario unveils draft regulations to ban police carding. The Globe and Mail.
28 Oct 2015. Web. 13 Nov 2015.

Tator, Carol and Henry Frances. Racial Profiling In Canada: Challenging the Myth of "A Few
Bad Apples". Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2006. Print.

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Thomsen, Frej Klem. "The Art of the Unseen: Three Challenges for Racial Profiling."
The Journal of Ethics (2010): 89-117. Print.

"Toronto Police Carding an 'incredibly Effective Tool'" CBC. 4 Jul 2013. Web. 17 Nov 2015.

Velasquez, Manuel, Claire Andre, Thomas Shanks, and Michael J. Meyer. "The Common
Good." Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, 21 Mar. 1992.
Web. 21 Nov. 2015. <http://www.scu.edu/ethics/practicing/decision/commongood.html>.

Woof, Bill. Kant and Deontological Theories. Schulich School of Business, York University.
Toronto, ON. 19 Feb 2013. PowerPoint Presentation.

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OUTLINE: Ethics of Police Carding in Canada


As enforcers of the justice system, police forces are the most identifiable public servants
for everyday Canadians. They are the core of our liberal democracy and work together, using
various strategies, with communities to enhance public safety. One of these highly controversial
strategies is carding, a police practice of recording highly detailed personal information from
citizens in non-criminal encounters (Logical Outcomes). With more knowledge of a population,
police can target offenders sooner and more accurately, reducing the time and cost spent on
investigating false suspects. Critics, however, argue that carding is merely another form of racial
profiling towards visible minorities, particularly the Afro-Canadian community. Statistics have
supported the overrepresentation of blacks in these practices. In 2008, for instance, blacks
represented 8.6 percent of Torontos population yet formed 22.6 percent of all carded individuals;
comparatively, white individuals represented 53.1 percent of Torontonians but accounted for a
more proportionate 55.2 percent of all carding submissions (Logical Outcomes). Ontario has
recently pledged to curb some but not all elements of carding by March 1, 2016.

The objective of the final paper is to assess if the practice of carding is ethical and, if not,
how it can be changed to better serve the Canadian public interest. It will draw on key ethical
approaches such as consequentialism, as well as principles from Kantian, Rawlsian, and justice
compensatory and distributive ethics. Emphasis will be placed on the Canadian context as its
restrained experiences with racism drastically differs it from ethical analyses of similar programs
in the UK or the United States. The paper will attempt to prove that current carding practices in
Canada worsen the racial divide between Canadians and is unjustified under any of the ethical
frameworks. Analysis will be discussed in two components that make carding possible:
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Part 1: Ethics of Racial Profiling (a larger umbrella including carding practices, frisking,
etc.)
-

(Utilitarian) The net social utility of acquiring more information, by profiling, does not

justify the probable socioeconomic burdens brought upon its victims


(Kantian) Using statistical information to target certain races violates the respect for
persons principle; if universalized, the lack of care for visible minorities will eventually
rid all minorities from Canada, leaving only one race of white Canadians in Canada

does not meet the categorical imperative


(Rawlsian) In a society with no institutional memory of racism, profiling is ethical in the
original position as it is done in proportion to the gravity of the crime being investigated
o In parts of Canada where the memory exists, racism becomes part of the general
knowledge in the original position and any continuation will bring more
indifference and hostility to Afro-Canadians, violate their natural rights

Part 2: Ethics of Police Discretion


-

If applied correctly, discretion allows officers to card the right individuals and form an

effective database of suspects in solving crimes at low cost to law-abiding citizens


Too much discretion may allow cognitive biases to affect decisions, convincing them that
one is more dangerous than another, leading to pre-emptive uses of force each
individual is not assessed independently but automatically as part of the larger race

Literature Review
Dimock, Susan, Mohamad Al-Hakim, Garrett MacSweeney, Alessandro Manduca-Barone,

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and Anthony Antonacci. "Moral Principles and Moral Theories." Ethics and the Public
Service: Trust, Integrity, and Democracy. Nelson, 2013. 34-47. Print.
Textbook chapter that provides in-depth explanation of key ethical theories and their
applications.

Lever, Annabelle. "Treating People as Equals: Ethical Objections to Racial Profiling and the
Composition of Juries." The Journal of Ethics (2010): 61-78. Print.
Frequently referred in other academic works, this paper explains why race is a poor proxy for
criminality and proposes alternative ways to achieve the same results, with less harm to the black
community.

Nowacki, J. S. "Organizational-Level Police Discretion: An Application for Police Use of Lethal


Force." Crime & Delinquency (2011): 643-68. Print.
In-depth analysis of police discretion and how, between 1980 and 1984, the room for cognitive
biases evolved into increased lethal force against the black population. This will be useful for
assessing why the current state of carding with so much discretion has failed so far.

Reiman, Jeffrey. "Is Racial Profiling Just? Making Criminal Justice Policy in the Original
Position." The Journal of Ethics (2010): 3-19. Print.
Racial profiling analysis through a deontological, original position approach. Makes many but
not all valid points about how racist and non-racist society have different positions and
explains how the practice can be ethically permissible in both cases.

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"This Issue Has Been With Us for Ages" A Community-Based Assessment of Police Contact
Carding in 31 Division. Toronto: Logical Outcomes, 2014. Print.
The most relevant report for factual information on the status of carding in Toronto and Ontario.
Unlike other resources, it specifically tackles the issue of carding rather than racial profiling
and is excellent backgrounder for statistics, surveys and human interviews.

Thomsen, Frej Klem. "The Art of the Unseen: Three Challenges for Racial Profiling."
The Journal of Ethics (2010): 89-117. Print.
Examines the consequentialist benefits and costs of racial profiling. Lists four specific costs
anti-deterrent, alienation, stigmatization, and inequality and address three challenges
foundation, valuation, and application that make a strong case of net disutility in these
practices.

This is an excellent topic and the elements to want to include in your


analysis are good. Make sure you state your argument in your
introduction, and tell your readers how you are going to support
your argument.
In order to be up-to-date, you should take into account the recent
decision by the Ontario government to restrict the police use of
carding across the province. There has been a good deal written
about this in the Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail, and you can

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use these articles in your paper. You might want to argue, for
example, that the government's decision to end carding was the
ethically justifiable one, or alternatively that the government's
decision is not ethically defensible, but simply bowing to public
pressure.
Keep up the good work!
4.2/5

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