Toronto Election 2014: Issue Navigator—Policing
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Toronto Election 2014:
Issue Navigator—Policing

Photo by That Boy, from the Torontoist Flickr pool.

Olivia Chow

Olivia Chow has expressed a desire to sit on the Toronto Police Services Board if she is elected mayor. She contends that her participation will allow her to advocate an end to police carding, the controversial police practice of stopping civilians and documenting their personal identification. Chow has taken a strong stance against carding; in reference to the disproportionate impact of carding on non-white Torontonians, Chow has called it “a practice that has been found to cause pain and oppression.”

Chow has said she will curb the police budget by reducing the force’s overtime hours. She has not specified how she would do this, nor how much money she proposes to save. The move will certainly receive pushback from the police union, whose president has said proposals to alter police shifts are oversimplified.

Chow has also vowed to expand the use of Mobile Crisis Intervention Teams (MCITs), which can respond to incidents involving residents in mental distress. A recent review of police interactions with such residents recommended the expansion of MCITs, but Chow has not put a dollar figure on any additional investment. Chow has also said she would expand a pilot project intended to prevent crime before it happens; she has again failed to provide a dollar figure for any new investment.

Doug Ford

Doug Ford has been vague on the issue of police carding, the controversial police practice of stopping civilians and documenting their personal identification. Ford has said that while he doesn’t support discrimination (carding disproportionately affects non-white Torontonians), he feels that “certain carding is required.” He has not noted any specific problems with carding, nor proposed any changes to the practice.

Ford has repeatedly affirmed his support for, specifically, Toronto’s front-line police officers. This distinction is necessary because of his well-publicized conflict with Police Chief Bill Blair. In August, Ford suggested Blair was responsible for leaking news that Mayor Rob Ford, Doug’s brother, would be called to testify in the case of accused extortionist Sandro Lisi. When Blair filed a defamation notice against Doug Ford, the latter apologized for his comments.

During an interview on CBC’s Metro Morning, Ford boasted that his brother had set a target of hiring 300 new officers, and that the force had hired 200. He did not say he was committed to hiring the additional 100, nor did he explain why Toronto needs these officers as crime rates continue to decrease across the city. Ford has also never addressed the fact that, despite the mayor’s ostensible dedication to cutting costs, he negotiated a significant increase in police salaries in 2011.

John Tory

John Tory has taken a wait-and-see position on police carding, the controversial police practice of stopping civilians and documenting their personal identification. Tory has said he does not wish to abolish the practice completely, but would rather see it reformed. He says police need tools in order to do their jobs, but has not addressed the disproportionate impact of carding on non-white people.

Tory has not articulated any definitive policies on policing. He has promised not to reduce the total number of police officers. Tory has sometimes addressed questions on policing by criticizing Olivia Chow’s pledge to sit on the police board; he has pointed out that she resigned from the board as a councillor in 2000.

Tory’s failure to engage in policing issues in 2014 is a dramatic change from his run for mayor in 2003, during which he promised to hire 400 officers, ban panhandling, and allow police easier access to DNA samples (which is not to say any of these issues remain his priorities).

The police budget has increased by $387 for each Torontonian in the last four years. Tory is running on a platform of controlling costs, but he has offered little of substance on this major budget issue.

See also: