Many Ontario police services refuse to enforce Ford government’s new random stop laws

Ontario Premier Doug Ford points on a COVID-19 caseload projection model graph during a press conference at Queen's Park, in Toronto, Friday.

After the Ontario government announced Friday they were giving police the power to randomly stop pedestrians and motorists on the streets, multiple police services have come forward saying they will not be making use of these new powers.

“Moving forward, police will have the authority to require any individual who is not in a place of residence to, first, provide their purpose for not being at home, and provide their home address,” Ontario Solicitor General Sylvia Jones said, adding this also means motor vehicles can be randomly pulled over.

Jones put on a tough face when asked what would happen if Ontarians didn’t go along with these requests.

“If you are not willing to comply, then you are breaking the law and there is the option for the police officer to issue a ticket,” Jones said.

The new orders carry a $750 fine for a first offence.

However, several police services across the province have since released statements to that effect that they will not be making use of these new powers.

“New emergency orders announced yesterday to help limit the spread of COVID-19 are now in effect,” Toronto Police Service posted to social media Saturday morning. “The (TPS) will continue to engage, educate and enforce, but we will not be doing random stops of people or cars.”

The Ottawa Police Service stated in a news release: “The OPS will not be conducting random stops. We will be taking a deliberate and careful approach that emphasizes equity, legality, and efficacy in the application of these authorities with the specific and exclusive purpose to support public health measures.”

Police services in other jurisdictions — including Halton, Waterloo, Guelph, Peterborough — released similar clarifications.

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association described the provincial announcement as “a Black Friday of rights slashing by Queen’s Park … risking a rash of racial profiling and over broad police police powers, presuming everyone outside guilty until proven otherwise. The mobility rights restrictions fail to achieve constitutional proportionality.”

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