featured Racism

Human Rights Commission slow out of the starting block for carding data analysis

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – A Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission (NSHRC) sponsored expert analysis of carding (or police street checks) data is behind schedule.

The investigation was triggered after Black community members in an open letter called for an end to the practice of carding and questioned its legality. The group wanted the human rights commission to investigate the practice and asked for police to immediately halt street checks, which they argued violates citizens’ individual rights under the Constitution.

Most people who spoke at a community meeting in the Halifax North End library doubted that racial profiling is part and parcel of police street checks. The Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission is hiring an expert to see if they’re right.Photo Robert Devet

The group never got that moratorium it asked for, but in April the NSHRC announced that it will lead a narrow investigation into the practice of carding in Halifax. An expert will be hired to determine if discrimination actually occurs or if it’s perhaps coincidence that Black people are more than three times more likely to be streetchecked than white people.

“What we determined was that there should be a review of the data by an independent expert so that we understand what the issues are, and then we come together with the community and the HRM after that to talk about what comes next,” said Christine Hanson, CEO of the NSHRC when we interviewed her in April.  

At that time the NSHRC suggested that it expected the initial data review to be concluded sometime in July, and that at that time a report would be issued containing the data analysis report as well as hopefully a framework for next steps.

“I hope that will be possible, our next step is we will be replying to the community folks. They are fully appraised and are very pleased. They want to fully understand the data as well, and having that information will help us determine what the next step is,” Hanson told the Nova Scotia Advocate in April.

But when I asked for an update yesterday, this July target was put in doubt.

“A number of highly qualified individuals have been proposed and the Commission is currently in discussions concerning who would be most appropriate to conduct the review. We hope to proceed with the review over the summer months,” wrote Adria May, spokesperson for the NSHRC.

If you’re still busy hiring the expert in June you’re not giving yourself a whole lot of time to meet that July target.  My follow up question about the July date, after some back and forth, was answered as follows:

“Selecting a person to undertake the analysis is the first priority and we will work with that individual to determine timelines. A number of highly qualified individuals have been proposed and the Commission is currently in discussions concerning who would be most appropriate. We can anticipate that we will have results sometime in the Fall and they will be shared with our police colleagues and community partners first since we are working together on this initiative.”

“As we noted, there were a large number of possible experts proposed and the Commission is going through a vetting process to ensure all parties are satisfied. This is the updated timeline.”

It looks like the Fall is the new July. 

Check here for the full exchange between the Nova Scotia Advocate and the NS Human Rights Commission.

If you can, please support the Nova Scotia Advocate so that it can continue to cover issues such as poverty, racism, exclusion, workers’ rights and the environment in Nova Scotia. A pay wall is not an option since it would exclude many readers who don’t have any disposable income at all. We rely entirely on one-time donations and a tiny but mighty group of kindhearted monthly sustainers.