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The Toronto Police Service is investigating a complaint by an actor, who said he witnessed an officer telling a driver to “go back to your country.”

Andrew Phung, who stars in CBC’s Kim’s Convenience, was on his way to a Blue Jays game Saturday around 3 p.m. when he encountered a police officer directing traffic at Rees Street and Lake Shore Boulevard.

As an SUV rolled up to the intersection, Mr. Phung recalled on Sunday, the officer waved it through. But the driver, whom he described as a person of colour, seemed flustered and paused.

“Go, go, it’s your turn,” Mr. Phung said the officer yelled.

After the vehicle passed through, the police officer walked back toward the sidewalk where Mr. Phung and roughly 20 other people were standing.

“If you can’t drive, go back to your country,” Mr. Phung said the officer remarked.

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Andrew Phung.Peter Power/The Canadian Press

Mr. Phung – whose parents both immigrated to Canada from Vietnam – said he was taken aback.

“There were about 20 of us there. I just groaned, and said, ‘Come on, not cool.’”

He said he questioned for a moment whether to say anything. But as an actor who has been an advocate for diverse representation on screen, he felt an obligation to speak up.

“We can’t normalize this behaviour,” he said. “How do we rise above police doing this? They are [supposed to be] the line of defence against this.”

Mr. Phung tweeted about the incident, and wrote an e-mail complaint to the police service.

Toronto Police spokesperson Mark Pugash said Saturday they “spent the evening gathering information so we can investigate what happened.”

In a phone interview on Sunday, Mr. Phung stressed he has great respect for police and first responders.

“I believe there are two sides to every story, but in this case I was there for all the sides,” he said. “That comment is not justified.”

This allegation of racism comes amidst a reignited debate around a controversial Toronto police violence-suppression unit that was disbanded last year for its high rates of carding.

Carding is the police practice of stopping people and recording their information without a reasonable suspicion of an offence.

It has been criticized for disproportionately targeting people of colour, and the province implanted regulations last year to put an end to it.

Despite this, some police officers argue they have lost a necessary investigative tool as a result.

Last week, a Toronto police officer penned a letter to Mayor John Tory, blaming the recent surge of gun violence in the city on Mr. Tory’s decision to cancel the Toronto Anti-Violence Intervention Strategy (TAVIS) in 2016 − a violence-suppression unit that was disbanded because of its high rates of carding.

In the letter, first obtained by Global News, the officer said that Chief Mark Saunders is a “puppet,” whose strings are pulled by the mayor − and that TAVIS “kept gangs at bay.”

But anti-carding activists have long argued the program led to fractured relationships between the service and people of colour. And even Chief Mark Saunders has acknowledged it was a flawed program.

In a statement issued on Friday night, Mr. Saunders said that they are investigating the letter and that the officer − whom he does not name − will be disciplined if found to have committed misconduct.

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