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Updated: 2017-09-22T08:26:50.372-04:00

 



For a recent decision involving a police officer t...

2011-11-17T18:44:28.820-05:00

For a recent decision involving a police officer that speaks out about the code of silence that exists in the Ontario Police Service, see Cadarette v. Peel Regional Police Services Board, 2011 HRTO 1660.

Also, the highly-profile case of R v Bonds, 2010 ONCJ 561 discusses this problem.



For a more recent story by the Toronto Star on all...

2011-07-20T19:46:09.252-04:00

For a more recent story by the Toronto Star on allegations that the Toronto Police Service is violating its name tag policy, see: http://www.thestar.com/news/article/1027386--police-violating-name-tag-policy-u-of-t-student-claims?bn=1



Congratulations, LEAP!

2011-04-07T16:15:44.867-04:00

Congratulations, LEAP!



The final report from the Inquiry into the Death o...

2011-03-07T11:16:24.611-05:00

The final report from the Inquiry into the Death of Neil Stonechild can be read here: http://www.justice.gov.sk.ca/stonechild/finalreport/default.shtml



Related to this post recent Globe and Mail article...

2011-02-24T12:01:51.661-05:00

Related to this post recent Globe and Mail article dated February 24, 2011 "Judge appears to blame victim in sexual-assault case"

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/prairies/judge-appears-to-blame-victim-in-sexual-assault-case/article1918444/



A report was recently released on Canada's ail...

2011-01-09T14:02:38.242-05:00

A report was recently released on Canada's ailing access to and freedom of information laws. See http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/canada-ranks-last-in-freedom-of-information-study/article1863083/



I've often wondered why so much time, "af...

2011-01-08T17:43:15.781-05:00

I've often wondered why so much time, "after the fact" is required for document preparation and disclosure. Aren't those documents required for investigative purposes anyway? Just to lay the charge. Documents should be completed on the day of the offence (or shortly thereafter) and only require photocopying or electronic submission in future. Tasks which can be completed by administrative staff. Evidence which is not created but obtained should require even less time from front line officers as it is turned over to the Crown's office to sift through. Recent requests from Toronto Police Services for an increased budget make me wonder if there isn't a better way to trim expenses.

I think we have a significant incongruity between what we expect of police investigations in court and the training provided to front line officers. It might be worthwhile to examine the educational process for officers since so much of what happens in court is dependant on their information. Perhaps there are efficiencies to be gained through officer education that can help with the budget. Many officers have little legal training beyond legislative offences, how can we expect them to adhere to complex jurisprudence when lawyers have a minimum of 7 years of postsecondary education before they can practice and police receive approximately 20 weeks with no postsecondary requirements. Since most of disclosure is about determining what should be handed to defence counsel most of the work should be conducted by the Crown's office, placing less strain on the police. Maybe the answer isn't to change our expectations of officers but to train the force we currently have to more efficiently meet those expectations, and ensure that the correct departments are performing the individual tasks involved in evidence collection and disclosure.



Congratulations LEAP! What a great way to start th...

2011-01-05T22:34:30.688-05:00

Congratulations LEAP! What a great way to start the new year...keep up the excellent work.



"Furthermore, 7 million tax dollars each year...

2010-11-29T00:42:54.065-05:00

"Furthermore, 7 million tax dollars each year are put into running the SIU. This means that in 20 years, a total of 140 million dollars has gotten us 16 convictions. The question then is, what is really the point of the SIU? Is it honestly trying to hold officers accountable, or are the investigations simply done to give the impression that something is being done?"

Is the purpose of the SIU to charge officers? I should hope not. As a former police officer, and current law student, I would be dismayed if that was the reason for setting up the SIU. Having former co-workers deal with the SIU, I can tell you it is not as buddy buddy as the Toronto "Red" Star would like its readers to believe.

The purpose/mandate of the Toronto Star should and has always been to investigate incidents of serious bodily harm or death, and sexual assault allegations of police officers. It is to act as a neutral government actor, but what they should not be blamed for is not charging police officers.

Just think of the ramifications that would result if the police were judged on arrest statistics... hmmm sounds eerily like the US.

I read all of the articles, and the one case that struck me the most is the case where the young girl was run over by the police car. What the Star fails to mention is that girl was BREAKING THE LAW when she was run over. The City/Town of Ajax like most cities/towns in Ontario have bylaws that explicitly state that you cannot be in a park after 11:00pm. She definitely was. As such, how should a police officer know that there would be somebody laying in the grass at that time of night. I've driven a police car through a park at night, its a very common tactic to flush out those committing crimes by the cover of darkness.

I think in the end, my point was made earlier. The SIU should NEVER be judged on what it produces in terms of charges or arrests.



Great Post! Being a Muslim myself, I can attest ...

2010-11-23T01:05:44.777-05:00

Great Post!

Being a Muslim myself, I can attest to the stigmatization and social exclusion of what has been constructed as a dangerous 'pariah.'

This reminds me of an experience where a health care professional, upon discovering that I was born in Saudi Arabia, asked me whether I believe in abusing women; as if being Muslim automatically made me into a barbaric and violent human being.

I have come to view this as what Edward Syed described as "Orientalism" where the West but also global media, more generally, has constructed, and continues to disseminate and reproduce the idea of the Middle-Eastern individual as foreign, unknown, mysterious, and dangerous.

This is most apparent in Canadian and North American practices such as no fly lists, security certificates, and arbitrary detention under the Anti-Terrorism Act, Freezing Assets, and also in the labeling of practices such as "Flying While Arab."

Ironically, these efforts undermine national security and create resentment in the Muslim population. This resentment and frustration extends towards law enforcement and policy-makers but also becomes generalized to broader societal institutions. I have witnessed the resentment, sorrow and helplessness amongst my peers at mosques and gatherings where conversations revolve around race and religion based inequality and disenfranchisement.



"Do you think police officers that cause harm...

2010-11-22T18:10:59.649-05:00

"Do you think police officers that cause harm when on-duty should be subject to the same punishments as an average citizen causing the same level of harm would be?"

Police Officers should be subject to the same (or enhanced) sentencing that the average citizen would be sentenced to for a comparable offence.

My reasons for this are largely due to the power imbalance between Officers and average citizens. Officers are humans and just like the rest of us, they make mistakes. However, they are not just humans. They are humans with a lot of power that appears to be unregulated. I fail to understand how they can get away with assault, sexual assault, manslaughter, and murder. How they obtain a one-week probation without pay for manslaughter, or six-month sentences for murder or attempted murder.

I am hardly well versed in this area but I know enough to say that it is not in an officers jurisdiction to decide who should be sentenced to assault, sexual assault, or any other form of brutality that has left the hands of some Officers. Last time I checked, those weren’t sentences to begin with! Why these Officers aren’t being sentenced for these crimes perplexes me. I am left confused and very disturbed that Officers are getting away with crimes that no other citizen would get away with. Nor should they.

In defence of the officers, I do understand that their line of work requires them to make decisions in a way we cannot comprehend. They are often faced with circumstances that would scare any one of us if we were playing a simple video game. That being said, Officers are trained and equipped personnel who are provided with the power to protect society to the best of their ability. Due to this extensive training, protective measures (backup, bullet proof vests, etc.), and responsibility to society, the above reasons are no excuses for the brutality that I have been hearing about in the last few months.

In summary, I strongly feel that because Officers are in a position of power, their minimum sentence should be the same as what the average citizen faces.

Please note that I state these arguments with the clear regard for the Officers who have done their best to serve society in a respectable manner. Of course they should not be found guilty of a death in the event that they performed their duties to the best of their abilities. Due to their line of work, they are more likely to be in a position to assault or murder someone. That is an undisputed fact. However, they are also the best-trained individuals to prevent the manifestation of those occurrences. So it is my view that the Officers who so clearly step out of the boundaries of their roles are those who should be tried like every other one of us, if not more strictly, simply because they abused the powers that were provided to them with the faith and confidence that they would exert those powers respectfully, appropriately, and purposefully.



Many of these minorities who have been discriminat...

2010-10-26T22:57:05.566-04:00

Many of these minorities who have been discriminated against during a police investigation may feel that bringing their complaint to the proper authorities will lead to further discrimination. They may fear that their story will be deemed 'fabricated' or 'illegitimate.' I believe that a billboard campaign encouraging people to report racial profiling would be beneficial. This campaign would likely work best in the 'inner-city' region of municipalities. This campaign is not a complete solution to the problem of racial profiling and discrimination, but it definitely will have a tangible effect in regards to decreasing the amount of people who are racially-profiled and discriminated against. These billboards will be easily seen by the police officers who sometimes facilitate discrimination, and may cause these officers to take a look at their own conduct, and in turn cause them to make the appropriate adjustments in the way they carry out their investigations. Matt G Law I



Great blog. It's quite possible that police m...

2010-10-17T22:44:42.851-04:00

Great blog.

It's quite possible that police may take advantage of this ruling by dragging interrogations out as long as they can without the presence of counsel; however, individuals who are accused of an offence still maintain the right to remain silent. Most lawyers will stress this right to their clients and urge them not to answer any questions. Aggressive police interrogations are not unheard of in the past (prior to this ruling). There have been cases where confessions or evidence attained through these questionable techniques were considered inadmissible at trial. In terms of any issues that arise (i.e. infringing Charter rights) during police interrogations, I would like to believe that they would be adequately addressed by the courts.

Considering it was 5-4 decision demonstrates that it is a highly debatable case that could have easily gone the other way.



I would have to agree with the aforementioned poin...

2010-10-17T12:45:53.524-04:00

I would have to agree with the aforementioned point in that an accused may be coerced to give confessions just to end the misery... I would also like to add that although legal procedure stipulates that the accused must be read his rights at the time of arrest, in many cases this is not enough and should be held as being far different from facilitating the process by which those rights are acted upon/implemented. This is most apparent when it is stated: “an initial warning, coupled with a reasonable opportunity to consult counsel when the detainee invokes the right” is sufficient and that police need not “hold off” on further questioning just because a suspect indicates he or she wants to speak with counsel.”

One should also consider the power imbalance between law enforcement and members of the public. This power imbalance is not just of a legal and political nature but when analyzed through a sociological lens, one discovers that the accused, especially one who faces language and/or other barriers, would be inadvertently but severely affected by such interrogation. Moreover, I feel as if the ruling in this case and the comments above, with all respect, align themselves with themes of efficiency and productivity; which are tenets of a crime-control philosophy of justice not conducive towards preserving and cherishing the rights of the accused to the extent that the justice system is capable of. As the CCLA argued, “it is necessary to give suspects access to a lawyer upon request in order to help reduce the likelihood of miscarriages of justice”

Accessibility to counsel is also important in that many accused individuals, although may be away of their rights (or may have merely have been read them by the officer) may not be able to determine the application of these rights in the situation that they have found themselves in. The purpose of Section 10(b) as explicitly indicated is “to provide a detainee with an opportunity to obtain legal advice relevant to his legal situation.”



Very well-written blog, Pamela! I think the polic...

2010-10-14T22:12:47.685-04:00

Very well-written blog, Pamela!

I think the police need to use many means necessary to find the truth of situations, I'd think that's the purpose of an interrogation...but entering into this endurance contest to see who will cave first seems like the interrogators are attempting to get out of the accused that which may, or may not, have happened. I feel that this could coerce an accused to give confessions just to end the misery, be it true or not, and this would be exacerbated by the lack of available counsel. This would certainly be foolish, but given the circumstances of being forced to sit in a small room for 6 hours while being bombarded with questions, people may cave in.

As per Parliament's changing of legislature to allow the right to counsel throughout interrogation, I'm not convinced...I feel this could be obstruction of interrogation if counsel instructs the accused on what to say or what not to say.

Interesting debate!



There is an argument to be made that it should. By...

2010-09-08T15:17:38.199-04:00

There is an argument to be made that it should. By imposing a potential monetary cost upon the State, theoretically the state will have an impetus to force its servants to behave constitutionally.

Whether or not this has been effective is perhaps a dubious question. You might compare with 42 USC 1983 in the United States, which permits everyone who has had their rights infringed by a servant of the state to sue for damages or other remedies, which has been used in a similar manner about 1960.

I do believe I've seen a book on this exact topic, but I do not have it to hand, unfortunately- specifically referring to American police and the application of section 1983 damages.



I am not sure I agree with the basic thrust of the...

2010-09-08T15:06:56.773-04:00

I am not sure I agree with the basic thrust of the post, primarily because, I sense, that this is one of those situations in which previous events tend to fade out of focus and seem less significant. It is therefore often, if not always true, that the most recent event seems to be the 'strongest display', given that it is most strongly in the public consciousness.

Specifically for example, while reading I considered a number of different protest incidents in the past, generally regarding aboriginal land claims. While the most recent incidents have been relatively peaceful, prior incidents were not so. Ontario provincial police shot Dudley George in 1995 during a land claim's protest, and in that same year, the RCMP deployed nine APCs, five helicopters, two fixed-wing aircraft, and four hundred paramilitary officers to Gustafsen lake, who fired 77,000 rounds of ammunition and blew up a car with a landmine in order to deal with a protest by a few dozen individuals.

Moreover, in specifically the case of the G-20, it's worth noting that the primary concern over the response of the Toronto police and the Ontario government (under the Public Works Protection Act) seems to have been the result of actions of the provincial government, not the federal government.

Ultimately, there was very limited, if any, involvement by the federal government in the actual implementation of security measures surrounding the G-20.

Having just skimmed over anonymous's comment, I think that while our comments dovetail, where they separate is that I don't think this is an issue of race. The police response to protest is not so much a matter of race (although, race often determines who protests in the first place) but is more a matter of the political and tactical environment in which they operate. Where protestors are politically unpopular and located in a tactical environment that minimizes the likelihood of collateral damage (such as at Gustafsen Lake), they are far more likely to engage with significant force.

There have been a number of political protests in Toronto that have not resulted in significant harm to the protestors; Tamil protests come to mind. But G-20 protestors are politically unpopular, and moreover, were in a tactical environment with very limited potential for collateral damage. That allowed the police to use disproportionately significant force, but the situation surrounding that use of force was not unexpected.



As the author, I would agree with this comment. Th...

2010-08-26T16:39:46.271-04:00

As the author, I would agree with this comment. The poor, the First Nations people and many disadvantaged groups face state sponsored repression. Hopefully, the co-operation of the many groups at the G20, who were protesting exactly the kind of violence that this commentator raises, will create linkages that address issues of police violence.



I find it telling that the author describes the po...

2010-08-24T18:36:47.475-04:00

I find it telling that the author describes the police response to protesters at the G20 as being "the strongest display of state intervention against protest that Canada has ever seen."

While there can be no doubt that the spectacle of police violence at the G20 did indeed criminalize dissent, and was extremely violent, calling it the strongest display of state intervention against protest that Canada has ever seen very simply ignores the historic and current reality of First Nations people, racialized people, and poor people in this country.

For example, First Nations communities have been experiencing police violence for expressing dissent for centuries. Pepper spray, real bullets and over zealous police have been a constant throughout the history of the colonization of First Nations land here in Canada.

While it is crucial that we continue to speak out against state violence, it is equally crucial that we connect this struggle to already existing struggles.

In particular, the struggles of activists who spent one night in jail must be connected to allready existing prison justice struggles. We need to highlight not only the plight of those activists who were detained during protest, but also the plight of prisoners who are detained everyday and the conditions that they are subjected to.

First Nations people, poor and otherwise marginalized people and racialized communities in general in Canada have always, and continue to be subjected to over-policing, heightened securitization, over-zealous policing, and police tactics that are intended to curb dissent. There is nothing novel about police violence - the only novelty was the demographic on the receiving end of the violence at the G20.

Outcries about the injustices perpetuated by the police and the state at the G20 (and there are many) must connect to already existing struggles faced by so many in Canada who are subjected to living in a police state on a daily basis.



Although large international summits such as the G...

2010-07-25T16:21:45.530-04:00

Although large international summits such as the G20 require heightened levels of security, it goes without saying that security must be attained in a constitutional matter. In the aftermath of the summit, it is clear that this was not always the case among the 1,000 arrests made by police in riot gear using tasers and tear gas guns, which unnecessarily created an oppressive atmosphere.
Based on the alleged abuse of power by the police over the G20 weekend, the Ombudsman is now conducting an investigation into the controversial “secret” G20 law. More specifically, one issue complainants find problematic is how the “five-metre rule,” as it was reported by Chief Blair, contravened their constitutional rights to demonstrate. Although recommendations from the Ombudsman are not binding on the government in any way, the Ombudsman’s power of moral suasion could potentially persuade the government to correct their security measures in the future, and much of this power is dependent on public awareness. If the Ombudsman’s findings must be accurate with no margin of error, and if the recommendations are practical, it would be difficult for the government to not accept any recommendations, especially amidst a potential public outcry following the release of the findings.
Despite the Ombudsman’s report (to be released within 90 days), the Canadian Civil Liberties Association’s inquiry, and the Toronto Police Services Board’s civilian review of police governance, it’s interesting to note that a poll suggests most Canadians support G20 policing. The survey for the Canadian Press found that two-thirds of people believed police response was appropriate, whereas one in five found the police response inappropriate out of the 1,000 Canadians surveyed. If the reality is that most Canadians do not find the police tactics to be disturbing or contrary to Constitutional rights to freedom of expression and association, the recommendations from the Ombudsman’s office to ensure government accountability may not be effective. Yet, that does not appear to be the case considering that there is a real public interest in police actions. Apart from the separate inquiries and investigations mentioned, the Toronto Community Mobilization Network is calling for photos, videos and stories of alleged police brutality to produce a report that will lead to firings and charges for persons responsible for the laws limiting rights, among other abuses of power. Together, the investigational efforts of independent groups and organizations dispel the apparent consensus of police response as appropriate and may potentially lead to real changes in security measures for such events.



There are many Torontonians that are ready to turn...

2010-07-07T20:55:21.861-04:00

There are many Torontonians that are ready to turn the page, put the events behind them, and move on from the G20 summit. In the same vein, there are people who have heavily criticized the plight of the protesters and argue that overall, breaking the windows at a Starbucks, vandalizing local businesses, yelling at riot cops, and throwing objects did not help their cause. The general position is that during the G20 weekend not all of those who came to protest do so legitimately. Reading the comments I started to question what the bigger picture is. Leading up to the summit, there was a growing polarization of opinion. It is true that hindsight is always 20-20; protesters, police and bystanders all have different accounts of the events of Toronto summit. The truth is that the price tag on the summit was excessive. In short, the money being spent would architect this disaster. The reality is that the aftermath of the G20 summit will last for sometime. The city has yet to completely shed the police-state feeling that overpowered it during the G20 summit. The newspapers continued to be filled with individual stories of what happened that weekend. The complaints from the summit are mounting, which include the four journalists, now known as the “Free Press 4”, represented by Toronto lawyer Julian Falconer, who have filed a complaint with the Office of Independent Police Review, claiming physical assault and sexual threats from the G20 officers. Others, possibly intimidated and not trusting of the complaints process, have turned to the Canadian Civil Liberties Association for help. There have been reports that G20 protesters are launching a complaint with the United Nations.As for those individuals and organizations that are unwilling to turn the page, they are seeking accountability. My beef is with the government and the system. The disbelief I feel lies with my perception of Canada and more specifically of the City of Toronto: one of tolerance, innovation, diversity, and progression. In general, when dissent is treated the way it was during the Toronto summit it is a slap in the face of the principles of democracy. Chief Blair has a lot to answer for, but arguably it was McGuinty’s Liberal government that set this disaster in motion. The government failed to announce this new law. Further, while the chaos ensued, the liberal government made no effort over the G20 weekend to set the record straight. The McGuinty government has failed to take responsibility for giving the police powers that they were never supposed to have. The silence of the Premier has been both deafening and very telling, almost a week after the revelation of the non-existent 5-metre rule, McGuinty admitted that he could have done better but offered no apology for the G20 confusion. McGuinty, the potential subject of a public inquiry, has said there is no need for a review into the events of the G20 summit. With the Premier’s response, I am left with the view that it was acceptable to sacrifice freedoms in pursuit of a false sense of safety and security. With that said, the Toronto Police Service Board (TPSB) has just announced that they will be establishing an Independent Civilian Review to “identify and study issues raised by the public and Board members regarding oversight, governance, accountability, transparency and the communications and supervision issues arising from a multi-jurisdictional model of policing in the context of the governance role and policies of the Toronto Police Services Bo[...]



Like most Canadians, and some commentators on this...

2010-07-05T20:09:40.108-04:00

Like most Canadians, and some commentators on this blog, I believe the G20 Summit was a failure on many levels. We should certainly be pressing the government to explain its decision to hold the summit in Toronto, the sizeable cost, and minimal compensation available to those affected by the disruption and destruction. However, I also believe that there should be a focused, and perhaps distinct, investigation into the methods of detention employed by police, and the conduct of high-ranking police officials. Given the serious nature of the reported rights infringements, there is need for all Canadians to push for an independent public inquiry into police conduct during the G20.Dimitri Soudas, spokesman for Prime Minister Harper, has stated that police at the summit were “ultimately doing their job”. Admittedly, conducting security at major world conference is ‘difficult’; however, in no way does the difficulty of this task justify compromising the civil liberties of Canadian citizens. Part of hosting an international conference, which will foreseeably draw mass protests, is creating security tactics that respect individual rights and deescalate tensions. It is clear, however, that rights-centered methods were not a serious priority, particularly in relation to detention. If civil liberties had been properly considered, organizers would have ensured: firstly that sufficient water, food, and restrooms were available to those detained; secondly, detainees had the ability to access legal representation; thirdly, proper procedures were followed in relation to searches and seizures; and finally, that individuals were detained based upon ‘reasonable grounds’, instead of corralling mass numbers people, including innocent by-standers. Toronto’s Chief of Police, Bill Blair, maintains that if individuals feel mistreated, they have the right to file a complaint via the Complaints Process. Indeed, filing complaints against specific officers can be an effective means of redress. However, the filing of individual complaints does not preclude a simultaneous independent public inquiry. Individual complaints and an independent inquiry cannot be conflated; each remedy has different aims and distinct methods.The failings of the G20 security efforts go beyond the actions of a few individual officers. It is clear wrongdoing also occurred in the upper echelons. Bill Blair’s dissemination of misleading information relating to the “secret 5 meter regulation”, enacted under Ontario’s Public Works Protection Act, is the most obvious example of high-level misconduct. Furthermore, Blair’s purposed internal examination is a similarly dissatisfying alternative to a public inquiry. It is necessary for a review of police conduct to be as objective as possible. With an internal task force, an unbiased investigation cannot be guaranteed. A public inquiry would ensure at least some repercussions for misdeeds. At the very least Blair could be subject to a public shaming, which might impact his conduct in the future.The police occupy a unique and powerful role in society. It is imperative that they are subject to checks and balances, and held accountable for misuses of their powers. Public inquiries are potent tools. The Braidwood Inquiry, which investigated the death of Robert Dziekanski, illustrates that public inquiries can result in substantial reform to police procedure, and usher in greater accountability.A Day of Action in support of a public inquiry into poli[...]



I too pondered the question about protests and wha...

2010-07-02T18:22:16.631-04:00

I too pondered the question about protests and what they accomplish. After taking part in protests in the past, I was often left with the question of what was accomplished. Considering the aftermath of this protest, one now has to consider whether taking part peacefully in a protest is worth the danger of false imprisonment.

At least two important questions arise from the issue around protesting. One has to do with educating those critical of protest as to what the real issues of the G20 and G8 are. The other is how to counter some of the violent themes that arose out of the police crackdown on demonstrators.

Education is critical but the method is elusive. Mass writing campaigns and petitions have been attempted in other serious situations. Amnesty International is one group that is presently petitioning and calling for an inquiry into police actions in the violent arrests that occurred the weekend of the G20 summit. Education is and always has been an uphill battle. Yet without an attempt to involve the public and encourage people to understand the issues, we are acquiescing to the power that the G20 and G8 already have. Whenever we struggle against the larger and unified forces of these summits and their agendas, we have to understand and expect adversity in the form of insulting remarks, and some politicians denouncing us. This should not stop us.

Out of this blog, we can generate an educated and well informed response to the reactionary comments that protest often receives. We can denounce the arrests made by police of people who had nothing to do with the burning of police cars and the breaking of windows; people who were peaceful but wanted to show their outrage at the policies of the G20.

It is deplorable that innocent civilians and alternative journalists covering the G20 protests were criminalized while attempting to exercise the rights that are inherent in a free society. There have been reports of the inhumane conditions in the cells where people were kept for hours with reportedly little to eat or drink. One interview showed a gay man who was told that he and his partner should be put in separate cells because they could be in danger. This man and his partner did not feel threatened by anyone in the cells, but did feel threatened by the police. According to this interview, gay and lesbian people were segregated into even smaller cells. It seems that the police were the ones that were homophobic and not the protestors.

These are but a few of the dreadful conditions that innocent civilians and people from alternative media faced in detention by police without cause. This is what none of us should forget.

In the end, protest by those with the courage of their convictions should be applauded by those of us who attempt to understand the policies of the G20 and G8. I applaud those who took to the streets. It is time that people began to separate the few protestors who were violent from the majority who were not. We can speak out about the need for freedom to protest the inherently violent theme of the G20 and G8 without fear of having to risk arrest and detention in inhumane degrading conditions.



There are a few things that have crossed my mind w...

2010-07-02T11:01:38.661-04:00

There are a few things that have crossed my mind while the weekend came to a close.

I remember getting into a debate about what protesting actually accomplishes in today's time. An interesting debate later - I was left with a dominant perspective which was prevalent amongst most I had talked to. Had the protestors tried to write to the leaders and taken up other means (these means were never specified) to have their voices heard rather than protest (which wasn't done near the building the conference was being held in anyway), the "ordinary" public, watching television would not have agreed with Mayor David Miller when he, during an interview with CP24, called many of the protestors "criminal".

Today, protesting may get your voice heard but it falls flat on ears that are constantly bombarded with the same two or three violent images that were repeatedly broadcasted on various news stations.

According to the Charter, our fundamental freedoms include right to free speech and peaceful assembly, but these have always been up for debate - what does "free speech" really entail, etc. And that is the argument that most people had against protesting.

It's unfortunate that even before the protesting started, I saw comments like "Protestors need to get a job", etc. all over Facebook.

Protesting in 2010 has become a gamble in some sense - while you garner attention for the voice you want to carry over, it may just turn into negative publicity for the cause.

Perhaps this is the best illustration of Justice McLachlin's concern about the "chilling effect" which she talked about in R. v. Keegstra - that if you try to put a hold on free speech, it may just give the speech a platform to get noticed.

I'm just not sure if getting noticed is all it's about though. There was a message that was trying to be sent across through protesting but the message many got OF the protestors was that they had "nothing to do" and were "confrontation junkies". Protesting itself looked like it was being criminalized this whole week...

That's what protesting in 2010 looks like to me - a mechanism given to the common public to raise concerns, which the government will try to control and limit, often causing havoc and anger, leading to misunderstood and skewed images of the fundamental freedom in the common public's mind.



I'll address the last question right now as th...

2010-07-01T17:36:38.104-04:00

I'll address the last question right now as that's where my thoughts are clearest. I'll likely be back with more comments later.

I believe that an independent inquiry is absolutely necessary, even if you believe that the police action was appropriate. Following the violence and chaos of the weekend and the revelation that we were misled as to the extent of the police's powers during the summit, public confidence has been shaken. A public inquiry must be held and those responsible must be held accountable in order to restore confidence in the system. If the fails and is allowed to fail, then people will justifiably conclude that it doesn't work. And I think that we can all imagine where that leads.

Furthermore, sweeping it all under the rug or trying to forget what happened only reinforces that what happened is acceptable, and it isn't. We cannot allow such a precedent to be set. Rights must be unconditional or they are not rights at all. If our rights can be suspended because of a G20 summit, then they are only privileges to be granted or denied as the powers that be deem them necessary. If there is no resolution - no firings or sanctions for those responsible, no declaration that this was unconstitutional - then it leaves the door open for a repetition of these abuses of powers the next time there is a political event in one of our cities.